“Restaurants are living, breathing things – they have a pulse and it’s our job to keep them going as best we can.”

The Staff Canteen

Apricity, which opened in 2022, was awarded its Michelin Green star in this year's Michelin Guide - not a first for chef owner, Chantelle Nicholson, who previously held one at Tredwells, but an accolade which represents not just her ethos but her team’s and the restaurant’s.

Speaking to Michelin-starred chef, Lisa Goodwin-Allen from Northcote, as part of The Staff Canteen’s Grilled podcast, she explained why she is so passionate about sustainable practises and the pair discussed ways to implement them in your own business.



In her first solo venture, Chantelle operates a five-day week policy, is passionate about using seasonal produce and is a big champion of vegetables, ‘because we all need to eat more vegetables’.

Apricity started as a white box in Mayfair, Chantelle never thought she’d have a restaurant in Mayfair and siad: “It found me, rather than me finding it!” 

And interestingly when they were doing the fit out and the build, they decided to keep certain features such as the walls underneath the plaster because, ‘they were so beautiful’.

She said: “The aim of the fit out was to repurpose as much as possible – the chairs were bought second hand and are made from recycled coke bottles – so everything has a place or a purpose for being here.” Even the drinks are part of this vision, low intervention wine and cocktails made from byproducts from the kitchen – Chantelle works hard to keep everything in a ‘closed loop’.

“Anything deemed as waste, we try to find a way to use it. It gets us thinking more and makes us more creative – its challenging because things are a lot more ‘of the moment’ but it’s interesting. We just want to cook really delicious food and hero the people who produce that food.”

What is sustainability?

“I get asked a lot, when was that lightbulb moment?”, explained Chantelle. “I think I’ve come full circle myself, growing up in New Zealand we had to eat seasonally because we didn’t import much food and if we did it was really expensive, and not great.

“We’d go to the strawberry farm to get our strawberries and look forward to the first asparagus of the season. I was surrounded by such incredible produce and I’ll probably never have that level of produce again.

“Then I came to London and I went to Marks and Spencers and realised you could get everything, whenever you wanted.

“As I said I came full circle and realised what we do and how we produce food is so important. I want to be aligned with people who are doing really great things and the more you learn about it the more you want to know.”

Chantelle realised how broken the food system is and how detrimental things can be to our health she wanted to change that by what they do in the restaurant.

She said: “We look at what pulses and beans we can use, and using whole wheat flour to get more nutrition and fibre into people’s diets.

“I’ve always adored vegetables but they’ve always had a bad rep, even in kitchens, getting on to the meat section was the pinnacle, it’s the opposite at Apricity.”

She added: “I’m an incredibly practical person and if we look at what sustainability is, a lot of it is just common sense. It’s valuing things, not wasting things – doing ingredients justice and trying to enhance their flavour, not detract from it and trying to make it taste like something else.”

Lisa said: “We’ve talked about this quite a bit and I understand everything about the vegetables because we do a lot of those practises in our cookery at Northcote, but it’s taking it that edge further – everybody in kitchens uses clingfilm, but you don’t use it do you? It’s all these little things that you would do, day to day, that you’ve got to really think about.

“You have to look at things and think ‘this isn’t sustainable but how so I get this into working practise and still get the same outcome?’.

“I think that’s the really interesting thing about it, it’s not just the product, it’s not just the ingredient, it’s the equipment which goes behind it and the philosophy of your restaurant.”

Chantelle explained that it’s about stepping back and thinking, ‘why do we do these things?’.

“It’s becoming more and more at the forefront,” said Lisa. “People are probably going to be told they have to do it. I think it’s massively important that people embrace it.”

How do you become more sustainable as a business?

Lisa feels the biggest challenge for Northcote ‘is the size and volume’ of what they do. She said: “There’s a lot of things that you naturally do but then there are other things which you underestimate, and you don’t do, which you have to do.

“We are very good in everything we do but can you say we are fully sustainable? Probably not.”

She added: “Looking at it in bigger properties, it’s kind of a minefield really and it can be quite scary. But I think it is like anything, you have to train yourself – the same as when you get out of bed on a morning, you brush your teeth!”

Chantelle completely agrees that it is a ‘behaviour change’, and admits that going in to other people’s kitchens is now quite daunting because Apricity doesn’t operate in the same way.

She said: “The biggest challenge is understanding sustainability. You have to have a holistic approach and look at it 360 – just doing one thing doesn’t cancel out the other things which are not great. It’s not mutually exclusive.

“People are also a huge part of sustainability which don’t often get talked about, so how do you regenerate and rejuvenate your team? How are you making sure mental health is at the forefront? How are you ensuring they are efficient in what they are doing?

“Restaurants are living, breathing things – they have a pulse and it’s our job to keep them going as best we can.”

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th July 2023

“Restaurants are living, breathing things – they have a pulse and it’s our job to keep them going as best we can.”