Who We Are

Our co-founders

HENRY DIMBLEBY

Co-founder and Chair of Chefs in Schools. In 2014, restaurateur and campaigner Henry Dimbleby co-wrote the School Food Plan for Government, which led, among other things, to the introduction of new school food standards and Universal Infant Free School Meals. In 2021, Henry authored the Government commissioned National Food Strategy, which sets out wide-ranging reforms needed to improve the UK food system. Henry also co-founded the Sustainable Restaurant Association.


LOUISE NICHOLS

Co-founder and Patron of Chefs in Schools. As Executive Headteacher of LEAP Federation, Louise has been involved from the get-go, and her passion and enthusiasm for improving the health and nutrition of all children is a driving force behind the progress we’ve made in such a short space of time

NICOLE PISANI

Co-founder and Executive Chef of Chefs in Schools: our all-round whirlwind. Always coming up with ideas of what we can try next and (officially) terrible at saying no to everyone else’s hair-brained schemes – so the owner of the fullest diary and longest to-do list. But somehow squeezes it all in and is still always happy to take time out and cook for people.

Our Patrons

ROSIE BOYCOTT

Former London Food Chair

Rosie is a prominent journalist, having headed up The Independent and the Independent on Sunday, as well as the men’s magazine Esquire and The Daily Express. Rosie is an incredibly passionate food campaigner who in 2008 was appointed chair of ‘London Food’, which aimed to improve Londoners’ access to healthy, locally produced and affordable food.

PRUE LEITH

Founder Leiths Cookery School and former Chair of The School Food Trust.

Everyone’s favourite GBBO Judge (sorry Paul), a national treasure and a prolific and highly renowned restaurateur, chef, caterer, television presenter/broadcaster, businesswoman, journalist, cookery writer and novelist. Prue has been a champion of food education for many years

LISA MARKWELL

Food Editor of The Sunday Times and Code

Lisa, a journalist, has worked as an editor and commissioning editor for publications such as The Independent and The Independent on Sunday and Conde Nast, and is now the Food Editor of The Sunday Times, after working as an editor for restaurant platform CODE Hospitality and training as a chef at (Prue) Leiths School of Food and Wine in 2017-18.

CARMEL McCONNELL

Founder of Magic Breakfast

Founder of the amazing charity Magic Breakfast, Carmel discovered that many pupils arrive at school too hungry or malnourished to learn. Fast forward 18 years and today Magic Breakfast provides healthy breakfasts to around 167,000 children in England and Scotland during normal term time, in over 960 primary, secondary and Special Educational Needs schools, plus Pupil Referral Units.

LOUISE NICHOLS

Co-founder and Patron of Chefs in Schools. As Executive Headteacher of LEAP Federation, Louise has been involved from the get-go, and her passion and enthusiasm for improving the health and nutrition of all children is a driving force behind the progress we’ve made in such a short space of time

YOTAM OTTOLENGHI

Co-owner of Ottolenghi and Nopi, Food Writer, The Guardian

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when the world became Ottolenghi obsessed, but it’s easy to see why. The Israeli-born British chef, restaurateur, and food writer has achieved recognition for his recipes that help to create a sense of belonging, generosity and love around your own table, in your own home.

JOANNA WEINBERG

Cookery author, columnist & teacher. Launched Chefs in Schools with the founders

A cookery writer and teacher for over fifteen years, writing columns for numerous national publications including the Times, and Red magazine, Joanna is also the author of two cookbooks: ‘How to Feed Your Friends with Relish’ and ‘Cooking for Real Life’ Joanna resides in Somerset where she co-founded Kitchen Table Cookery, a cookery school focused on local, seasonal produce.

OUR TRUSTEES

Christina Adane

Christina Adane is a campaigner who started her journey at Bite Back, as co-chair of a youth-led movement fighting for a fairer food system in the UK. She started the campaign to extend free school meal provisions during lockdown which was later spearheaded by Marcus Rashford. In 2020 she was named by the BBC as one of the top 100 women of the world. In 2021, she won the Diana Legacy Award for her efforts in fighting for a fairer food system. Christina was also a finalist for the International Peace Prize in 2021 and on the list for Politico’s Power 40 in 2023.

