A CHEF who worked at a Michelin-starred restaurant cooking for for rock stars and royalty has taken on a new role at an award-winning retirement village.
Jo Stoddart worked alongside one of the world’s best known chefs, Michel Roux Jr, at his London restaurant, Le Gavroche – the first in the UK to gain three Michelin stars in 1982 - and is now bringing some Michelin magic to Middleton Hall Retirement Village, near Darlington, as its new catering manager.
Ms Stoddart will be updating the retirement village’s Orangery menus as well as preparing food for events and functions.
She will also be launching an advanced training scheme for her colleagues to learn new techniques and update their skills.
The mother-of-three said: “I’ve joined Middleton Hall because of the vision there is for the catering. It’s going to be really exciting to be part of it and working with the team to look at all aspects of the catering for residents.
“We’re looking to make the menus more seasonal from locally sourced ingredients. Middleton Hall is working on healthy eating so we are looking at what we cook, how we present it and how we source food.”
Mrs Stoddart was among five students plucked straight from catering college, in Liverpool, to join Le Gavroche where she was the only female out of 20 chefs.
Within three months she had been promoted to head chef of the training kitchen where she stayed for six years, before working for Mr Roux’s father, Albert.
During her four years with the celebrated chef, she catered for BAFTA guests and Hollywood actors, as well as musicians, including Oasis, Tom Jones and Prince.
She later joined a private school group as a catering manager in Kensington before working at a primary school where she won the London School Chef of the Year competition.
She moved to Wolviston village, near Billingham, in 2010 where she joined the social enterprise, Create, helping to run a training programme aimed at getting people back into work.
Jeremy Walford, managing director of Middleton Hall, said: “Attracting a chef of Jo’s calibre and experience is incredibly exciting and she’ll be playing a key part in our vision for the future.
“We want to be known as the best retirement village in the country and Jo’s food will add to our growing reputation."