Who We Are

Co-founders

HENRY DIMBLEBY

Co-founder and chair of Chefs in Schools. 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

Louise is the Executive Headteacher of the Leap Federation of Schools in Hackney and co-founded our charity. For Chefs in Schools, LEAP is where it all began. These three schools in Hackney were the building blocks for our work. 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: 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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

AILANA KAMELMACHER

Founder of Story PR

A former head of PR at powerhouse smoothie and drinks brand Innocent, now founder of Story PR and chair of INTUNE – a new London based CBD drinks brand, Ailana is also a passionate food lover, and champion of the work we do at Chefs in Schools.

Our Team

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

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.

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 works from home on a smallholding in Norfolk and is occasionally seen chasing escaped turkeys.

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.

Siew Yen ChonG

Head of Training: developing and delivering our training programmes so we can take our work to more schools, faster. A master in the art of dumplings, Yenny used to run dumpling classes from her flat. If we could bottle Yenny’s energy, the world would be a much better place for it.

NERISSA BUCKLEY

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, Nerissa is a force to be reckoned with, with a heart of pure gold.

OLI PAGANI

Chef Trainer: Nicole’s culinary soulmate and fellow Ottolenghi Group graduate, Oli has been involved in Chefs in Schools since before its inception, helping to create the model at Gayhurst Primary School that went on to become our blueprint.

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

Saher Shah

Research Assistant: 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

Eleanor Toms

Fundraising & Comms Assistant: Our newest recruit and already impressing the team with her enthusiasm, skill and work ethic, Eleanor has the most varied role. Interviewing a celebrity supporter one day, seeking out funders who share our values the next, charming school chefs for an insta ready photo 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 TRUSTEES

HENRY DIMBLEBY

Co-founder and chair of Chefs in Schools. Entrepreneur and cookery writer Henry Dimbleby is co-founder and chair of Chefs in Schools. Henry authored the Government commissioned National Food Strategy, which sets out wide-ranging reforms needed to improve the UK food system. Henry has played a key part in the development of Chefs in Schools over the last 3 years. He is a fierce champion and supporter of our work. Without him the charity would not exist.

LOUISE NICHOLS

Louise is the Executive Headteacher of the Leap Federation of Schools in Hackney and co-founded our charity. For Chefs in Schools, LEAP is where it all began. These three schools in Hackney were the building blocks for our work. 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

JOHN LEE

John is an expert in the care and health sector – he has been the Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Care and Executive Director at Aetna. Like us, John is passionate about ensuring children have access to great food in schools. He is very active in the charitable sector.

ANNA CAIN

Anna is the Principal and Chief Executive of The Boxing Academy in Hackney, a school offering an education pathway for students between the ages of fourteen and sixteen who need an alternative to mainstream education. All staff at the school are trained to ensure that no young person is left behind. Anna is also a trustee of the Campus Educational Trust and was an advisory board member for the Feltham Young Offenders Institution for four years.

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.

JANE AMPHLETT

Jane, a partner at London based law firm Howard Kennedy, as well as head of the Employment and Immigration team at Howard and Kennedy, is a trustee whose knowledge, experience and highly specialised expertise make her a formidable force to have working alongside us. As well as everything else on her plate, she is also a member of the Employment Lawyers’ Association Standing Committee on sexual harassment.

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 RESTAURANT PARTNERS