≡ Menu

Poetry in motion #worldpoetryday

It’s World Poetry Day, so here’s my attempt at a poem about Verner Wheelock:

Manufacturer, packager, restauranteur…
The food industry trainer that people prefer
Is Verner Wheelock on the Broughton Estate.
The venue is perfect; exam results: great.
Our trainers are experts; our staff are the best.
So book on our courses, and you’ll be impressed
(well we’re pretty sure you will be. We don’t get many complaints…)


Dr Verner WheelockWell it’s 17th March, which can only mean one thing – it’s St Patrick’s Day.

Did you know that our founder and chairman, Verner, is Irish? He grew up in County Wexford before coming to university in the UK. Even though he’s lived in Yorkshire for a very long time, you can still detect his Irish accent.

Verner is not alone in choosing to stay in ‘God’s Own Country’. The 2011 Census shows that there are now over 20,000 Irish natives living in Yorkshire and the Humber. They will no doubt be celebrating their national day today. But here are some facts you might not know about St Patrick:


St Patrick was never actually canonised by the church

So, strictly speaking, he was never officially made a saint. However he performed miracles and established churches in Ireland where he worked as a Christian missionary.

St Patricks daySt Patrick is Scottish, not Irish.

Shock! Horror! He was born Maewyn Succat in Kilpatrick, Scotland in AD387 and first came to Ireland as a slave to tend sheep. He was just 16 years of age. He later escaped and trained for the priesthood. On his return to Ireland he converted thousands of Irish with pagan beliefs to Christianity.


Verner Wheelock St Patricks Day

There is a good reason the shamrock is associated with St Patrick’s Day.

St Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the holy trinity. He’s also attributed to making the Celtic cross. He added a sun to the regular cross, since pagans worshipped the sun.

Why not try some of these Irish-inspired goodies today?

Yes, they do all contain booze (and plenty of calories). But loosen up and join the craic!

Guinness Chocolate Cake Recipe


Jameson Irish Whiskey Cake Recipe


Baileys Cheesecake Recipe


baileys banan colada cocktail

Bailey’s Banana Colada Cocktail


sona lá st Pádraig!





What is Kokumi? #savoury #flavour

What is Kokumi? Could it be some kind of Japanese tea; an electronic pet that you need to try to keep alive; or some elaborate type of paper-folding?

The answer is ‘none of the above’.  Kokumi is, in fact, a  potential flavour enhancer. Many of you will already be of the different types of taste: salt, sweet, sour and bitter and umami. Umami, which was discovered in 1908 by Dr Kikuna Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University, translates from the Japanese as ‘yummy deliciousness’ or ‘pleasant savoury taste.’ In around 2008 through studies on mice, scientists discovered that humans also have unique receptors on the tongue that respond to calcium – a potential sixth taste sensation – Kokumi.

The difference between umami and kokumi

Umami can be attributed to certain flavours – e.g. those that you might term ‘more-ish’ such as  parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, soy, mushrooms, cured meats, dried fish, other cheeses, slow cooked meats and vegetables, such as soups or broth. Kokumi, on the other hand, doesn’t have a specific flavour of its own. Instead it acts to increase the flavour in savoury dishes.

Dr David Baines , internationally-renowned flavourist and co-tutor of our annual ‘Creating Thermal Process Flavours’ course, says that if you include milk proteins and certain amino acids in a beef flavouring recipe the flavour can be enhanced in a similar way to monosodium glutamate (MSG). This is because the receptors in the tongue are responding to the calcium. A number of short peptides which respond to calcium can also act as a flavour enhancer. The best example of these is a reduced form of glutathione.

The dish in which umami was  first identified was a traditional Japanese fish soup containing fermented fish flakes. One of the best sources of the peptides  which give the kokumi reaction is milt – in other words fish sperm.

In this country, although we eat other parts of animals, we’re maybe not quite ready for fish sperm as an ingredient in our food. However, the good news is that we can activate the calcium receptors in our tongue and thus our enjoyment of savoury flavours with aged gouda instead of MSG in certain foods.

To find out more about our specialist course ‘Creating Thermal Process Flavours’, please click here. It runs from  23rd – 27th October 2017.


The location

No dingy and dull classrooms for Verner Wheelock delegates! Our bright, modern training facility is based in the picturesque setting of the historic Broughton Hall Estate in beautiful North Yorkshire. Parking on site is FREE and we are only a short taxi ride away from Skipton railway station.

