A change of career led Nicola to train as a chef at Ballymaloe cookery school and then onto the kitchens of Quo Vadis, working with Jeremy Lee. Both proved to be hugely influential on Nicola’s style of cooking and her careful sourcing of ingredients showcasing the wonderful produce that Suffolk has to offer.
In 2017 Nicola was appointed as Head Chef at local favourite Darsham Nurseries Cafe. The restaurant enjoyed much critical success with a menu of seasonal, Mediterranean inspired vegetable focussed dishes using produce sourced from the restaurant’s potager garden and local farms. Following its closure in 2020 Nicola was asked to help a new community project in Southwold create a cafe as part of the redeveloped old cottage hospital. The Old Hospital is home to social housing, a nursery, Southwold library and The Canteen which opened in 2022. The Canteen is a wonderful example of simple food made beautifully, showcasing seasonal ingredients and working closely with local regenerative and organic producers. The Canteen aims to provide good quality, nutritious food to as wide a part of its community as possible and offers a pay-what-you-can lunch on the last Sunday of each month, which has proved to be incredibly popular. The Canteen has also received critical acclaim in the national press and its reputation continues to grow.
As well as working with The Canteen, Nicola has been fortunate enough to work with Julie Cheyney and Blake Bowden of St Jude cheese in Bungay learning the art of raw milk cheesemaking and many happy weekends have been spent creating a micro bakery with Ben McKinnon of E5 bakehouse baking bread and pastries in a wood fired oven at his organic off-grid farm, Fellows Farm, in Gosbeck.
Nicola is also part of the newly launched Norfolk and Suffolk Good Food Group which aims to celebrate and strengthen our local food systems. The group will be hosting a stand at the festival over the weekend.
We’re delighted to have Nicola deliver a live demo on Sunday on the Main Stage.
Find more out about Nicola here.