Andy Chestnut, Director of Wine and Spirits, and our resident Francophone, along with his wife Heather Chestnut, founded Chez Nous to share their love of French countryside living, with you, their guests.
A native Schenectadian, Andy was educated locally and in Geneva, where he learned to speak French fluently (with a Geneva accent). An alumnus of MIT (BS), Columbia (MBA), and UAlbany (MSW), he’s a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with certification in Hypnosis from the National Guild of Hypnotists, and is TIPS Certified.
Prior to Chez Nous, Andy spent twenty-five years as an international corporate executive, beginning with GE at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, and then as a member of GE’s Corporate Audit Staff, where he spent three years auditing a series of GE businesses in the United States, Venezuela, France, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan.
After the Audit Staff, Andy relocated to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and back to Schenectady as Financial Manager for GE Service Shops.
Shortly thereafter, Andy received to GE’s executive ranks, and moved to Paris as part of a GE acquisition. It was during this time that his natural Francophile emerged again, as he and his family enjoyed country life in the charming village of Crespières, situated in the Île-de-France region, a mere 30-minutes from the center of Paris.
Three and a half years later, Andy was recruited by Sanofi U.S. as their Controller, and he and his family reluctantly relocated from France to Westchester County. Soon after, Andy began an Executive MBA program at Columbia.
After Sanofi, Andy began his last corporate job-Chief Operating Officer for Baccarat, where tiring of corporate life, he decided to look in other directions. A stint volunteering at a Harlem soup kitchen was enough to help him realize that he had a vocation to help others, so he applied to Albany’s MSW program, and returned to Schenectady, to facilitate the greater good. He practiced as a licensed psychotherapist from 2006 through 2014, when he transferred his efforts to Chez Nous.
Nowadays, Andy’s financial management experience is a great asset to the day-to-day running of Chez Nous. Additionally, Andy’s restaurant duties include maintaining vendor relationships and managing the wine, beer and spirits program.
Outside of work, Andy enjoys spending time with grandsons Harold and Oscar, and catching up on historical biographies, neuroscience, and the occasional novel. As a musician, he plays guitar and especially electric bass, writes songs, and plays live with his band, The Usual Suspects. An active member of his community, Andy has served on the boards of Bethesda House, Hometown Health Foundation, First Reformed Church of Schenectady, New York State Council of Churches, and, from 2010 to 2015, the Schenectady City School District.
Heather Chestnut, Managing Director, together with her husband Andy, present Chez Nous, a combination of their passion for authentic French regional fare with the ambiance of a lovely French country-style hideaway.
Reared locally in Niskayuna and Alplaus, Heather holds a BA in Music Education from FSU, an AOS in Culinary Arts from SCCC, is an American Horticultural Society Master Gardener, an American Culinary Federation Certified Culinarian®, and a gifted actor who has appeared in over twenty-five stage shows. In her film debut, she played Bradley Cooper’s mother-in-law in 2013’s critically acclaimed picture The Place Beyond the Pines.
A well-known international epicurean and Francophile, Heather began her lifelong enjoyment of good food in her early teens, when she often cooked the weekday family dinner and assisted her mother preparing foods for larger get-togethers.
After graduating from FSU, Heather worked locally as a substitute teacher then as a teacher and artist at SUNY’s Empire State Youth Theatre Institute, before becoming a full-time stay at home mom for her daughter Christina and son Zack.
Later on, when she, Andy, and their two young children moved to France for three and a half years, she took French lessons at Alliance Française, fell in love with the local cuisine, and wholeheartedly embraced the French lifestyle of shopping for fresh ingredients daily. Soon after, she enrolled in French cooking classes, devotedly mastering its regional methods, techniques, and ingredients.
Upon their return stateside, while Christina and Zack were in school, Heather pursued a new lucrative career as a licensed real estate broker, became chairperson of her children’s school’s hospitality committee, hospitality coordinator for her church, where she also cooked annual formal dinners to raise money, and chef and kitchen manager at Bethesda House, where she prepared 100 to 150 meals per day.
Delighting in her love of cooking, Heather enthusiastically decided to continue formal culinary training at SCCC. During that time, her extracurricular activities included interning at the Kentucky Derby two-years in a row, and being an officer in the American Culinary Federation Student Chapter, where she received “Student Culinarian of the Year” award and a Bronze medal for the ACF cooking competition. After she earned her AOS in Culinary Arts, graduating with honors, she was hired by SCCC as a culinary department technical educational lab aide and supervisor.
The realization of Chez Nous is Heather’s ultimate dream, a stage where she can share her passion for all things French, with you, her guest.
Fabrice, a native of Brittany, France’s westernmost province, was the opening chef at Schenectady’s DoubleTree hotel. His background includes stints at restaurants in the Catskills and in New York City.
Patrick is a veteran of Saratoga’s Wine Bar. We are pleased to have him on the Chez Nous team.