Top class trainers

Paul Bache MBE

Trainer was fantastic. Well explained. Clear and concise. Will recommend.” TP
“I would recommend Peter and his style of training to anyone.” LM
“Excellent course! really interesting and informative.” CT
“Very well delivered. Good mix of slides, verbal information and group and individual work.” FC

Examination pass rates


We pride ourselves on the high examination pass rates achieved by our delegates. Previous delegates have won RSPH awards in Food Safety and HACCP for achieving the top grades in the country. In fact we had a 100% pass rate in the latest exam results for Level 3 HACCP – 22 passes and 11 distinctions.

The hospitality


People attending our courses often mention how friendly and helpful we are –  and they all agree that the refreshments we provide are really good. We believe that our delegates deserve better than a sad sausage roll and some crisps. Lunches are served at the award-winning Utopia eaterie on site. It’s set within a lovely walled garden, so you can enjoy both the homemade food and the view. If you’re lucky you might spot our resident peacocks.

The range of courses


VW logoEntry-level to Level 4 advanced courses in HACCP and Food Safety. Auditing Skills, Supplier Auditing, Lead Auditor and several specialist courses such as Managing Food Allergens, TACCP, VACCP, Root Cause Analysis and Creating Thermal Process Flavours – plus Refresher and Update courses and workshops throughout the year. Train here or at your own premises.


Since it includes several practical exercises, our annual ‘Creating Thermal Process Flavours’ course takes place in the Food Technology room at Ermysted’s Grammar School in Skipton, rather than at our premises on the Broughton Hall estate.

It’s an ideal facility. As well as being close to our offices, it’s also not too far from The Tempest Arms where our delegates stay for the duration. Over the past nine years, we have welcomed delegates from as far afield as India, Singapore and Brazil on to this specialist course.

show our appreciation to the school for allowing us to use their facilities during the October half-term holiday, we have presented Ermysted’s with a new set of aprons for their Food Technology classes. They are embroidered
with both the Verner Wheelock and the school logo. We think they look rather good – don’t you?

If you’re a flavourist and would like to find out more about our tenth Creating Thermal Process Flavours course, you’ll find all the information right here.


It’s probably a fair assumption to state that nobody really enjoys being audited. It’s a disruption to the working day; managers and supervisors are concerned that there might be non-conformances; and employees are nervous about being asked difficult questions.

There are 3 types of audit – internal audits, supplier audits and 3rd party audits (e.g. by customers, certification bodies such as the BRC, or Environmental Health Officers). If you’re responsible for performing an audit, whether it’s of your own company or an external company, the way you conduct yourself can have a huge impact on the amount and quality of information you can gather.

Here are some simple pointers to help your audit run more smoothly

  1. Don’t create unnecessary barriers.

First impressions count, so don’t go in acting like a stern headmaster! You’ll find that people will respond far better if you appear relaxed and professional. Smile, shake hands if appropriate, make eye contact and be polite and confident.

  1. Accept hospitality

It’s a small point, but if you’re offered tea, coffee or biscuits by an external company on arrival or in the opening meeting, accept them. It helps to set a relaxed tone.



  1. Don’t be a space invader

Remember – auditing is a two-way process. People can become intimidated if you invade their personal space. If they are backing away or leaning away from you it’s an indication that you’re standing too close. Keep a reasonable distance. You don’t want them to clam up during open questions or you might not elicit all the information you require.

  1. Think about your body language

Body language can say a lot about you or the situation. Making eye contact with your auditee is very important, but do take care not to stare or it could make them feel self-conscious. We’ve already mentioned space invading, but at the other extreme try not to slouch or look around when the auditee is answering your questions. You need to make them feel fully engaged in what they’re telling you.



  1. And finally…

The single most important skill you have when auditing is listening and speaking. You have two ears and one mouth. Always aim to use them in that ratio.

Click here to find out about the auditing courses we offer.


Hooray! It’s Pancake Day! #pancakeday

Am I the only person who only ever thinks of making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? I’ve no idea why this is the case because every pancake day I remember how much I like them – especially with plenty of lemon juice and sugar.

What does ‘shrove’ mean?

Have you ever wondered what ‘shrove’ means? I’ve Googled it this year and apparently it’s taken from the word ‘shrive’, which meas ‘absolve’. So the whole idea is that believers should “make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God’s help in dealing with.”

