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The Waitrose cookery school team

Waitrose Cookery School team

We’ve put together a melting pot of culinary talent, each bringing their own ideas, tastes and expertise to the table. They’ve worked as TV chefs, written countless cookbooks and even served breakfast to the Queen.

Too many cooks? You obviously haven’t tried our broth

Meet the chefs at Finchley Road and Salisbury

Gordon McDermott, Executive Chef


Gordon McDermott, Executive Chef

Gordon has worked in the food industry for 25 years. Coming from a foodie family that grew herbs for restaurants in Northern Ireland, he has had a love of baking since he was a very young boy.

Moving to London, Gordon worked in top restaurants such as Simpsons On The Strand, Bank and Zander, Quaglino's and The People's Palace. He then turned his culinary talents to teaching, swapping city for seaside with a long stint at Rick Stein's Padstow Seafood School in Cornwall.

Gordon has appeared on numerous TV cookery shows and has cooked for famous guests such as Tom Hanks and even had the honour of cooking for Her Majesty The Queen on her birthday.

Gordon helped open the Waitrose Cookery three and a half years ago. He has a real passion for teaching and sharing his love of food.

Eleni Tzirki, Pastry Sous Chef,  Finchley Road

Eleni is a chef at the Waitrose Cookery School playing a key role there since its opening three and a half years ago.  

A trained patisserie chef, her love for pastry began at home, sparked from her mother's passion for cookery. During her career she has worked at the Ritz Hotel, Pierre Koffmann's Restaurant on the Roof at Selfridges and Bistro Bruno Loubet.

Eleni is famous at the Waitrose Cookery School for her delicious macaroons and creative flavours. With her relaxed teaching style, she has taught hundreds of nervous bakers how to create their own masterpieces at home.

Eleni Tzirki, Pastry Sous Chef
Martin Tyrrell, Sous Chef

Martin Tyrrell, Sous Chef, Finchley Road

Martin grew up in a small mining town in Cornwall. His first food memory was whisking Yorkshire pudding batter with his nan and from that point he knew he was destined to become a chef. 

Martin trained at Cornwall catering college before entering the world of professional kitchens at Rick Stein's famous seafood restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall. He then moved onto London and earned his stripes at some of the most highly regarded restaurants such as The Ivy and Scott's, Mayfair. Moving into more senior roles at The Swag and head chef at The Fellow in King's Cross, he is as a well respected Chef in London.

Leyli Homayoonfar, Sous Chef, Finchley Road

Leyli's love and passion for cooking stems from a childhood where food was central to family life; her Persian father and Welsh mother encouraged their children to try new and exotic dishes.

Leyli’s first job was at a small, family run Italian restaurant where she naturally drifted into the kitchen learning the secrets of pasta making… Moving around restaurants in south Wales, she built up her repertoire with French and Spanish cuisine and eventually became Senior Sous Chef in some of Wales award-winning restaurants. Before joining Waitrose, Leyli worked as head chef at Jamie Oliver’s cookery school.

Russell Goad, Chef Trainer

Russell Goad, Chef Trainer, Finchley Road

Russell was born in 1993 in Pembury Kent to a food loving family who cooked everyday with fresh ingredients and loved family days spent in the kitchen. From a young age Russell spent his weekends with his uncle learning all about game cookery and the delights of foraging.

He then joined Waitrose and worked for a number of years strengthening his skills on the Cheese, Fish and Meat counters. This extensive training at Waitrose enhanced Russell's passion for food and was fundamental in providing him with a profound depth of knowledge to pass onto others.

Russell has a great individual cooking style that’s loved by all the customers on our courses.

Jack Homer, Sous Chef, Finchley Road

Jack joins us from Jamie Oliver's 'Recipease' where he was a Food Champion Chef for two years.

He started his career with Wagamama, moving on to Alan Peru's restaurant, serving fusion food to apres-skiers in Chamonix. Swapping snow for surf, he worked at the North Bondi Italian, Sydney (sister restaurant to the famous Icebergs, off Bondi Beach) before settling in London.

His food loves are spices, especially Middle Eastern style dishes and bread making. But his real passion is teaching and Jack has already received great feedback from customers on his very first course taught at the Waitrose Cookery School.

Jack Homer, Sous Chef
Claire Lanza, Head Chef Manager

Claire Lanza, Head Chef Manager, Salisbury

Claire was brought up in the UK but her Italian father has instilled in her a love of good food. As a child, Claire spent every summer at her family home in Lombardy where she got a taste for Italian food. She studied Modern Languages at Bristol and spent a year based in Italy’s gastronomic heart Modena.

In 2010, Claire travelled around Italy working as Gary Rhodes personal Sous Chef for his Good Food Channel television series ‘Rhodes Across Italy’. Claire worked in the wine trade before committing to a career in catering. Since it is one of the best places to train, Claire then signed up to gain the Leiths' Diploma in Food and Wine.

After Leiths, Claire joined the John Lewis Partnership where she lead a team of chefs to debut the John Lewis Food Hall format. She then moved to become Jamie Oliver's head chef at his cookery school Recipease. Skiing is Claire’s other passion and she has also been a Chalet Manager, which involved training Chalet Girls to deliver menus for guests.

Sarah Buck, Sous Chef, Salisbury

Sarah is local to Salisbury and has experience from working in the Demonstration Studio where she focused on teaching children and school groups how to cook.

Sarah's begun her food career as a personal chef to 3 different families. She then changed direction to work at a local tea room in Romsey and also then became the catering manager for a local primary school in Alderbury.

Sarah Buck
Gerard Malloy, Sous Chef

Gerard Malloy, Sous Chef, Salisbury

Before joining the Salisbury cookery school, Gerard worked at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons and prior to that at the Castle Leslie Estate in Co. Monaghan.

Previous positions have included Chef de Partie in L'Ecrivain Restaurant in Dublin, The Looking Glass Restaurant at Kee's Hotel in Stranolar  Co Donegal, Restaurant De Librije, Zwolle, Netherlands, Johri's Talvo in Switzerland. He has also spent some time at Chewton Glen in Hampshire and Gidleigh Park in Devon.

Jessica Wooldridge, Sous Chef, Salisbury

Jessica has held a wide variety of catering roles now spanning 16 years. Most recently as Head Chef  in the Northey Arms in Wiltshire and prior to that as a sous chef in The Three Crowns, Brinkworth. Other experience includes being a private chef running a ski chalet in The Alps and two seasons at the Georgian House Hotel in Alderney.

She has worked as a sous chef in Rhubarb Food and Design and also at Tate Modern

Jessica has spent some time travelling around Australia stayed for some time in Sydney where she worked in The Boat House and The Royal Opera House restaurants as Chef de partie.

Jessica Wooldridge