Jacqui Challinor’s food career began as an apprentice at Sydney’s organiccafé group, About Life in 2006. She then joined the ranks at Sydney hospitality group, Merivale in 2007 and completed her apprenticeship working under Head Chef Christopher Whitehead at Mad Cow before moving onto Felix under Lauren Murdoch.
She gained her first head chef roleat Xanthi Bar & Restaurant working alongside chef, David Tsirekas. Jacqui joined Sydney restaurant, NOMAD upon opening in 2013. She was inspired by the restaurant’s ethos of Australian focused produce and hands-on processes around cheese, charcuterie and bread making, as well as working with the heart of NOMAD’s kitchen, the wood-fired oven.
Jacqui moved into the Head Chef role in 2014, and has continued to keep NOMAD as a hatted restaurant in SMH & The Age’s Good Food Guide.
Over the past eight years, Jacqui has been involved in several charities close to her heart, including OzHarvest CEO Cook Off (raising over $50,000 across multiple years) and #CookForThe Bush, a concept Jacqui and the NOMAD team brought to life to raise funds for the NSW Bush Fire crisis. Jacqui has also been involved in the annual #CookForSyria dinners which is a UK born initiative that supports children and refugees affected by the ongoing crisis in Syria.
In 2021, Jacqui took the role of Executive Chef of NOMAD Group, where she now oversees the Sydney restaurant and the upcoming opening of NOMAD Melbourne later this year.
Get to know Jacqui
Describe your cooking ethos.
"Food to me should be honest, real and full of flavour; this is what shapes the way we cook at NOMAD."
What do you love about your career?
"I love food and eating so what better career could I ask for? I love the opportunities this job has given to travel and meet new people, try new flavours and see new places."
South Australian produce is…
Favourite South Australian region to travel to?
"I'm a diver and a beach bum so I love Port Lincoln, the beaches are amazing and the great white cage diving is next level exciting!"
Give us a sneak insight into your Tasting Australia dishes.
"I'll be doing a NOMAD signature dessert."
What are you looking forward to most about Tasting Australia?
"Very much looking forward to enjoying the fun stuff again after two years of cancelled events and closed restaurants! Long overdue catch ups with industry friends and visiting all the restaurants I've only been able to drool over on Instagram."