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Tredwell's at Taste of London

by Felicity Spector

Felicity Spector spoke to Chantelle Nicholson about taking Tredwell's to Taste of London - a chance not just to showcase what the restaurant has to offer, but to be part of the whole Taste experience for the first time in years.

"I'm not often in chef's whites nowadays!" Chantelle Nicholson - operations director for the Marcus Wareing group of restaurants - has been working hard in the kitchen, at the helm of his latest venture, Tredwell's in Covent Garden. It's a job she's relished: a chance to create a standalone restaurant with its own personality, not part of an existing hotel.

"I first went to Taste of London when I was at the Savoy Grill, about eight years ago - it was all very different back then. Now it's a lot more together", she says - relishing the opportunity to get involved with a festival which attracts the best in the industry.

Chantelle's own background - from New Zealand lawyer to chef at some of Britain's finest restaurants - means she's got a grasp of the business side as well as the kitchen. "I always loved cooking. I used to read cookbooks all the time as a child - but going to culinary college wasn't really an option. Although I decided to study law, cooking was my absolute passion. In the end I just approached local cafes which I loved, and asked if I could work for them."

She didn't look back. She was offered a job at Wareing's Savoy Grill and eleven years later - she's a key part of the group.

And now a new challenge: taking a team of staff to Taste of London. "It'll be great for them to do something different, away from their usual jobs: we'll give everyone the chance to go to a session."

Prep work has already started: they'll be using every spare hour over the next three weeks. And Chantelle has chosen a menu carefully: working out what kind of dishes will work for the huge numbers expected at Regents Park over the festival's four and a half days.

"We're doing a chicken mousse with bacon jam, which we make in a foam gun, so it has a really smooth and aerated texture. And there'll be a harissa glazed aubergine with coconut yoghurt which is not only vegan, but one of our most popular dishes. It'll be interesting to see how that goes down at Taste. People are getting so much more aware now of what they're eating and what they're putting in their bodies. I was conscious of wanting to provide something that everyone could enjoy."

There's also the practical side of serving up hundreds of portions of food, to order, from a outdoor stand in the middle of a park. "We've done a fair amount of events. It's basically all about thinking of the worst case scenario, and making sure you'd be able to cope with that." Among the logistical challenges - judging the quantities right: "We want to have enough, so we won't run out - but not too much, so we end up wasting it."

But the Taste experience is about more than just serving up plates of food: there's the chance to interact with the public - and fellow chefs. "It's a lot of fun. Everyone's in a great mood, they're outside, there's great food - fingers crossed the weather will be good too. Everyone who's there has come because they're interested in trying things, in meeting people."

And she's hoping there will be enough time to try some of the other restaurant food on offer. "It depends how busy we are, of course, but there's usually some great banter between the places which are sharing the same section - swapping food and so on. And we've designed our offering so we can roll out a lot of dishes quickly. It'll be interesting to see which one ends up being the most popular"

Could a vegan dish turn out to be the real crowd pleaser? You'll have to visit the Tredwell's stand at Taste of London with our exclusive ticket offer to find out.

Felicity Spector has worked in national television journalism for nearly thirty years, but has now combined her day job with an increasing interest in food writing in her spare time.

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