13 Jul Meet Our Chefs In 20 Questions

Natalia & Ellie have joined Chez Vous head chef, Sophie, for the summer. Here we get to know them with 20 questions!

  • Where did you train to cook?

E: We both trained at Leiths school of food and wine (@Leithscooking) class of 2015. Which means we have gained a CTH level 4 in culinary arts, WSET level 2 in wine and the ‘Leiths Diploma’.

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  •  How long have you been cooking professionally?

N: My food career started in 2012, before that I was completing a degree in Criminology and Ancient History. I’ve worked as a private chef on multiple occasions, and also in the kitchen at Nosh, a beautiful cafe/deli in New Zealand. I’ve worked front of house in cafes, bakeries and for really large scale events around London too, so I’ve pretty much seen it all! 

E: Nat and I have just ‘officially’ qualified as professional chefs at Leiths in London, however we’ve both had a love affair with food for a while. Before graduating from Leiths I worked at various events such as the Action Against Hunger kitchen and the ‘Taste’ of London Festival. I’ve also been fortunate enough to undertake internships at Michelin starred restaurants throughout my training.

  • How would you describe your style of cooking?

N: My style of cooking is quite varied as I take ideas from all over the world. I love to cook traditional Brazilian foods (I was born there) and also really classic Kiwi and British dishes that are fresh,healthy and fun to experience and enjoy. I also love Vietnamese and Spanish styles of eating. For me food and cooking is a sharing experience, you share your knowledge, culture and love of food with others and it brings everyone together. I love to see people happy and laughing when eating the food I make.

E: We are classically trained in French cuisine, however I do love Moroccan food when I’m cooking for friends & family.

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  • Do you have a “signature dish” or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?

N: I don’t have one signature dish just yet, i’ll let you know when that happens!

E: Have to say my lamb tagines are pretty good, they’re always well received! I love cooking things which are relatively simple to make but have a real depth of flavour and are just really tasty.

  • Do you have a favourite ingredient?

N: It probably sounds a bit cliche at the moment but I absolutely love Quinoa – I’m gluten intolerant, so it works really well for me as I can use it many different ways and in loads of dishes – sweet and savoury!

E: GINGER!! Oh and coconut anything! I’ve been known to be found eating coconut cream straight out the packet with just a spoon. Not ashamed! 

  • Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at?

N: My all time favourite restaurant is in New Zealand and is called The French Cafe – such beautiful food, incredible service and a wonderful atmosphere. In London I love Kopapa, The Providores, Granger & Co, Maze, North Audley Cantina and all the markets around London, which are wonderful for finding delicious traditional foods.

E:  It’s hard to name just one!  I love places that suprise me, one of my local pubs The Kings Arms in Ealing do a fantastic Thai evening, baring in mind that I’m a tough judge, I absolutely love it. Their speciality in a massaman curry which they serve in the hollowed out middle of a freshly baked white cobb. Bonus is that they offer a free drink if you manage to finish it. I came very close!

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  • What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time as a chef?

N: I have had some pretty awesome experiences as a chef. Working at the Taste of London Festival was an incredible experience, very busy but great fun!

E: I have to say working with Chez Vous here in Sotogrande over easter has to be one of my favourite experiences! I absolutely love working with Nat and Sophie we make such a good team, not too mention all the laughs we get out of it as well!

  • What would be your “last request” dish?

N: My Nana’s vegetarian pasta dish, It is just amazing,but I can’t make it the way she did.

E: Asparagus with hollandaise, just beautiful!

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  • Is there another chef that you most admire?

N: My favourite chefs right now are Peter Gordon, Theo Randall, Dan Doherty, Cyrus Todiwala, Simon Wright and pretty much everyone off the TV show Chefs Table. If you haven’t seen it, check it out, its pretty amazing and at the end they do a montage of the dishes set to classical music, which is my idea of heaven!

E: I love Tom Kerridge, he was actually kind enough to come in and demonstrate for us at school. He seems like a really genuine guy and I think I could easily eat anything from his Hand and Flowers menu! 

  • Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef? 

N: Make sure you love cooking, like really love it, are willing to learn for the rest of your life. You’ll have to get used to working long and weird hours, and learn how to make a stressful shift it fun and full of laughter.

E: GO TO LEITHS! It was my far the greatest decision of my life! No understatement. The connections you make, the like minded people you surround yourself with and of course the amazing teaching staff. But of course you cant be afraid of hard work and mucking in, the chef life is rarely glamorous. 

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Natalia and Ellie will be working in the Chez Vous Kitchen creating beautiful dishes all summer. If you’re looking for a catering company in Sotogrande, Marbella or Gibraltar then get in touch for a quote!

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