The London-based chef gives us a taste of her favourite things.

Nina Parker is a chef and food writer. Having cut her teeth in much-feted professional kitchens around the capital – think L'Anima, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester and Locanda Locatelli before a stint as head chef at Jacob Kennedy's Gelupo – she later went on to work as a private chef for the starry likes of Donatella Versace, Russell Brand and Stormzy.

In her first two cookbooks – NINA St Tropez and Capri – she evoked the unhurried Côte d'Azur and Amalfi respectively, drawing out the glamour, sunshine and sensational cuisine that characterise both coastlines. Saucy, her third tome, is a collation of the most delicious sauces from around the world, and it earned her plaudits in the The Sunday Times Style, Mail On Sunday and The Evening Standard.

She’s no stranger to the pages of glossy magazines or glamour; she’s written for Vogue and Condé Nast Traveller and is a columnist for Tatler, as well as working with hotel brands, Belmond and Mr & Mrs Smith. We predict that the column inches will only be stacking up further, thanks to the launch of her new range of ready-made sauces.

Here she tells us why, as a private chef, it’s important to trust her gut; which foods reliably transport her; and which photo always brings her happiness.

Favourite place in all the world?

The south of France is one of my favourite places, both to take time off work and to find more recipe inspiration. It’s also a time to relax with my family – I look forward to it every year in August. I love to take photos. You just cannot beat the light out there.

Dream holiday?

Probably also the south of France. But also, just anywhere I go to with friends that I don’t have to cover for work. I love photography and really get a kick from taking beautiful landscapes, but I get more pleasure when there is no pressure. It’s funny because I have built a career from my passions, so even when I take time off, I still want to cook and create things. In September, I went to the stunning Greek island of Hydra and it was the first holiday in years where I really switched off from work. I didn’t document it at all. It felt great and very restful.

Most coveted item right now?

It’s nothing fancy, but a wooden chopping board, tongs, a whisk and a spatula. I seem to lose these items every few months. I need to up my game and get some nice versions as I’m currently rocking some questionable substitutes.

Proudest professional moment to date?

Recently, I broke even with my Saucy cookbook and that felt pretty amazing. I self-published the book and it was a hard mountain to climb – the fact that it paid for itself felt like a massive achievement. It really makes you feel that when you put your mind to something, you can do anything.

Your dream future project?

I’m currently doing it. I just launched my product range in January.

Who has been your most inspiring mentor, professionally or personally?

My mum always said that I could do anything that I wanted and growing up with that must have had a big impact on me without my realising. I’ve never really had the fear of working for myself or having my own business – I think that is down to my upbringing. My sister also has her own business and has helped me loads along the way. I would say both of them have been my inspiration.

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

I’m currently living in east London near Columbia Road Flower Market and I love it. I really enjoy being around this part of town as the quality of restaurants, bakeries and cafes is fantastic. I’m always discovering new spots and it’s a hub for artisans and people who really care about food. I am living my own personal dream!

What book is on your nightstand/ kindle right now?

There are lots and I’ve only read about half of them. I am rereading Nine Perfect Strangers as I was distracted by another book and only got halfway. I am adamant to finish it before watching the TV show.

Best film you’ve seen recently?

I watched Another Round, which is a Danish film with Mads Mikkelsen. Pretty funny and totally worth seeing.

Best binge-watched TV show?

There are many goodies, but I really loved Call My Agent.

Top podcast of the moment?

This changes all the time too but at the moment I am loving Feel Better, Live More with Dr Rangan Chatterjee. He interviews some incredible people in the wellness sector and I listen to them while I cook.

Your hero?

One of my heroes is a chef called Roy Choi. His food is a wonderful mix of Korean meets Mexican. A total flavour bomb and his style is rustic, which is right up my street.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

What a question! I would be an Afghan Hound because I already look like one!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to live on a farm, be a vet and own a pet shop.

Worst job you’ve ever done?

Cooking for difficult people is one of the worst jobs. Luckily it doesn’t happen often but when it does, I always regret saying yes. I always find that I get a feeling who is going to be a nightmare and my intuition is never wrong.

Favourite dish to cook?

It’s a toss-up between making pasta and cakes. They are both comforting and take me to a different place. Very meditative.

Favourite café/ restaurant?

The Dusty Knuckle Bakery, hands down. Everything from the coffee to the morning buns to the vibes. Cinnamon is the way to my heart!

What tune always makes you want to dance?

Beam Me Up by Midnight Magic, although I have sort of killed it now.

Favourite website or app?


Most useful thing on your desk?

My notebooks. One for my life and one for my recipe notes.

Which five people, dead or alive, would you find most interesting to be stuck in a lift with?

Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, chef David Chang and my best mates.

R federer

Favourite building?

I recently revisited Barcelona and fell in love with Gaudi’s Park Guell. A total marvel and inspiration of determination and beauty. It’s always a good to have a reminder of brilliance. His work is a wonder of the world.

Favourite Instagrammer or tweeter?

I love Sophia Roe for her food and her style. She gives out great vibes and always pushes the plant-based boundaries. Ottolenghi is an old favourite and never disappoints.

Your screensaver?

My Polish grandmother Bubi and my sister’s godmother Donatella in the south of France in the 90s, drinking rosé. I always have it there as it reminds me of the amazing person Bubi was. It just gives me this happy feeling every time I look at it. Most photos from that place do.

What would your biography be called?


What would be your epitaph?

‘A joker who did it her way.’

By Nancy Alsop
February 2022

Read More
Ten Minutes with… Sophie Grigson, Cookery Writer
10 Minutes with... Skye McAlpine, Writer And Cook
Rosemary Shrager, Cook and Force of Nature

Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.