An award winning Kiwi chef and restauranteur in London is a front runner to achieve another big accolade.
Chantelle Nicholson has been shortlisted for one of Britain's top culinary honours — voted by the crème de la crème of the hospitality industry.
Hamilton-born Nicholson is vying for Chef of the Year in the country's top awards.
"I was quite taken a back actually in a nice way because I’ve never been recognised as a chef," Nicholson told 1 NEWS.
That's because she works beyond the kitchen, with cookbooks and the operational side of her restaurants.
It was 2004 when Nicholson quit her legal career in New Zealand to pursue her passion for cooking in London at Gordon Ramsay's prestigious Savoy Grill.
The job offer came from then head chef, mentor and a familiar face, Josh Emett.
"In those London kitchens in those days that was a challenge-and-a-half, they weren’t easy places to come in from a cold start and as passionate as she was — and stick it out," Emett said, adding, "it was brutal".
But he picked up on her strong work ethic and initiative.
"She always went above and beyond and the interesting thing right from day dot — she could pick if a recipe was wrong, she would fix it herself, she would say 'I fixed the recipe here's this - job done'," Emett recalled.
Now it’s her twist on plant-based dishes that's become her recipe for success.
"For me it’s trying to take something humble but actually make it really delicious — cabbage is one of my favourite vegetables and it's probably the most talked about dish here," Nicholson said.
In the midst of the pandemic she opened a pop-up restaurant in central London where chefs, critics and restauranters voted her dishes as a cut above the rest.
The editor of Britain’s Restaurant Magazine, Stefan Chomka, said it’s an example of how restaurants being able to sustain themselves.
"Do what they do best really which is bring great hospitality and bring great food to people."