Helena Puolakka, who has previously worked with Pierre Koffmann, Pierre Gagnaire and Gordon Ramsay, is taking over the kitchen as executive chef at renowned modern European restaurant, Skylon on the Southbank.
This will mark a return to the restaurant for Puolakka, from her six years spent at Skylon as executive chef in 2007. Originally from the south-west coast of Finland, Puolakka has devised a new menu at Skylon that showcases her classic French training, creating fresh and seasonal dishes. With stunning views across the River Thames, Skylon offers lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
Currently chef patron at Aster restaurant in Victoria, Puolakka will be overseeing the kitchen at both venues. Puolakka spent long summers in Archipelago of Finland ‘foraging, fishing and living off the land’ from a young age, which was when her dream of becoming a chef began.
Working in Paris under Pierre Gagnaire at his three-Michelin-starred eatery, Pierre Gagnaire in Hotel Balzac, Puolakka’s cooking has been refined by the French techniques learnt through her time there. Her menu at Skylon includes dishes with a French hint such as hand dived scallops with spinach and champagne veloute; chicken ballotine with girolles, turnips and a vin jaune sauce; chateaubriand with baby gem, truffled peas and madeira; brioche with mandarin jam, toasted milk mousse and lemon verbena and hot pear with feuille de brick, cocoa and creme fraiche.
Puolakka will be returning to the restaurant once again before she left in 2012 to become culinary director for Cirrus Inns before rejoining D&D London in 2017 to open Aster as chef patron.
Helena said: ‘Opening Skylon for D&D London was a new platform for me to learn the industry and was extremely valuable for my development for future roles. You can take the chef out of the kitchen but you can’t take the kitchen out of the chef so when the opportunity arose to bring my style of cooking back to Skylon, I couldn’t resist but to go back to the kitchen.’