New Zealand-born Chantelle reveals how she went from training to be a lawyer, to an award-winning chef patron currently at the top of her game
Chantelle, 36, started her career in food when she entered the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship competition in 2004 and got through to the final. Since then she has worked in many restaurants and is now a multi award-winning chef patron at Tredwells by Marcus Wareing and group operations director for Marcus Wareing Restaurants.
You originally trained as a lawyer – what made you realise that food and cooking was your passion instead?
Cooking was something I just loved to do, and the want and need to do it became greater and greater. It came to a point where I couldn’t imagine a life as a lawyer as the creativity just didn’t compare.
Was cooking and food a big part of your life growing up in New Zealand?
I have always loved food! We generally always had a garden and grew vegetables and herbs, which we used in our meals. I used to bake a lot as a child and made my own school lunches from a very early age. My sister and I had to also do a night’s cooking each, to earn our $2 per week pocket money.
This industry has been thought of as a very competitive, male dominated one. How have things changed throughout your career?
Things have changed immensely. While still being a predominantly male industry, most of the aggression and bullying has stopped. The work life balance is also much more important now, to get the best out of both the team and their roles. I’ve never felt that being a woman was a handicap, or that I was judged for it, that’s the great thing about good chefs, we all love what we do, regardless of gender.
What electrical appliance is your most used or favourite to use?
Waterbaths have been a big part of my career in the past seven years and it’s difficult to imagine life without them. The great thing is that there are now well priced models that you can buy online at sousvidetools.com, ideal for at home too.
What does a typical day look like for you as a chef patron at Tredwells?
Typical days don’t really exist. Each day there are new challenges, new ideas, inspiration and tweaks to make. Restaurants are living, breathing entities and you need to care for them as such, constantly keeping ahead rather than allowing things to become dormant. My day is also not as typical as most as I am involved in a lot of the business side of our restaurant group as well as overall strategy and development.
What has it been like working so closely with chef Marcus Wareing?
We both have grown so much in 13 years and we have a great working relationship that only comes from time and overcoming challenges. I really value his views on all aspects of the restaurant and we are at a stage now where we can debate things back and forward, to get the best outcome. His skill set as a chef and as a business man are something that I hugely admire and respect.
What has been the highlight moment so far in your career?
Gaining two stars at, what was then, Pétrus, is one, and opening The Gilbert Scott and Tredwells are others. However, just generally inspiring our teams to push themselves and achieve as much as they can is an ongoing highlight.
What are your future goals?
They are rather intertwined and there are many, but a few are to write my own cookbook, to develop my team further and also try and attract people into the industry as it is such a rewarding path.
Article by: Lucy Macdonald