Nicola Palmer is executive chef of the Clare Valley’s Watervale Hotel and manages the venue, along with nearby Penobscot Farm. This creative licensee – also a qualified jeweller – managed the hotel’s recent re-development and led both interior and exterior design.  

The inspiration for her food is her organic, biodynamic, permaculture farm and sustainability practices. Penobscot Farm is managed to revitalise the soil that provides flavour and nutrition. The Watervale Hotel kitchen is farm-driven, Chefs managing the abundance through the seasonal menu, and preserving what cannot be presented fresh on the plate. She sees the Chef’s role at the Watervale Hotel is to enhance and enrich the fresh flavours Mother Nature has gifted us.  

Nicola was Head Chef and Restaurant Manager of her parent’s Skillogalee Winery Restaurant before leaving one family business for another – doing in Watervale what she had been dreaming of for years.  

Since re-opening in September 2020, the Watervale Hotel has received amazing accolades. Rated the best Restaurant in regional SA by the Australian Hotels Association two years running, as well as the best Restaurant in a Pub or Club and the best Tourism Restaurant by the Restaurant and Catering Association. Despite this Nicola is most proud of the Watervale Hotel being recognised for demonstrating the best Environmental and Sustainability Practices in any hotel in Australia at the National AHA awards.