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Covent Garden People; Chantelle Nicholson

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Chantelle Nicholson, Head Chef, Tredwell's

At what age did you realise you were going to be a Chef? I was always passionate about cooking but did not take the leap to pursue it as a career until later in life, around the age of 23. There is also an element of it that has never sunk in, i.e. working in iconic restaurants & hotels!

Was there any one person who inspired you? I was very inspired by books; Marco, the Roux’s, but also NZ chefs, namely Peter Gordon.

What qualities are most important in becoming a good Chef? Organisation and time management are the most important qualities. The cooking is the easy bit, and the most enjoyable, but it is about so much more than just that to ensure the guest has the best dining experience.

What is the most inspiring thing about being a Chef? I feel very lucky that I can earn a living doing something I am so passionate about, and something that also brings happiness to others.

What is your favourite part of your job? Seeing new seasonal produce and developing dishes for the menu with it. Also working with passionate chefs who aspire to be great. 

What is the most difficult thing about your job? There are no difficult parts as such, just challenges, as there are with many jobs. Being able to switch off though is a big challenge, especially with iphones and social media being non-stop, particularly in the restaurant world.

What advice would you give to anyone else who wishes to follow in your footsteps? Work hard and don’t give up. As I said above, feel privileged that you can do something you love for a living.

Describe your typical day from waking till sleep. I try to go to the gym a few times a week but it depends on how busy either the restaurant or my particular day is. I get to the restaurant between 8.00 and 9.00am, look at the deliveries that have come in, prep the fish and work on any dish development. I also answer emails as my other hat is Group Operations Director for Marcus Wareing Restaurants, so I do spend quite a bit of time on my laptop, which I have next to me on the pass in the kitchen. Throughout the morning the team bring anything they have made to me to taste, to ensure it is the way that it should be. We then start to set up for lunch service, which begins at 12.00 and finishes between 3.00 and 4.00pm then we get ready for dinner service which, being in the West End, starts bang on 5.00pm. Dinner service finishes between 10.00 and 11.00pm, Monday to Thursday, and between 11.00pm and 12.00am Fridays and Saturdays. The team complete the count sheet to see what we have left (meat and fish mainly). We receive the booking list and complete the orders for the next day, then phone them through. I generally leave anytime between 10.00pm to 12.00am depending on how busy we are and whether my sous chef is there. Then it’s home time.

What do you love about working in Covent Garden? It is so vibrant and full of such interesting people, places, shops and places to eat. It covers all the bases on all levels and is so accessible.

What’s your favourite place or thing to do in Covent Garden? It’s is too hard to choose! There are so many great places - and more opening almost weekly - I am excited to try them all.

For contact details, please see the directory on pages 22-27. ►Map C4

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