Meet our Team

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The Panek Family have been resident in the West Wight for nearly two decades. Ed, Melanie, Edward and Sarah Panek are delighted to be working with a great West Wight team to deliver amazing food from our own Food Lovers Market garden and other local IOW fresh produce suppliers. 

Ed and Melanie devote most of their time to philanthropy and supporting various not-for-profit ventures. Ed Panek recently retired from his successful financial services career in London. Melanie Panek works on a two Boards, including as Chair of the United Way UK, the UK chapter of the largest privately funded charity in the world.

We love Yarmouth. It is a delightful historic, seaside town, with a charming village atmosphere and warm community spirit, free from ‘chain’ stores/restaurants.

We are committed to investing to keep the Yarmouth ‘high street’ alive, which shall in turn benefit local people, helping them to thrive. As we grow our business, we want Yarmouth, the West Wight, and the Isle of Wight as a whole, to benefit as well.

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Sean Connolly

Head Chef

Sean has been living and working in Yarmouth for the past 4 years and has made the West Wight his home. 

A native of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, he trained under the prolific German chef, Ralph Gottschalk, of the South African Academy of Culinary Arts & Pastryworks. After Sean completed his City & Guild qualifications, he worked as a commis chef for 5 years in a 5-star hotel in Port Elizabeth.  There, Sean worked as a Sous Chef with Paul Bain. Paul ultimately moved to join The George Hotel in Yarmouth, as the Head Chef, and he recruited Sean to join him there.

Once in Yarmouth, Sean has made his own name. He worked for The George for two years, followed by The Hut, Colwell Bay for two seasons.  Most recently, Sean was made Head Chef at Salty’s in Yarmouth, and has worked there for two seasons.

"Fish is my forte!...I love using locally-sourced ingredients to achieve a clean and single feel in cooking."

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Piotr Cyrbes

Second Chef

Piotr started work in Yarmouth 10 years ago. He remembers starting on the Queen’s Birthday – a very busy weekend! He has been cooking seafood, meat, vegetarian and vegan dishes and puddings and starters…and the list never ends!!

At the age of 26 he came to England from Poland, having completed his university degree after studying law for 4 years.  He was also a car salesman – quite a good one too – but he always wanted to travel, so he saved up and came to England.

His first KP job was with Tony at Smollensky’s Grill (pictured above). Smollensky’s was a shock to the system!  From working behind a desk to a hot kitchen and a massive sink – a great way to learn how to work under pressure! Tony became his true friend and mentor.

Tony brought Piotr with him to the Isle of Wight to cook.  They cooked together for 4 years at Salty’s. The West Wight is now Piotr's home, where he lives with his wonderful West Wight partner and children.

He have worked in gourmet restaurants, such as Loch Fyne, where he got my first seafood experience. 

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Jay Smith-Dowse

Marketing

Jay has been living on the island for more than 17 years and lives, works and sails out of Yarmouth. Jay has always had his fingers in many pies, a multitasker extraordinaire, from the successful marketing of various businesses around the island, to racing competitively in Cowes Week and winning trophies. 

Helping to organise a large charity event locally, and raising over £15,000 annually, Jay is also very interested in helping good causes where possible. He was drawn to the ethos of Yarmouth Food Lovers Market, because he and the YFLM business and the Panek family are like-minded about is giving to and supporting Yarmouth, the local community, local businesses, and charities. 

Originally, from the mainland, Jay’s family is now based in East Cowes.   Jay came to know the Panek Family after becoming good friends with Edward.

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Carla Norris

Market Garden Manager

Carla has worked with the Panek family for 15 years, tirelessly looking after their garden and livestock with tremendous care and attention. Carla is committed to making sure that all animals are healthy and eating the right foods.  Carla is particularly interested in gourmet fresh food and produce, particularly that which is sourced locally.  She has dedicated her life’s work to producing the highest quality, healthy vegetables and food stuffs.