Michelin Star chef Michael Wignall started his professional career in earnest at Broughton Park, under Paul Heathcote, moving with him to his eponymous restaurant in Longbridge, Preston, followed by a spell working with John Burton Race at L’Ortolan. Following this he headed up The Old Beams in Staffordshire, Waldo’s Restaurant in the Cliveden Hotel, Michael’s Nook and the Burlington Restaurant at The Devonshire Arms, earning or retaining a Michelin star at each.
In 2007 Michael began at The Latymer at Pennyhill Park and in 2009 was awarded the restaurant’s first Michelin star, with the second Michelin star being awarded in 2012, putting it firmly in the top 20 restaurants in the country. In 2016, Michael left the Laytmer for Gidleigh Park in Devon where he retained the two Michelin Stars.
In 2018, he left Gidleigh Park and with his wife Johanna took over The Angel at Hetton in North Yorkshire. In October 2019, just 12 months after taking over, Michael and his team were awarded a Michelin star in the Michelin UK & Ireland Guide 2020. The Michelin star comes hot on the heels of the AA Hospitality Awards and saw the Angel receive four coveted rosettes for Michael’s cooking. The AA awards four rosettes to restaurants that “exhibit intense ambition, a passion for excellence, superb technical skills, and remarkable consistency” – something that Michael and the team, both front and back of house, strive for every day. In January 2020, The Angel at Hetton was ranked 11th in the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs, the highest climber rising 39 places from 2019.
Michael Wignall delivers food that wows on every plate. His ever-evolving style creates unique dishes full of flavour, underpinned by a contemporary, less formal approach to fine cuisine. Describing his food as ‘modern, technical and meaningful’, each element brings flavour or texture, enticing diners to experience new combinations and ingredients.
His attention to detail is legendary, and he has a reputation of working with suppliers and producers to ensure that the finished product is perfect. Michael installed his first Evogro system while at the Latymer in 2015, and subsequently installed systems at Gidleigh Park and at The Angel at Hetton. We have been delighted to develop a great working relationship with this truly talented chef.
We recently met up with Michael and discussed his experience with the Evogro system. We started by asking how his Evogro crops compare to what he was buying before:
“There’s a massive difference. For a start they’re still growing so you can just snip them to order and then just tweezer them out so you’re not even touching them with your hands so you’ve got the optimum freshness, there’s no damage with packaging or heat.
“There’s no waste at all because we just pick what we want then put it back in the Evogro. We bring them out for specific dishes, so for us it’s a no brainer.”
On average we normally have about 8 different crops in there on a cycle system and because of the monitoring we obviously know when it’s going to be ready… we can grow it to the specific size that we want, and the flavour’s amazing. It’s not just about having a tiny little micro herb that looks pretty on a plate because I hate putting things on a plate that don’t necessarily have to be on there. The flavour packs a punch, it just compliments everything that you put on the dish.”
Although by his own admission not a keen gardener, the Evogro system has been a big hit in the kitchens that Michael has worked in:
“The workload is really minimal and you normally find the staff are queueing up to be the next gardener. It’s pretty foolproof: the app tells you everything you need to do each day, whether you want to sow more seeds, put more nutrients in the water or things like that. I know first thing in the morning what needs doing before I even go into work because it alerts me on the app. It’s really really simplistic, it’s pretty much chef proof!”
“You know that the produce in the end is absolutely amazing and you know that the flavour is absolutely impeccable, and you know that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for the most important thing on the plate and that’s taste.”