Favourite Things: Chef charts changes in her life and the city

Vicky Wainwright, chef at Marco Pierre White's restaurant at the Hilton Hotel, outside The Beer Engine, which is one of her favourite things in Sheffield. Picture: Andrew Roe
Vicky Wainwright, chef at Marco Pierre White's restaurant at the Hilton Hotel, outside The Beer Engine, which is one of her favourite things in Sheffield. Picture: Andrew Roe

A Sheffielder born and bred, Vicky Wainwright has seen the city she loves undergo many changes in her 47 years - mirroring the changes in her own life and career which have led her to where she is today – a chef at Marco Pierre White’s Sheffield restaurant, Marco’s New York Italian. From art and photography to modelling, the mum-of-two from Arbourthorne has turned her hand to many trades, before finding her calling in the food and beverage industry. She worked as a school cook for 13 years at All Saints School before getting her ‘lucky break’ at Marco’s New York Italian. And since the West Bar Green restaurant opened its doors in spring 2014, Vicky has climbed the ranks from commis chef to chef de partie, with her responsibilities including creating the restaurant’s popular afternoon teas and supporting the head chef.

Crookes

The first years of my life were spent living in Crookes, so it holds a special place in my heart. I’ve got a lot of fond childhood memories of growing up, playing with friends in the area and getting into mischief, as all children do. The memory that stands out the most is the time I decided to run away from home. I ventured off on my own little adventure and made it all the way to Weston Park before I got caught. I wasn’t in the good books that day!

Graves Park

Walking through Graves Park takes me back to my teenage years, when I was studying art at college and was a keen photographer, too. Graves Park provided me with a place to go and escape the city’s hustle and bustle and capture images for my projects. It’s still a place I like to visit today, to have a walk and clear my head every now and then.

Skate Central,

Queens Road

While I’ve not been to Skate Central as it is today, I’ve got lots of memories of the building from when it was known as ‘Silver Blades’ – an ice skating rink which closed back in 2005. Many a Saturday night was spent down at ‘the skates’ as we used to call it. My friends and I were regulars, down there every Saturday night and Wednesdays, too, when they held a disco night. It was always a good laugh. It was formerly the home of the “Silver Blades” ice rink.

Fox House pub

The Fox House pub out in the Peak District reminds me of spending afternoons and evenings with friends and family. We’ve drifted apart over the years, as many large families unfortunately do, but back when we were all together we’d often spend long, lazy days at the Fox House. We’d all drive out in a long procession of cars and the kids would be playing in the playground, while the adults would enjoy the chance to relax and have a chat over a drink or two. They were lovely days and ones I often think about.

West Bar

The West Bar Green area of Sheffield is often overlooked by people who live here in the city, but it’s close to my heart for two reasons. The first is the obvious connection with Marco’s New York Italian, where I work. The restaurant is set in the old West Bar Green police station and it’s where I got my break into the commercial restaurant industry, making the move from school cook to a chef at Sheffield’s first celebrity restaurant. Secondly, the area and its neighbouring streets around Kelham Island and up towards Shalesmoor have some really amazing street art. As an artist myself in my spare time, I’ve found street art a really fulfilling way of expressing myself over the years, when I’ve been through some difficult times. I love seeing the work of other artists in the city, looking at how they’re making their mark and often, taking on some challenging subjects through their work.

Depot Bakery

The Depot Bakery makes some fantastic pastries, cakes and breads. I love stopping off at the Steam Yard Café in town for one of their sweet treats and a cuppa, and I was excited to hear they’ve recently opened their own eatery at Kelham Island. There’s something nostalgic about baking for me. When I was growing up, my mum was always baking on Sunday afternoons – Bakewell tarts and Victoria sponges. It’s a passion I’ve got too, and an area I take responsibility for at Marco’s New York Italian.

London Road

As a true foodie, I love the mix of restaurants on London Road and the amazing smells that fill the air when you walk along it. There are so many different restaurants, cafes and takeaways, you can sample food from all over the world. I’ve got some great memories of nights out there with friends, too. A favourite haunt of ours was the infamous Palais nightclub which is a Sainsbury’s nowadays.