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Chantelle Nicholson

Chantelle Nicholson

 

Chantelle spent the next twenty months at The Savoy, before Marcus Wareing asked if she’d join Pétrus, his two-starred restaurant, as a junior sous chef in 2006. ‘It was a tough kitchen, and not a very enjoyable place to work,’ she explains. ‘I think the people there were a hang over from the old days when all kitchens were run in this very male-orientated, fearful way. But because I hadn’t experienced it before I could see it with fresh eyes and knew it wasn’t for me. I talked to Marcus and he asked if I could use a computer. I explained that I’d trained as a lawyer, not a chef, and that’s when I started to help out with his cookbooks and the operational side of his restaurants.’

While Chantelle continued to help out in the kitchen, this was a pivotal moment in her career. ‘Things started to change,’ she says. ‘There was progress in the kitchen and I started to get involved in the finance and HR aspects of running the restaurant business.’ In 2010, Chantelle took her chef whites off to help run Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, before moving on to help open The Gilbert Scott in 2011. ‘I’d worked on the rebranding of Marcus’ other restaurants, but The Gilbert Scott gave me the opportunity to create something completely from scratch,’ she says. ‘There was a massive learning curve, but I was involved in every single aspect of opening the restaurant, which I loved. By the end of it, I could work in the kitchen, front of house, in the IT department or as an HR manager.’

At this point, Chantelle was general manager, but by 2013 the company was thinking about what to do next. After spotting a free site, Chantelle floated the idea of a new venue, which took all the techniques and skills of Marcus’ more intimate restaurants but would cater for a larger audience, with more choice and versatility on the menu. Tredwell’s opened in 2014 with Chantelle as group operations director of the entire range of restaurants. When the original chef moved on in May 2015, Chantelle decided to return to the kitchen and get back to working with food hands-on. However, this doesn’t mean she’s shirked her responsibilities as a manager. ‘I have my laptop on the pass during service, so I’m not like the average chef,’ she says. ‘But it’s how the business works.’

Tredwell’s was Chantelle’s idea from start to finish, and her clean, unfussy food was an instant hit. ‘You’ve got such amazing produce in the UK that you don’t have to do much to it,’ she explains. ‘I like to keep the menu changing and I’m conscious of balance; if someone wants a light lunch, a three-course dinner or a Sunday roast, you’ve got to be able to accommodate all three.’ This is why the restaurant also focuses on catering for vegetarians, vegans and those with food intolerances, while the children’s menu is celebrated for being healthy and inventive. ‘People shouldn’t feel like they need to make a fuss – we should do the hard work. There are things that are luxurious and rich on the menu, but also healthier options – it should be the diner’s choice on what to have.’

 

Three things you should know

Creativity has always been the one thing Chantelle loves about cooking, and still leafs through cookbooks whenever she gets the chance.

Chantelle spotted the site for Tredwell's by chance after a pre-opera meal at Dishoom.

Chantelle is credited as the co-author of Marcus Wareing's cookbook Nutmeg and Custard.