For Will Torrent, chocolate and all things sweet is in the blood. Growing up around baking, cooking and cake-making, as well as having a chef for a grandfather, meant it was a natural choice for him to go into the world of food and specialise in patisserie. Now, by the age of just 26, Will has already been Young Chef of the Year, represented his country, and awarded the Acorn Scholar, demonstrated his skills on television, become a patisserie consultant for Waitrose and an Ambassador for several high profile products, companies and bodies. Anyone would admit, he’s come a very long way in a very short time:
“I will always remember the smell of melted chocolate in my nan’s kitchen. She’d spend the whole day baking the perfect cake for us and I understood at a very young age the value of spending time on something you love.”
At 16 his first experience of high-class cooking was working at the world-renowned Fat Duck restaurant with Heston Blumenthal and then later, at university, working with some of England’s top chefs including Brian Turner, William Curley, and Gary Rhodes as well as Claridges, The Dorchester, The Lanesborough and The Fat Duck. From this he knew that not only did he have to work hard but also that he had to work with the best.
“Heston in particular opened my eyes up to real cooking as well as teaching me his philosophy. His passion and drive for perfection is something I aspire to.”
After graduating with a first-class degree in Culinary Arts Management from the University of West London, Will went on to compete as a specialised patissier and chocolatier at the WorldSkills competition in Japan 2007 under the guidance of Yolande Stanley MCA. He won the coveted Medallion of Excellence – a first for any British pastry chef and now works as a UK ambassador to WorldSkills.
“I was up against the best in the world, and to beat France, Germany and Switzerland (at their own game!) It gave me the drive, determination and confidence to go out and be the best.”
Will has also been the winner of the Academy of Culinary Arts Awards of Excellence, gold at Salon Culinaire, the Craft Guild of Chefs Young Chef of the Year and the Acorn Scholar, another first for a pastry chef. Michael Caines MBE presented Will with his award commenting:
“Will’s ambition and passion really stood out…he has already had a huge amount of success thanks to his determination and go-get attitude. We have no doubt that he is a worthy winner and look forward to helping him achieve great things.”
After two intense years learning his craft at Bachmanns Patisserie in Surrey, 2011 saw Will became a patisserie and pastry consultant to Waitrose. Working closely with Heston Blumenthal, Delia Smith and a very talented team of Development chefs and product developers he continues to help develop their ranges including Seriously, Heston from Waitrose, Duchy Originals and specific special occasions.
Will’s success in the world of patisserie has not gone unnoticed by the media. His charismatic personality and flair for chocolate & patisserie has led to appearances on BBC’s Sweet Baby James and Ready Steady Cook, Capital Radio and Nick Coffer’s Weekend Kitchen amongst many print articles and interviews. Will is now also currently developing his own television series and writing his first book.
A confident public speaker, Will is able to talk enthusiastically about his passion for chocolate, which is almost a mission for him to educate and inform the public about the fact that good quality chocolate is healthy, delicious and, in the right hands, can be an art form. He has spoken at the GDI Retail Summit in Zurich on behalf of Waitrose and VQ Day Launch at the House of Commons and will now host the 2012 event being held at Bafta.
Will is a member of the WorldSkills UK Alumni Advisory Board, a member of the Craft Guild of Chefs and has judged for the Academy of Culinary Arts, WorldSkills UK, FutureChef, Springboard and L’atelier des Chefs.