We are long time fans of Natalie Chassay, a london hospitality specialist and home chef, most well known for her virtual cook-alongs over the past year. Natalie has risen to fame via helping people to excel in their homecooking with easy to cook, flavour bursting recipes and does it all with inspiring style!
We got to dive a little deeper into how she turned her passion to a business, and how she keeps things healthy at the same time. We are also hosting a free live cook-along on Instagram on Tuesday 6th April at 7:30pm so don't miss out on that! (More details at the bottom of this page).
Have you always known that you wanted to get into the food industry?
I have been into food since I can remember. In fact, I remember as a kid lying in bed sometimes thinking about diving from a diving board into a sea of chicken schnitzel and just munching my way around. Lol. A very random memory but it’s very much there.
But for real, my family, mother, grandmothers, have always been amazing in the kitchen so its definitely something I grew up with.
How has 2020 developed your career?
To be honest, 2020 MADE my career. I feel so lucky to say that because I know it has been an incredibly challenging time for so many people but for me, it completely brought me to my most authentic self and career path. Pre-pandemic, I had gone from role to role (all in hospitality related stuff) but never found anything that, A: I was passionate about, and B: Actually made me any money.
The work I had done in the past sometimes felt like a bit of a struggle and I was never really sure that I truly excelled at one specific thing. However I had always been passionate about cooking and that was something I always was very good at but never thought I’d make a career out of it because I didn't want to be a chef per se.
So many of my friends, from a young age had said to me “Nat, you need to have your own cooking show one day. It’s your calling.” I always laughed and shrugged it off, never took the comments seriously. And I laugh sometimes because only now at age 34 am I pretty much doing exactly that. Well, somewhat of a cooking show.
How did you go from sharing recipes on Instagram to making it a real business, and what advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
It happened so organically. And to be honest, if my past self saw my future self say those words I’d probably roll my eyes. But in all truth and sincerity, it really did happen organically and the fact that I was doing something that I LOVE has, in so many ways, just continued to open doors for me because things are coming from a seriously authentic and passionate place.
When we went into our first lockdown, I freaked out, as did everyone else. I had no furlough options since I’ve always been self employed, and I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with my time. I was working as a spin instructor at Psycle London, and of course the studios had closed too and we weren’t yet online.
It felt right to start sharing recipes. I noticed that people were so scared about not finding the produce they were after and it dawned on me that if people knew how to do great and easy things to common vegetables, it’d probably alleviate a lot of fears.
'It literally all started with fennel. I saw it everywhere. It was in total abundance and no one was buying it. I started sharing heaps of fennel based recipes. Talking to the camera for the first time on my insta. And it all happened from there.'
Just from lockdown one, I must’ve shared over 40 recipes of all different things and had built my profile, started doing a few bits and bobs for brands here and there. A lot of insta lives. But I thank my past self for being consistent with sharing recipes because I didnt even know it at the time but I was laying the foundations for what has turned out to be a proper business.
After September, people started asking me to do private cook-alongs as team building events for their employees who were of course all WFH. That one cook-along in September has rolled into about 70 online cook-alongs since then. I also offer branded ingredients boxes delivered to each participant which was another thing that just happened organically for me because a supplier who I was going to outsource everything to had let me down. My husband suggested I do them myself and I literally couldn’t wrap my head around the idea. I didn’t know where to start. But I sat down, and made it happen, and now the ingredients boxes become such an amazing way for people to experience different flavours.
I was super busy over the Christmas period and I was so worried that everything would just dry up in the new year and so I decided to open the cook-alongs to the public and host 2 a week for my community and subscribers to sign up to, and it has gone so well. I’ve had over 40 people on some of them and it makes me feel so damn proud.
In terms of advice, and another one I’d probably roll my eyes at, but, seriously: find something that you love to do! I have never worked so hard in my life and with such ease because I friggin love it. I literally pinch myself because I’m like… I cannot believe this is happening and I’m making a serious living out of this passion of mine. Do that. Find it. Stick with it and don’t underestimate the power in laying foundations even if you’re not sure where it's going to lead to.
What do you do with weight watchers? And how have you maintained a fitness career together with the food career?
I am a coach for WW’s new Digital 360 membership which is a virtual, on demand platform for anyone wanting to lead a healthier, happier lifestyle. As a Coach, I support members with weekly lives on a range of topics across food, mindset, sleep and activity. It’s an incredible company to work for and they literally do change lives. I feel lucky that this opportunity also came to me on the back of lockdown and all my cooking.
Food and fitness go hand in hand in my opinion. I workout to feel good and I eat to feel good as well. I’m not one of those fitness instructors who strives for or even has visible abs. What I love about spin is the way it makes me feel above everything else. So for me there’s not much conflict. I don’t feel any pressure at all to look a certain way for that part of my life.
Everything you do is with such great style, how to maintain stylish in such a busy lifestyle and constantly in the kitchen?
Well I’m glad it looks that way, because I certainly don’t feel it ;) But, having someone help with the cleaning a few times a week to clean up after my cook-alongs (not all of them, but some of them) has been a game changer. There is no shame and getting the help you need to keep your business running and to keep yourself sane.
What has inspired your style?
I actually have no idea. I am not that structured or organised when it comes to style. I wouldn’t really say I follow too many trends but I love simple things day to day and I love to use jewellery and lipstick as a way to liven up a simple outfit. I adore the way french women dress, not that I dress like them, but if I had to be inspired, they always do it for me. Simple, effortless, timeless pieces and good jeans!
What are your 3 rules for life?
- Surround yourself with good people and don’t underestimate their value. My friendships and my family are the most important things in my life
- Laugh at yourself
- Take a moment each day to find something to be grateful for.
What are your 3 jewellery picks from By Alona and why?
I love these pieces of jewellery because they can totally transform a simple outfit into something really special. And I love that I can take them day to night with such ease!
Natalie and Alona are now inviting you to join them for a free live cook-along on Tuesday April 6th at 7:30pm hosted on their IG @byalona and @nataliechassay.
To get involved here is what we will be making and the ingredients you will need: