Aster‘s Executive Head Chef Helena Puolakka hails from the south-west coast of Finland, which has shaped her style of cooking: focusing on uncomplicated, homemade food and distinctive flavours. Her Nordic background also instilled in her a sense of location and an expression of this through food. Her French culinary training adds a completely different dimension to dishes, departing from Scandinavia’s wind-swept landscape of endless forests, deep lakes and the churning sea, to the tranquil vistas of Southern France, where every aspect of daily life is informed by the region’s sunny climate, vibrant produce and intrinsic love of food and cooking. The menus throughout Aster will be built upon this exciting combination.
Aster marks a return to D&D for Helena, who originally worked for the group as executive chef to launch Skylon, where she stayed for six years until 2013. In recent years she has worked as chef director for luxury pub company, Cirrus Inns’ Epicurean Collection, and Company of Cooks, whose portfolio includes The Royal Opera House, National Portrait Gallery and Royal Academy. Her previous experience also includes working as head chef at Pierre Koffmann’s three-Michelin starred restaurant La Tante Claire and with Pierre Gagnaire at his eponymous three-Michelin starred restaurant at Hotel Balzac in Paris.