Andre Bailey

Andre Bailey has been Principal at Nightingale Community Academy since September 2016, a school for neurodivergent boys aged between 5-19. Prior to that he was Head of School at The Bridge AP Academy, an alternative provision secondary school for up to 175 learners who face severe barriers to learning, including  SEN, emotional, social and behavioural difficulties. At Nightingale, where we met Andre, he has put good, nutritious food prepared from scratch, at the heart of the school.

 

tamsin cooper

Tamsin was the lead civil servant on the National Food Strategy, working alongside Henry. In April 2022 she was named as one of the 10 most powerful women in food, drink and grocery by The Grocer. She has held a variety of roles in government and in the charity sector. She is driven by an ambition for school food to be delicious and to have a positive impact on children’s health.

HENRY DIMBLEBY

Co-founder and Chair of Chefs in Schools. In 2014, restaurateur and campaigner Henry Dimbleby co-wrote the School Food Plan for Government, which led, among other things, to the introduction of new school food standards and Universal Infant Free School Meals. In 2021, Henry authored the Government commissioned National Food Strategy, which sets out wide-ranging reforms needed to improve the UK food system. Henry also co-founded the Sustainable Restaurant Association.


karen Martin

Karen Martin is the CEO of BBH (Bartle Bogle Hegarty), the world renowned creative agency. She studied at Trinity College Dublin before going on to earn a masters at the Dublin Institute of Technology in Marketing. Her favourite thing to cook is fish pie, which makes everyone who eats it feel loved. She loves that Chefs in Schools is all about the action!

 

THOMASINA MIERS

Co-founder of Wahaca, Masterchef winner, and food writer for The Guardian. Thomasina is an English chef, writer and television presenter. She is the co-founder of the hugely successful and popular Wahaca, and the winner of Masterchef 2005. Not only is she a world renowned chef but also a phenomenal campaigner, successfully working to raise awareness about the core issues we at Chefs in Schools are trying to tackle on a daily basis.

Melanie Jane Neill

Melanie has professional experience as a chartered accountant, helping set up the Bridge Academy in Hackney as part of her work with UBS. She sat as Chair of the Finance and General Purpose Committee, and on the Governing body of the Academy, spending 8 years as a trustee in the education sector. Melanie loves a classic Sunday roast, shared with family and friends.

JAZ NOTAY

Jaz is the treasurer at Chefs in Schools and is the co-founder and managing director of Ellora, an accountancy and business advisory practice. The name Ellora originates from India and represents honesty and integrity, two of the company’s guiding principles, and ones that closely align with the core principles that drive our work and mission

Our Team

Senior Leadership

NAOMI DUNCAN

Chief Executive: At a small, fast-growing charity that means doing everything! Advising government reviews, meeting ‘revolution ready’ Headteachers, linking up with food campaigners, developing strategies and obsessing about font usage. When she’s not doing that, she’s normally whatsapping Nicole for cooking advice and restaurant recommendations.

DANIELLE GLAVIN

Head of Communications: working on raising our profile, making sure our campaigns reach the widest audience possible and overseeing our social media feeds. Danielle recently moved up to Yorkshire and from time to time enjoys visits from the local cows who come to peek through her window whilst she’s busily working away. 

Laura Mumford

Head of TrainingLaura’s leading on taking our School Chef Educator programme nationwide to the school kitchen workforce. She’s always on the lookout for inspiring partners who share our ambitions in shaping kids’ eating habits for life and ensuring that the brilliant workforce that feed them every day have the training and support they need and deserve. 

 

SAM PHILLIPS

Operations Director (Chef’s Alliance): Sam leads the development and delivery of the Chefs Alliance, our members network supporting school chefs nationwide. Sam’s focus is to bring the Alliance to life, to inspire, connect and enable school chefs to continue delivering excellent food and food education. In his spare time you’ll find him in the kitchen exploring new recipes or on his next batch of sourdough.

NICOLE PISANI

Co-founder and Executive Chef: our all-round whirlwind. Always coming up with ideas of what we can try next and (officially) terrible at saying no to everyone else’s hair-brained schemes – so the owner of the fullest diary and longest to-do list. But somehow squeezes it all in and is still always happy to take time out and cook for people.

