Recipes for success: Chef Yann Lohez offers advice and a tasty tomato salad recipe 

DUBAI: French chef Yann Lohez has spent 15 years working in five-star hotels around the world, with stints at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, Geneva’s Kempinski Hotel, Evian Resort in France and now St. Regis Riyadh, where he works. executive chef.

His passion for cooking began in a picturesque country school where his mother cooked for 80 children.

“Every morning, during the break between classes, my classmates asked me to go to the kitchen and ask for the menu,” Lohez tells Arab News. “I would rush into the kitchen and smell the food. All these memories are in my head and they are stuck in my DNA.’


St. Regis Riyadh. (Supplied)

As he recalls, the first dish he tried to make himself was mayonnaise.

“My grandmother always made egg noodles for Sunday lunch and it was my job to make the mayonnaise. It’s a great memory. I remember this meal was amazing,” he says.

Here he discusses his favorite food and top tips for amateur cooks. He also shares an heirloom tomato salad recipe.


St. Regis Riyadh. (Supplied)

When you were starting out, what was the most common mistake you made?

I faced a lot of challenges, especially in baking. When baking, you must always follow the recipes and follow the technique. And as a cook, you make the recipes yourself. It was difficult for me to follow the correct recipe. Cooking is more about sense and feel, but with baked goods you have to follow the recipe exactly to get the right consistency. It was challenging. I always say I will never be a pastry chef because I don’t want to follow all these recipes. That was my challenge.

What is your best tip for amateur cooks?

Let’s take steak for example. When people cook at home, they take the steak out of the cooler and put it straight in the pan. This is a mistake. You must keep it at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. When the protein is in the refrigerator, it is very hard, so you need to make it softer. And you definitely need to add some marinade. You add sauce, olive oil, and some spices to bulk it up and allow the spices to turn into fiber. Only then will you cook your steak.


Greek Mezze. (Supplied)

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish?

It’s not a real ingredient. It’s patience. And love. Whoever you’re cooking for – yourself, your family, friends or even customers – you can’t get the food right without passion.

When you go out to eat, do you criticize the food?

Not really. I always go to restaurants to enjoy, not to criticize. I enjoy discovering different cultures, different foods and different ways of cooking. And it gives me inspiration.

What is the most common mistake you find in other restaurants?

It’s about how you engage with the guest. Sometimes the waiter is too close or too eager to interrupt. When I’m in a restaurant, I want to be free and enjoy the food and not be interrupted every five minutes.

When it comes to food, I’m French so I like my meat rare. Rare meat is hard to come by in this part of the world. It doesn’t have to be cooked from the inside, but hot. Very few restaurants do steak the way I like it.


Slow-braised beef checks the orzo ragout. (Supplied)

What is your favorite cuisine?

I don’t really have one. I am very open minded when it comes to food and food culture. I think it’s the best way to get new ideas. I love Indian food. I love Arabic food. I love Asian food. When I go back to France, I love a traditional slow-cooked meat or something buttery or creamy.

What is your favorite meal if you have to cook something quickly at home?

Omelet. I get very, very fast. I was also very excited because my father keeps chickens and I always get organic eggs. I think it’s the best way to get the right protein as well. Omelet will give you energy for the whole day. Production really takes five minutes. You can make it out of anything, anything you have at home.


Wild cep Aquerello risotto aged with Parmesan. (Supplied)

What customer request annoys you the most?

The guests sometimes do not respect the team. Mistakes can happen. We take opportunities to learn from our mistakes, but there is no point in showing a lack of respect to anyone.

What are you like as a chef?

To answer that, I’ll tell you a little about my background. As I told you, my mother was a cook, but my father was a military policeman. So I learned that discipline is very important to do things right. However, with this new generation, it is very important to be fair and to be close to them. You have to set an example. That’s the most important thing. I’ve had cooks who yell a lot, but that mindset doesn’t work anymore. I don’t shout in the kitchen. I’m strict but I want to be close to my team. That is the secret of success.

Chef Yann’s heirloom tomato salad recipe


Chef Yann’s heirloom tomato salad recipe. (Supplied)

INGREDIENTS:

160 g of goat cheese; 10 g of honey; 2 g Espelette chili

For Bloody Mary jelly: 0.5 l tomato juice; 5 drops of Worcestershire sauce; 2 drops of Tabasco; 10 g of vegetable gelatin; 2 g of celery salt

For heirloom tomatoes: 1 beef heart tomato; 2 black Krim tomatoes; 1 green zebra tomato; 2 yellow pineapple tomatoes; 8 cherry tomatoes; 1/2 bunch of watercress; 1/2 bunch of dill; 4 g of oregano salt; 2 g of a mixture of three peppers

For the basil oil: 200 ml of extra virgin olive oil; 1/2 bunch of basil leaves

For Kalamata soil: 50 g of Kalamata olives; 50 ml of balsamic cream

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese, honey and chili with a fork.

2. Roll four balls of 80 grams each. Wrap each of them in a 15 cm x 15 cm square of food foil. Close it by joining the four corners and turning it to make a tomato shape.

3. Put the four balls in the freezer for three hours until they harden, then remove the plastic and insert a skewer into each one. Store in the freezer until the Bloody Mary jelly is ready.

For Jelly Bloody Mary

1. Heat all the ingredients for the Bloody Mary jelly in a pan and whisk until the jelly is smooth.

2. Dip the goat cheese balls in the jelly on a skewer until they are red, shiny.

For heirloom tomatoes

1. Cut all the tomatoes into different shapes.

2. Keep four green tomatoes for decoration. Fry them for 30 seconds.

3. Seasoning is important. Add salt and pepper five minutes before serving.

4. Use watercress and dill leaves for decoration. Dry them together with tomatoes for five hours at a temperature of 60 degrees.

For basil oil

1. Put the basil leaves and olive oil in a blender and blend. Strain the oil through a coffee filter to obtain a clear green oil.

For Kalamata soil

Dry the olives for five hours at a temperature of 60 degrees (just like the tomatoes). When they solidify, let them cool and then mix until you get a powder.

PLATING:

Plating is always an opportunity to bring your creativity to the stage. My only advice is to reflect nature on the plate. Start with a slice of beef heart tomato in the center as a base for the goat cheese balls. Don’t forget to add a tomato stem to them to make ‘realistic’ tomatoes. Create a garden around it with the rest of the tomatoes. Add olive dust and a dollop of balsamic cream sauce for acidity. The dish should be served at room temperature.

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