Nicole Vertuel – a Montville Gem

Posted by on Aug 24, 2016 in Anniversaries and Commemorations

Nicole Vertuel – our first Montville Gem! A French Flair for Success

Montville Gems is a new Montville History Group (MHG) collection of stories about Montvillians who have helped make living in Montville such a pleasure.

We recently interviewed Nicole Vertuel about the two and a half years she spent as restaurant manager and chef at Mistys. In doing so, we realised that Nicole’s story highlights the magic of Montville and the people who choose it for their home.

Nicole was born in Paris in 1942. When she was five years old, the family moved to Belgium where schoolyard interactions soon encouraged her to lose her Parisian accent.

At 14, Nicole finished school and landed her first job in a large, upmarket Italian Deli as a ‘walk-in’. It was here that she began her culinary journey.

However, the Italian Deli had one drawback, a ‘hands-on’ Italian owner. Nicole quickly moved on to join an exclusive catering company, Maison Bouvoult, the best French traiteur (caterer) in Liege, Belgium, where she entered a 7-year apprenticeship. Here, she developed the restaurant management skills and the range of associated skills to qualify as a chef.

She married Kaz Depczynski, a wine negociant (merchant) in 1963 and they migrated to Adelaide in 1970 with two son and made one for Australia in 1972. When one of Kaz’s contacts needed help in a restaurant, La Terrace, Nicole jumped at the chance to re-enter the work force. She began as Maitre d’Hotel, involved in the restaurant’s management, and later she became a chef. Nicole and Kaz bought La Terrace in 1977 and sold it in 1980 after winning an industry award.

Nicole then purchased the Copper Pot Pate, selling it in 1982 when the family moved to Maroochydore. In 1985, Nicole became a lecturer at the Nambour Technical and Further Education (TAFE) College. While in this position, she was approached in 1987 to help resuscitate Mistys, a struggling restaurant in the now iconic, three-tiered ‘Wedding Cake Shop’ at Montville. The restaurant had just been purchased by Stephanie Mullens and Delle Daniels who realised they would need professional help to rebuild it. After only two years at the helm, Nicole had Mistys winning the prestigious People’s Award in the Restaurant and Catering Association, Queensland Awards in 1988.

By 1991, Nicole had rejoined TAFE as a casual lecturer while working to improve the weekend service of Clio’s Restaurant in Palmwoods. Then, in 1998, Nicole was once again asked to help revive a failing Range restaurant, the Flaxton Inn. With only months for Nicole to revamp the kitchen, create a new menu, train staff and introduce improved management practices, new owners, John and Glenda Lanham decided to enter the Restaurant and Catering Association, Queensland Awards.

Incredibly, Flaxton Inn won two awards, The People’s Choice Award and a Highly Commended Award. In a 2000 reference John Lanham wrote for Nicole, he acknowledged her role in winning these awards, something he failed to do in the publicity immediately after the awards. That was a bitter pill for Nicole to swallow, and when she learnt she would be earning twice as much as a lecturer than she earned as a chef, she decided to return to TAFE.

In 2003, Nicole was a foundation member of a self-help art group called the Blackall Range Art Group (BRAG), later re-named the Blackall Range Visual Artists (BRAVA). Her flair for the artistic presentation of food quickly transferred to painting. Now, Nicole’s detailed paintings of French provincial village buildings are attracting much interest.

Nicole and Kaz moved up to Akala Street, Flaxton in 1987. Their block sloped down to a dam so they had plenty of water to create an expansive garden. Eventually, however, the block became too much for them and they relocated to the Rangers at Montville, in 2017 to a much smaller landscaped block. Now they have the time to enjoy their art; painting for Nicole and wood carving for Kaz.

Nicole’s inspirational work in rescuing three struggling businesses and turning them into thriving, award winning restaurants that have survived the passage of time; as well as her artistic success through BRAVA, ensure she will be remembered and respected as a Montville Gem.

Doug and Cate Patterson (December 2023)

French Provincial Buildings –  Art by Nicole Vertuel.