Chantelle Nicholson

img74760.jpg

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 hangover 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. Tredwells opened in 2014 and Chantelle's clean, unfussy food was an instant hit – particularly for vegetarians, vegans and those with food intolerances, which has always been a focus for the chef. ‘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.’ By 2018, Chantelle became the sole owner of Trewells, and in January 2021 the restaurant was awarded a Michelin Green star. Tredwells completed its final service in September later that year.

During the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, Chantelle – like many chefs and restaurant owners – had to think on her feet. Tredwells offered a 'Tredwells To Go' delivery and takeaway service, and All's Well (a 'pandemic pop-up') was opened by the chef in Hackney to preserve jobs. All's Well may have closed now, but the food on offer – sustainable, seasonal bites and small plates – was a precursor to Chantelle's next restaurant Apricity, due to open in spring 2022 in Mayfair. The zero-waste, hyper-seasonal, sustainable and inclusive restaurant is a culmination of everything Chantelle has become known for. 

Three things you should know

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

Chantelle is an independent board member of ReLondon, which aims to improve waste and resource management throughout the city.

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