5 minutes with… Chantelle Nicholson

Having partnered with sustainable coffee brand illycaffè, multi-award-winning chef Chantelle Nicholson tells us about creating recipes from waste coffee

Food and Drink 7 Sep 2023

5 minutes with Chantelle Nicholson

One of the leading female names in the UK hospitality industry, Chantelle Nicholson prioritises ethical sustainability in all she does. Awarded a Michelin Green Star for her Mayfair restaurant Apricity, Nicholson continues to draw attention to the importance of sustainability and veg-forward cooking.

Having recently partnered with B Corp-certified coffee brand illycaffè on a series of inventive coffee-waste-led recipes, Nicholson aims to show that making the most out of your food waste can prove both delicious and entertaining. She has created three coffee-inspired recipes: milk ice cream with spent coffee granita and blackberries; miso courgette and spiced chickpea with a coffee vinaigrette; and coffee-roasted carrots with cashew cream and coriander relish.

Brummell spoke to Nicholson about her new partnership with illycaffè.

What can people expect from your collaboration with illy, the global leader in environmentally responsible coffee?

We’ve already hit the ground running with a number of things but the partnership was kicked off by me becoming its first UK chef ambassador. This is part of illy’s global ambassador programme that allows chefs all over the world to create a bespoke coffee blend to suit their cooking. This partnership was launched with a panel discussion at Taste of London, which delved into our ongoing sustainability and gastronomical initiatives that are working towards a zero-waste future and developing into more creative projects such as a series of coffee-waste-led recipes. There is also my bespoke illy blend that is now available at Apricity.

And there’s much more to come.

How did you come up with the ideas for these coffee-led recipes?

I wanted to showcase the way that coffee and spent coffee grounds could be used at home to create delicious, simple dishes. There is always use for your coffee grounds, especially with a high-quality coffee.

Which recipe are you most proud of?

It’s very hard to choose. I love the earthiness of the coffee-roast carrots but also the deep savouriness of the coffee vinaigrette.

Coffee-roasted carrots, cashew cream and coriander relish
Coffee-roasted carrots, cashew cream and coriander relish

Your restaurant Apricity was recently awarded a Michelin Green Star for its commitment to sustainability. What do you think contributed to this success?

There are many factors that contributed to the accolade – and I view it as a 360-degree approach. We look at people, planet, purpose and profit, not just the planetary sustainability element. We’re constantly trying to improve what we do, and to increase the positive impact of running a restaurant and a business. This is why it is so important for us to work with sustainable and ethical suppliers such as illy.

What encouraged your passion for gastronomy and sustainability?

Growing up in New Zealand, eating seasonally and being surrounded by wonderful produce and landscape entrenched my passions. I really want to ensure that future generations can enjoy what I have had the privilege and opportunity to experience.

What aspect of sustainability in the food industry do you wish people knew more about? 

My wish is that people embrace the notion of the circular economy. This would result in a lot less waste, enhanced nutrition and also better-flavoured food. This means prioritising reuse and refill, and only using recycling as the last resort.

Milk ice cream, spent coffee granita and blackberries.
Milk ice cream, spent coffee granita and blackberries.

How can the average person actively bring sustainability into their kitchen on a daily basis?

By being conscious about your impact on the whole; by valuing food and respecting the huge number of hard-working people who got the food into your kitchen. And by wasting less – food, power, packaging and just “stuff” in general.

What’s the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

Trust your gut.

What’s your favourite restaurant in the world and what do you like to order? 

That’s an impossible ask. For me, food experiences are a lot about time, place and company. The best meals, for me, are generally very simple and use incredible produce. I recently had a great meal at The Sportsman in Seasalter, Whitstable, though. The produce was wonderful and it was all beautifully cooked and seasoned in a very relaxed setting.

What’s next for Chantelle Nicholson?

Now, that would be telling! There’s a lot in the pipeline, so watch this space…