Shrove Tuesday is, of course, the last day before Lent, when people traditionally give something up e.g. chocolate, alcohol, cakes – or beer, fags and rollerblading to quote a Father Ted episode. In other countries it’s called Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and is traditionally a way of eating up all the

Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), of course signals the last day before Lent. It was traditionally a day of gorging on fatty food before the fasting period of Lent begins – hence the pancakes.

Below are a couple of simple pancake recipes for you to try – but remember, food safety first – if you toss them onto the floor or they stick on the ceiling, throw them in the bin (if the dog doesn’t get to them first…).

Easy pancake recipe


100g flour

2 large eggs

300ml milk

Oil for frying (sunflower or olive oil)

Pinch of salt

Obviously, wash your hands, put on an apron and tie any long hair back before you start. Then:

Whisk flour eggs and milk together and add a pinch of salt.

Take a non-stick skillet and add a few drops of oil.

Heat the pan until it is so hot the oil is smoking.

Then take a cupful of mixture and and pour it into the pan. Tilt the pan until the whole surface is covered with the mixture.

Leave it on the heat for a minute or so. Lift the pancake using a palette knife to see if it is cooked underneath.

When cooked on one side, make sure it is not sticking to the pan and then TOSS THE PANCAKE IN THE AIR and catch it in the pan, ready to cook the other side.

Ta –dah! Tip onto a plate and add whatever topping you choose.

Easy Gin and Tonic pancake recipe






100g flour

2 large eggs

300ml milk

Oil for frying (sunflower or olive oil)

Pinch of salt

120g chocolate

Pour a large glass of gin and tonic. Drink it.

Pour another. Drink it.

Forget about pancake mixture.

Watch box set. Eat chocolate.

Happy pancake day, everyone!




What’s in a name? #liveattheritz #iceland

These ‘who owns which name’ battles are, quite frankly, getting rather ridiculous. I mean, who in their right mind is going to confuse Iceland the country with Iceland the frozen food chain?

Prime example: if I leave the house with just my purse and a couple of empty carrier bags and shout “I’m just popping to Iceland – see you later.” Nobody would think “Oh, she must be boarding a plane to Rekjavic.”

Similarly, if somebody bought a ticket to Iceland, they wouldn’t think they would fetch up in a budget frozen food store surrounded by prawn party rings and fish fingers.

Closer to home, a music venue in the West Yorkshire town of Brighouse has felt the pressure from the big boys and is now changing the name it has been trading under for 80 years – The Ritz.

You would have to have taken a serious detour on the way to London or Paris to end up in a Brighouse club. And it’s hardly as if the company in question is passing themselves off as the exclusive hotel…

Similarly, a multi-million dollar US company came down like a ton of bricks on a sole trader in Bolton who made 50-70 cheesecakes a week for local businesses. All because the owner had named her company The Little Cheesecake Factory. The US company name – The Cheesecake Factory. She has now changed her company name.

I know big companies are very protective of their brands and I could understand it if someone was using the same logo – but doesn’t it all seem a bit much?


All I can say is that it’s a jolly good job that animals can’t sue companies otherwise Lion bars, Jaguar cars, Black Horse, Giraffe, Puma etc. would be in seriously hot water!


Scarcely a week goes by without some type of food scare or product recall, so it’s heartening to know that there are hundreds of companies who take the business of food safety seriously. Several of those undertake training in food safety, HACCP and auditing skills with leading training provider, Verner Wheelock, based on the Broughton Hall Business Park in Skipton.

Last year the company introduced its first ever Verner Wheelock Excellence Awards to coincide with 25 years in business. They proved so popular that they have become an annual event.

Winner of Verner Wheelock Auditing Award

Kathryn Broadburn of F Smales and Sons receives her award from Rachel Coote

The Awards recognise the achievement of students who have undertaken courses with the company in the previous year. There are five awards in total: HACCP Student of the Year, Food Safety Student of the Year, Auditing Student of the Year, Individual Excellence Award and Company of the Year.

This year’s winners were from a variety of different companies. The Auditing Student of the Year was won by Kathryn Broadburn, a Technical Manager at Grimsby-based fish merchants, F Smales & Sons. Verner Wheelock MD, Alison Wheelock, said, “Auditing is an essential element of the food manufacturing process, especially for completion of a successful BRC audit, and in light of the emphasis on combatting food fraud throughout the supply chain. Kathryn was an exceptional student on our FDQ Lead Auditor Certificate course and achieved the highest marks of the year in her examination.”

