L’ortolan Head Chef Nicholas Chappell is a busy man. When he’s not running the pass during service, he’s creating weekly menus, training the apprentice chefs, teaching cookery demos, and perfecting his dishes.
Nick has been running the L’ortolan kitchen since January 2012 when he took over from former Head Chef Elliott Lidstone. Nick is very familiar with L’ortolan as he has worked with Alan and in the kitchen since 2010, Nick’s former postings include almost 10 years at the award-winning Mallory Court.
We stole 10 minutes of his time last week to find out more about the Chef who keeps the well oiled Michelin starred kitchen running so smoothly.
How did you get to where you are now?
By working far too many hours and enjoying what I do. That’s kitchens; you either love them or you hate them!
If you weren’t a chef, what career would you have chosen?
I’d be an artist with a big studio. I studied fine art, sculpture, and print making for 5 years and then ended up in a kitchen somehow.
Who has been your greatest inspiration in your career?
Apart from Alan Murchison, it would be Simon Haigh from Mallory Court, he was also Al’s first boss. I spent 8 years working with him and learnt a lot about food and how it should be. He taught me the classics.
What is your favourite food or cuisine?
Yes, really Nandos or a Chinese, it’s comfort food. When you spend all week creating fine food, on a Sunday night for me it’s a Nandos or a Chinese.
Which is your favourite dish on the menu at the moment?
Salt beef salad, because it’s simple, it’s the classic New York sandwich, but we’ve made it very British and it is just a great eat.
Where do you eat on your night off?
Nandos! I also try to get around the country to visit some of the great restaurants. I was up at Sat Bains on Tuesday, and I was at Nathan Outlaw’s at the end of last year. I really like to see what’s going on in British cuisine now.
What is the toughest part of running a Michelin starred kitchen?
Looking after the chefs. They can be a nightmare, it’s like a kindergarten some days. You really have to look after them and massage their egos and get them through the day.