Five minutes with Chantelle Nicholson
In 2004, Chantelle entered the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship competition and fought her way to the final. She met one of the judges, the then head chef at The Savoy Grill Josh Emett, who was impressed by her skills in the competition. He offered her a job, which she took up without hesitation and the rest, as they say, is history.
Chantelle moved from her home city of Wellington, New Zealand, to London and made a name for herself in an industry with fierce competition. She is now the award-winning chef patron at Tredwells restaurant, in Seven Dials, as well as group operations director for Marcus Wareing Restaurants.
As one of the UK’s leading female names in the hospitality industry, Chantelle’s impressive ascent on the culinary career ladder set her apart as a remarkable talent and a source of inspiration to hospitality professionals across the UK.
We grilled Chantelle on her first memory of food, recipes she can’t live without, desert island dishes and dream dinner party guests.
1. What’s your first memory of food?
Eating sun-kissed cherries that had just been picked off the tree, by my Uncle, in Central Otago, New Zealand.
2. What’s the first recipe you learned to cook?
I remember baking from a young age but can’t recall exactly what it was. In New Zealand we have a fantastic food ‘bible’ called the Edmonds Cookbook. Throughout my youth, I probably baked most things from the baking chapter with favourite being date scones, pikelets, ginger crunch, Afghan biscuits and hokey pokey biscuits – they are all very Kiwi recipes!
3. What’s the recipe you can’t live without?
As I have got more experienced as a chef I tend to create recipes, rather than use others. And you grow a collection of must-haves that morph slightly as time moves on, and it does become about time and place.
One of my favourite recipes for the past few years has been romesco sauce; made with piquillo peppers, toasted almonds, parsley, sherry vinegar, tomato paste, smoked paprika, olive oil and a splash of sherry vinegar. It is so simple to make, yet so delicious with almost everything.
4. What’s the one ingredient you’d take on a desert island with you?
Eggs … the most versatile ingredient. I could bake, scramble, fry, make hollandaise and mayonnaise… when I’ve foraged for everything else I needed for these of course.
5. What’s the meal you’d miss the most?
Unsure if you can call bread and butter a meal but it is probably one of my favourite things, and yes, I can have it as a meal. At Tredwells, we have Ben Glazer’s spelt sourdough from Coombeshead Farm and it is just so, so delicious. My favourite butters are either Abbey Farm whey butter or Fen Farm Dairy cultured butter, all with lashings of salt.
6. You can have a one-off dinner party on your island… Who would you invite?
Barack and Michelle Obama, David Attenborough, Fat Freddy’s Drop (so they can sing, too), Jacinda Ardern, Alice Waters, MK Fisher (her spirit!), Taika Watiti & Flight of the Conchords.
7. Which cookbook would you take with you, to the desert island?
It would have to be my Edmonds Cookbook – then all the bases would be covered.