POLLY PRAILL

Head of Development: Polly leads our fundraising work, brings new schools on board and looks after our growing network of supporters. She ensures the charity can grow sustainably. Polly is, almost constantly, working her way through the latest Ottolenghi cookbook. The calm, cool-headed centre of Chefs in Schools operations.

the team

Anne Dal Bello

Fundraising ManagerWorking alongside Polly and across the team, Anne focuses on engaging with individual donors and other philanthropic partners to understand the impact their support is making with an eye to building our fundraising pipeline.  She is happiest when she’s cooking with friends, meeting new people, listening to great music and having a dance, preferably all at the same time.  

 

Adam Bernstein

Chef Trainer: with great skill and unbridled optimism, Adam works with Nicole to train up school kitchen teams to deliver fantastic, creative fresh food – from the perfect sandwich (an underrated art) to koji fermentation labs, Adam has got the skills and is keen to share them.

NERISSA BUCKLEY

 Senior Chef Trainer: our first chef trainer and Chefs in Schools’ very first employee. Unparalleled in her passion for making sure kids get to learn about and try great food in schools, she’s now turning her talents to schools in the Southwest. Nerissa is a force to be reckoned with, with a heart of pure gold.

CAROLINE CAREY

Senior Partnerships Manager: Working closely with Polly and Anne, Caroline focuses on growing our partnerships with Charitable Trusts, Foundations and Corporates.  With a background of raising money for the wellbeing of children (and juggling two small ones of her own) she is passionate about building a brighter future for the next generation.

Louis Davidson

 Chef Trainer: Louis started volunteering for Chefs In Schools during the pandemic in 2020, whilst studying Nutrition with the Leith’s Schools of Food and Wine. Since then he has worked in the turbulent world of local authority school catering, training chefs and improving food standards in over 40 schools. As part of our training team Louis will be facilitating our School Chef Educator Programme.

Sophie Gastman

Chef Trainer: With a background in nutrition and delivering healthy lifestyle programmes for children, Sophie’s journey to Chefs in Schools was fuelled by her frustration with the stories she heard from families about school food. As part of our training team Sophie will be facilitating our School Chef Educator Programme alongside Louis and Laura.

 

ANNA NORMAN

Finance and Office Manager: Leading our financial management, Anna enables the team to focus on developing our programmes, partnerships and campaigns for growth and maximum impact. Anna loves to travel – she’ll be venturing on her motorbike whenever she can to explore somewhere new.

 

Andy Pycroft

Chef Trainer: always ready to face a food critic, Andy faces the most honest critics of all; children. He works with school kitchen teams to learn new, creative skills so that kids enjoy healthy, flavour-filled meals, get excited about food education and become curious about what’s on their plates.

Saher Shah

Research Supervisor: Focusing on robustly evaluating the success of our programmes, Saher’s eye for detail and understanding is (thankfully) coupled with a brilliance at distilling the results into plain English for us. With a background in dietetics for kids and a side hustle in theatre, Saher is never short of interesting talking points.

Shanika De Sousa

Procurement Assistant: Working alongside Nassim, Shanika focuses on administrative support for the procurement process. Shanika worked in restaurant kitchens for several years. She wants to leverage her industry experience to identify ethical supply partners to work with the schools we support.

Nassim Tahamtani

Procurement Manager: Nassim joined Chefs in Schools in 2023, having previously worked in procurement for over 15 years Nassim will be looking to identify leading ethical supply partners to work with the schools we support.

Eleanor Toms

Communications Officer: Working alongside Head of Comms Danielle, Eleanor joined the team in 2021. With a varied and action packed role, you can find Eleanor working on a campaign one day, writing blog posts and social media copy the next, meeting partners and collaborators somewhere in between.

THOMAS WALKER

Head Chef Educator (Hackney School of Food): Thomas joined the Chefs in Schools team in September 2019, having previously worked at Jamie Oliver’s cookery school. His background is in restaurants.

Our ambassadors

emily scott

Emily is our first official South West ambassador and will be helping us to spark a love of varied diets.

Emily will be shouting about our work, helping us raise awareness, which is much needed as we’ve recently started working in the South West and are looking for more schools to collaborate with.

Chantelle nicholson

Like us, Chantelle cares about food education, seasonality and sustainability. She champions veg-forward cooking in her work at Apricity Restaurant which won a Michelin Green Star in 2023.

As one of the leading female voices in the UK’s hospitality industry, we’re excited to work with Chantelle to raise awareness of our cause.