Will’s Kitchen, the café recently opened in Stratford-upon-Avon by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, is proving so popular with visitors that it is hoping to expand its staff, and Head Chef Mark Hands is working with Stratford-upon-Avon College to recruit a Commis Chef apprentice to join the team.

Will’s Kitchen is a destination café that prides itself on its exceptional food – classic with a very modern, creative twist. Mark is proud of the fact that it relies on fresh, seasonal, locally-sourced produce and uses livestock reared on Mary Arden’s Farm which is also run by the Trust.

Mark’s inventive menu is not the only attraction. Whilst enjoying a meal or a coffee, customers are able to admire the changing digital exhibitions on show in the café and appreciate contemporary art. He explained: “We commissioned six local artists to produce work – some of which includes photos from around Stratford – that we’re displaying on plasma screens around the café. This is an ongoing project and the art displayed will be continually updated with new commissions as time goes on.”

Head Chef at Will's Kitchen Marks Hands
Will’s Kitchen Head Chef Mark Hands

Mark’s professional background is certainly impressive. His 30-year culinary career includes training at both the Savoy and Gordon Ramsay’s Aubergine; working as Group Executive Chef for the Charles Wells Brewery and Pub Company, overseeing restaurants and hotels across the UK and France; and owning his own restaurant, The Cross at Kenilworth. But, seeking a new challenge, he was attracted to his new position by the Trust’s intention to introduce more contemporary food to their menus.

With Will’s Kitchen proving highly popular with both locals and visitors to Stratford, Mark now hopes to find an apprentice to join his friendly, enthusiastic staff of professional chefs. The lucky addition to the team would enjoy sociable working hours as the café does not open in the evenings, and have the opportunity for career progression within the Trust’s other cafés and restaurants.

For Mark, who has passed on his wealth of knowledge to many people around the world, taking on someone with experience is far less important than finding someone with the right qualities: “All I ask for is reliability and passion. We can teach you the rest.”

If you are interested in learning from Mark and starting an apprenticeship at Will’s Kitchen, you can apply via Stratford-upon-Avon College at www.stratford.ac.uk or by calling 01789 266245.