WINCHESTER – There’s a new executive chef at The Winchelsea, and she’s a face no doubt familiar to those in the area.
Gina Welch has been the lead in the kitchen since May, with her a culinary career on a quick trajectory having advanced to such a senior position shortly after her schooling.
“I love what I do… The freedom and innovation I’m allowed here, all the people I get to meet, it’s great,” she said.
Welch began at the County Road 31 facility as a sous-chef while completing her schoolwork at Ottawa’s Algonquin College. In that time, she helped out during a variety of Winchelsea-hosted events and with the site’s popular Thursday take-home dinners.
“She’s doing a fantastic job, especially having been thrown into such a senior position right after graduation,” Winchelsea owner Laura Fletcher said. “But, school just affirmed what she already had for skills.”
For Welch, she admits a career in the kitchen is something she should have pursued 10 years ago. Instead, she had stops in other professions, including with the Township of North Dundas as its recreation co-ordinator, and various volunteer commitments.
“I did love my job with North Dundas, but I learned I really needed to do something I have a passion for,” she said. “Here, I’ve been given the opportunity to realize a dream… It’s important to follow your dreams because they are attainable.”
At Winchelsea, Welch oversees all aspects of the kitchen, cooking and preparing 90 per cent of the meals, making sure the food goes out hot and is of the highest quality.
“Everything is from scratch, and a lot of passion goes into it,” she said.
It has been a whirlwind since day one for Welch, whose first event at Winchelsea featured 200 guests. But, it was that chaotic environment that instilled in her the confidence needed in the kitchen and gave her belief in her abilities.
“We had confidence in Gina, and even offered her the job when we were still interviewing others,” Fletcher said. “We made an effort to make sure she was sure of the offering.”
Added Welch: “I’m glad you had the confidence in me. I can say now that, yes, I am good enough.”