Winner of the Food Safety Student of the Year was Chris Shields from the Consett site of Symingtons which produces the ‘Look what we found’ and ilumi brands, amongst other products. “Symingtons were winners of the Verner Wheelock Company Excellence Award last year,” said Alison, “and we’re delighted to present Chris with the award for Food Safety Excellence this year. There was fierce competition for this award, so he has done particularly well.”

Tina Sayers with her HACCP Award

Tina Sayers of PAS Grantham with her HACCP Student of the Year Award


The HACCP Student of the Year award went to Tina Sayers, Technical Account Manager, of PAS Grantham Ltd, which is a subsidiary of frozen potato company McCain (GB) Limited. “Tina achieved a distinction in her RSPH Level 4 Award in HACCP for Food Manufacturing examination and showed a real aptitude for her subject.” Said Alison.

The winner of the Individual Excellence Award came from one of Verner Wheelock’s specialist courses, ‘Training the Trainer’. Successful completion of the course and examination enables delegates to provide training up to a stated level within their own companies, or to become a freelance trainer. The accolade this time went to Sharron Jacques, a Senior Catering Officer, at Harper Green Junior School in Bolton, Lancashire. She was nominated by course tutor, Judith Sunderland, who said: “Sharron’s enthusiasm was excellent and she gave the funniest micro-teach of the food handler from hell that I have seen.”

Anna Skirkowska and Chris Pinder of pladis Group accept their Company Excellence Award from Alison Wheelock

Last, but by no means least, is the winner of the Company Excellence Award. This was presented to Strategic Functional Development & Training Director, Anna Skirkowska, based at the Halifax site of the pladis Group (formerly United Biscuits). There are seven pladis sites in the UK, producing sweet and savoury biscuits and cakes, including McVities, Carr’s and Jacobs brands.

Anna said “We are thrilled to receive this award. We have been using Verner Wheelock to provide food industry training for our staff for nearly 20 years and the feedback we receive has always been very positive.”

Alison Wheelock added “We decided to present the award to pladis Group because we believe their commitment to food safety, and to training, is second to none. We’ve delivered several courses across the full spectrum of food safety, HACCP, auditing and specialist courses such as Root Cause Analysis, VACCP and TACCP and Managing Food Allergens, both here at our training centre in Skipton and across Pladis’ various sites. The delegates have all been enthusiastic and achieved good examination results.”


We are pleased to announce the winners of the Verner Wheelock Excellence Awards 2016. The Awards, launched in 2015 to coincide with our 25th Anniversary, recognise the achievements of delegates who have attended Verner Wheelock courses, either at our premises in Skipton, or in-house at their own premises.

There are five different Excellence Awards – for HACCP, Auditing, Food Safety, Individual Excellence and Company Excellence. The recipients of awards in HACCP, Food Safety and Auditing were nominated by Verner Wheelock course tutors as having been enthusiastic, highly competent and had understood the subject well. All had scored highly in advanced Level 4 examinations.

The winner of the Individual Excellence Award took our specialist ‘Training the Trainer’ course. She showed great creativity and had really brought the subject to life. The course tutor said of her final presentation: “Her enthusiasm was excellent and she gave the funniest microteach of the food handler from hell that I have seen.

The final decision for the winner of the Company Excellence Award was difficult, but in the end we awarded it to a company that has trained with us for several years and whose delegates all achieved excellent results this year.

The results are:

HACCP Student of the Year: 

Tina Sayers, PAS Grantham

Auditing Student of the Year:

Kathryn Broadburn, F Smales & Sons

Food Safety Student of the Year:

Chris Shields, Symingtons

Individual Excellence Award:

Sharon Jacques, Harper Green School

Company Excellence Award:

Pladis Group (United Biscuits)

In addition to receiving an award and certificate, the winners also receive a voucher towards their next Verner Wheelock training course.

Alison Wheelock, our Managing Director said “Once again, it’s great to be able to reward the achievements of our delegates. All awards are thoroughly well-deserved. It’s also a testament to the hard work and dedication of our trainers that it’s such a difficult task to select the winners from a huge pool of talent.

Watch this space for pictures and comments from our award winners!