Find Chantelle Nicholson on social media
Chantelle Nicholson grew up in idyllic New Zealand, and whilst food formed a big part of her childhood, she never considered a career in the kitchen until much later in life. Instead Chantelle studied law at university, working in kitchens on the side in order to combat exorbitant student loan bills. She graduated, then qualified as a lawyer and passed her admission to the bar before entering a cooking competition on a whim. Gordon Ramsay's Chef Search was looking for chefs to submit a three course menu, with recipes; Chantelle did, and promptly found herself in the competition final where she met Josh Emett - a fellow Kiwi who was also Ramsay's head chef at The Savoy Grill. Emett offered her a job at The Savoy and the rest is history - Chantelle handed in her notice the next day and packed her bags for London.
Chantelle spent years learning the ropes at The Savoy, which was a world away from the cafes and restaurants she had worked in back home. ‘I didn’t know the grandeur of The Savoy,' she explains in our interview. 'I didn’t know what a Michelin star was. I didn’t know who half the chefs were. If I’d known all that I don’t think I would have done it.' She quickly became an invaluable, reliable part of the team, so much so that when Emett left The Savoy, Marcus Wareing stepped in to take her to Petrus. Chantelle would soon become Wareing's Head of Operations, managing the day-to-day at Petrus (and then Marcus when it changed names), as well as Wareing's cookbooks and restaurant launches; Chantelle helped to launch The Gilbert Scott and Tredwells, the latter of which she would become chef patron of in 2016.
When Tredwells closed in 2021, it signalled the start of something new for Chantelle - first, a sustainability-focused pop-up called 'All's Well', then a new site - Apricity - which opened in May 2022. Chantelle's focus now is sustainability on all levels - that means hyper-seasonal menus, reducing the amount of single-use plastics used in the kitchen, and decking the restaurant out with reclaimed furniture. Apricity also cares deeply about staff welfare, being one of the first restaurants in London to go all-inclusive on tips (meaning that, every dish on the menu is priced with service charge included).
SquareMeal has had the great pleasure of interviewing Chantelle for our Ayala SquareMeal Best Female Chefs Series where she discusses her role as a woman in the cooking industry.