Jacqueline is a dynamic, enthusiastic and vibrant individual with an infectious zest for life and compassion for others. A professional chef and entrepreneur, she runs four successful businesses across the events and hospitality sector.
Always having had a passion for people, she graduated from Reading University in history, working first in journalism then in sales and marketing. Despite much financial success, she soon felt unfulfilled by an uncreative, repetitive and uninspiring work life; living in London she craved her country roots. She decided to redefine what being successful meant for her, and designed a new life for herself.
Jacqueline made a huge decision and re-trained as a chef, completing the Cordon Bleu Diploma in 2013. Jacqueline has since worked at Michelin-starred restaurants, Buckingham Palace and The Ritz London. She won the Channel 4 TV show Win It, Cook It with Simon Rimmer, worked for Channel 4 on The Taste with Nigella Lawson and has competed in Masterchef: The Professionals. She holds regular pop-up restaurants and cookery workshops, and offers private dining at home with her brand Jacqueline Wise Chefs. Jacqueline also runs Kelmsley, which caterers for a select number of weddings and larger bespoke events each year.
She is a keen sailor and surfer, which is how she met her husband Mike, who works alongside her. The couple also use Lola, their gorgeous VW Campervan as a wedding car and photobooth. They also share a passion for animals and gardening, growing vegetables and keeping chickens at their home in Sussex.
Creating a sustainable work/life balance was a challenge for Jacqueline, as she suffers with anxiety. Working full-time with her husband has presented another set of challenges. In the past, she made little provision for herself, always putting the needs of others before her own. However, through self-exploration, reflection, creative expression, therapy and the support of those around her – including her dear friend and co-founder Adam – she has found more joy. She is passionate about sharing her life experiences and helping others to fulfil their potential.
If you aren't feeling joy in your life, change something! Life is like seasons. Nothing lasts forever. My struggle with anxiety and perfectionism in the highly stressful industry of food can be a challenge, but I wouldn’t change anything I have been through. I am finding a better balance. There will always be ups and downs, because that is life. From telesales rep to a professional chef, anything is possible!
An interview with Jacqueline
How is cooking therapeutic for you?
There are two main ways cooking helps my mental health and brings me joy. Firstly, cooking something on my own, even just for myself, will distract my brain just enough to let any feelings of anxiety lesson, giving me some relief. It is almost like a form of meditation. Rhythmically chopping vegetables or stirring a risotto in a pan, has a calming effect on me. It focuses the mind outside of the self, and instead of something creative. I manage to make what could be a chore, into valuable time for myself. The promise of a good meal afterwards certainly helps, especially if it also appreciated by those you love. It is a simple way of taking care of myself mentally, but also physically when cooking something healthy and delicious. It is also something I can realistically fit into an everyday routine. Everyone has to eat after all! Even after cooking al l day for an event, I will still enjoy cooking for myself and my husband, or family and friends.
Secondly, it brings me joy to cook with and share a meal with others. It is one way to bring a group of people together, and somehow encourages a heightened level of communication, empathy, compassion and understanding. This is something I have enjoyed first hand on many occasions, from around a camp fire with friends, to cookery workshops, family dinners, parties and events. The need to connect, nurture and commune, both in crisis and joy, is something we can all relate to. The power of cooking to create a communal bond of togetherness through the ‘breaking of bread’ is recognized in cultures throughout the world and history. Sadly, this is too often overlooked in our busy modern world.
Why do you love to teach cookery?
I want to inspire you to indulge in culinary experiences to bring more joy into your own life and others, and expand your cooking repertoire. As a chef I have learnt many valuable tips and tricks along my journey, and I want to share these with you in an engaging and achievable way.
Real life, real food, real events, real recipes, real people and real joy. That is what I live for! Over the period of several years, the ideas and recipes have organically been collected and refined. I like to include ways to personalise recipes, so you can truly take ownership of them as yours. I encourage you to cherish them. A good recipe is a valuable gift that can nurture friendship, communication and be passed down through generations. I implore you to buy your own notebook, and keep a record of your own successes when it comes to making a recipe your own. Take pride in what you have created and share it.