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A Worthy visit to the Food Training Services Wing

Published on: 22 July 2022

On Wednesday 20 July, Liverymen Jim Sharrock, Andrew Berisford and myself visited the Food Service Training Wing at Worthy Down (near Winchester) to connect with our affiliated Services.

The special unit is responsible for training the of chefs and cooks for all three services; Army, Navy and Air Force, now all under one roof. There is an overall Commanding Officer, currently Commander Thomas Shaves RN, with each service having their own individual commanding officer.

The WCB are affiliated to the army training unit and their Commanding Officer is Major Jared Johl. Many of you will already be aware of the role the Food Service Wing play in the production of the ‘Boar’s Head Ceremony’ each year. They prepare the actual Boar's Head that the Lord Mayor slice, after the arrival of the WCB parade from the Butchers' Hall to Mansion House. This tradition is our payment for a parcel of land adjoining the Flete (River Fleet) granted in March 1343, as then the clause stated payment would be due ‘for ever’. The Butchers Company have continued to honour it for some 700 years now, even though we no longer use the land!

The specially prepared Boar's Head

The visit consisted of a brief tour of the training rooms. Due to the current very hot weather and the added extra heat from the kitchens while cooking, the trainees had started very early that morning when it was a little cooler. Unfortunately by the time we arrived at 3pm, most activities had ceased early for the day due to the high temperatures.

During the tour we were shown the Navy’s training facilities. To get the students used to the exact space allowance available on a battleship when at sea, there are ward rooms and galleys to replicate those on a battleship or aircraft carrier,. As part of their training, students have to continue cooking in flash hoods and clothing to mirror battle conditions and learn how to cook under emergency lighting conditions, should the need arise. The Air Force unit specialises in training stewardesses and stewards who will travel on flights with dignitaries and fulfil the role of cabin crew.

Redundant outdoor cooking equipment

While touring the outdoor facilities, we were shown the Army's ‘field kitchen’ training area. This is where the students are trained to cook in the field on regulation MOD equipment or simply just anything they can salvage. There were a number of pieces of different redundant ‘cooking equipment’ outside going back over a number of decades. Jim recognised many of them and was experienced in their use during his time of service, he said "for me, it brought back many memories of Aldershot and the Military Abattoir seeing the old equipment in the Museum and explaining how it worked".

In the evening, we were special guests at a six-course Black Tie dinner ‘Dining In’ event, hosted by the Commanding Officer. The servers were stewards and stewardesses from the Air Force who had recently finished their training and would be passing out later that week. There were other personnel from the three services present who had previously passed out during the pandemic and had missed out on their event at the time.