The Innovate Academy is our recipe for future success. There are two main ingredients to it.


1. To lead the company’s food ethos – staying on the cutting edge.

2. To identify and develop rising stars under the mentorship of Innovate’s best people.


These two flavours unite in our mission.


The Innovate Academy leads Innovate’s revolution in food quality and Innovation. It identifies, nurtures and recognises talent, aligning to Innovate’s goal to remain pace-setters in education catering.

Meet our Academy Chefs

Martin Welch

Martyn started his career at an early age in a restaurant kitchen back in his hometown of Walsall. He worked his way through the ranks over the course of 4 years to reach the level of Head Chef, gaining professional qualifications along the way.


Seeking bigger and better things, with a challenge thrown in, he moved to Deppers Bridge to revive a failing pub restaurant and doubled their takings within the first month!


He has run kitchens in some of the best known pubs and restaurants in his local area, such as The Stag at Offchurch and The Bell at Ladbroke. The next challenge he undertook was within the world of contract catering, working at one of Compass Group’s flagship sites in Warwick.


Martyn is still as hungry to succeed and has the same passion he had as a youngster. He started working for Innovate in January 2014 and successfully worked his way from Assistant Manager to Manager.  He is always happy to jump in and help anyone in need.


Martyn, who lives with his fiancée and 10 year old son, has a very busy personal life which includes coaching his boy’s football team.

Zoe Rugg

Zoe has always cooked, starting at just 6 years old. She was brought up in Yorkshire by her Nan and was taught to cook on a tight budget, which was all about stretching out the meals to feed a household.


Much later on her family bought a hotel on The Lizard and at age 18 their restaurant was awarded the first AA rosette in Cornwall for her lobster thermidor (it was the 80’s!). Zoe went on to run 8 gastro pubs and also owned her own catering company working as a Personal Chef.


Zoe specialises in Spanish, Greek, Italian, French and Indian cuisine. Her daughter has type 1 juvenile diabetes which has taught her to adapt her recipes to suit her special dietary requirements, something Zoe says has been quite the learning curve.


Zoe has an amazing talent in that she has an acute sense of taste, almost like a photographic memory, and can recreate any dish she has ever had, without the help of a recipe (just don’t ask her to remember any names)


In the school holidays Zoe keeps herself busy running cookery workshops for 5 – 12 year olds.

Wendy Moore

As a teenager Wendy got her first part time job in a local café which started her love of all things food. She completed a 2 year catering course at college and went on to have numerous jobs in catering. Wendy has worked in a variety of catering roles, from a local greasy burger bar to cooking for 2500 people at the Metropole Hotel in Brighton and then all the way to Walt Disney World in Florida where she cooked for 30,000 people a day!


Wendy took a short break when she had her daughter and briefly went into retail management. But she missed the draw and excitement of catering and secured a job in school catering.


Wendy began working for Innovate in 2012 as a Chef Manager at Durrington High School.


After 2 and half years she was ready for her next challenge and joined the Operational Support Team as a Relief manager.


‘Having been out on the road for a year which I thoroughly enjoyed, I am now lucky to have had the opportunity to be offered an Area Manager role. I am also part of the Chefs Academy with Innovate so I’m looking forward to a new exciting year ahead.’ – Wendy Moore

Derek Giles

Derek has been a chef since the age of 16. He has previously worked as the Head Chef at the University of Nottingham where he ran the banqueting department as well as the Vice Chancellors private dining room. He has been with Innovate for almost 3 years working as the Chef Manager for one of our sites in Nottingham.


‘I look forward to sharing my experience of all things food with all Innovate employees I have the chance to meet’ Derek Giles


Outside of work you’ll most likely find Derek squeezed into some tight shorts peddling around the local countryside as he is a keen cyclist and has completed several 100 mile rides this past year or so.

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