Persistent Curiosity

A Podcast by T Shaped

#3: From Chef's Apron to Academic Research with Andrea Zick

In a world where career paths are rarely straight, each twist and turn can lead to unexpected and fulfilling destinations. 

In this episode, Andrea Zick shares her journey from working in kitchens as a chef to working towards gaining her PhD. With a wealth of experience and wisdom, Andrea shares the lessons of appreciation, the balance of success and failure in a PhD, and the importance of seizing opportunities with both hands.

As we explore Andrea's path, she emphasizes the need to value your work and ensure proper compensation. Her story is not just one of personal growth but also a guide on navigating the professional world with integrity and passion.

Listen and enjoy!


Today's Guest: Andrea Zick

Born in East Berlin, Andrea experienced deep political change early in her life; this might be where her activism was seeded. She currently supports organizations such as WRAP – Guardians of Grub Ambassador,Be Inclusive Hospitality Ambassador, Food Industry Advisor for FEAST with Us, Good Food Lewisham Steering Group member, and Thames21 River Action Lead, while pursuing her PhD at the UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training.

In her early career, she was trained as a chef in Germany and was one of two apprentices in Berlin in 2001 to be awarded the best chef exam by the IHK Berlin. She subsequently worked in commercial kitchens in Germany and the UK before completing a 1st Class BSc in Nutrition and Health at Roehampton University in 2009. During her degree, she won the Bright Ideas Entrepreneur competition for a healthy food labeling idea and co-published two articles on nutrition labeling in hospitality settings. She has also been awarded the Tetley Tea award for the best Nutrition Student of the Year upon the completion of her BSc.

After working as a freelance nutritionist and researcher for the School Food Trust and Roehampton University, she started a commercial role at Urban Retreat in Harrods and was then employed as an Assistant Spa Manager at the Chelsea Harbour Spa before helping as a Membership Sales Executive at the opening of the Bulgari Spa.

Since 2015 she has been working as the PA to the GM at the OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar, and Brasserie. In this role, representing the restaurant, she led the business to win a Green Michelin Star in 2021, the most sustainable restaurant at the National Restaurant Awards 2019, and the Food Made Good Community Champion by the Sustainable Restaurant Association in 2017.

She uses her chef’s skills annually in support of charities such as Action Against Hunger and Crisis. This led to her involvement during the COVID crisis with the Bia Project and a second project setting up the OXO Community Kitchen, for which she was awarded the Food Hero of the Year 2020 by the Caroline Walker Trust.

This engagement during her furlough period in 2020 built the foundation for a reluctant application to her PhD program, which only happened because her Roehampton research mentor Dr. Sue Reeves insisted she try to get onto the program.

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