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, including the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, the Kempinski Hotel in Geneva, the Evian Resort in France and now the St. Regis in Riyad, where the chef is staying.

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

“Every morning, during a break between classes, my classmates would ask me to go to the kitchen and ask for the menu,” Lohez tells Arab News. “I ran to the kitchen and smelled food. I have all these memories in my head and they are stuck in my DNA.”


St. Regis Riyadh. (Included)

The first dish he tried to prepare himself, as he recalls, was mayonnaise.

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

Here, he discusses his favorite dish and his best tips for amateur cooks. He also shared a recipe for tomato salad.


St. Regis Riyadh. (Included)

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

I faced many challenges, especially when making cookies. When it comes to cookies, always follow the recipes and technique. As a chef, you prepare the recipes yourself. I had a hard time sticking to the correct recipe. Cooking is more about sense and feeling, but in the case of baking, you have to follow the recipe exactly to get the right consistency. It was a challenge. I always say that I will never be a pastry chef because I don’t want to follow all these recipes. This was my challenge.

What’s your best tip for amateur cooks?

Take steak for example. When people cook at home, they take the steak out of the refrigerator and put it straight into the pan. This is an error. You need to keep it at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. When the egg white is in the refrigerator, it is very hard, so it needs to be refined. And you definitely need to add some marinade. You add sauce, olive oil and some spices to overpower it and allow the spices to turn into fiber. Only then prepare the steak.


Greek Mezze. (Included)

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish?

This is not a real ingredient. It’s patience. And love. Whoever you cook for – yourself, your family, friends, or even clients – without passion you cannot prepare the right dish.

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

Not really. I always go to restaurants to have fun, not to criticize. I enjoy discovering different cultures, different food and different ways of cooking. And that gives me inspiration.

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

What matters is the way you connect with your guest. Sometimes the waiter is too close or too eager to interrupt. When I’m at a restaurant, I want to be free, enjoy my 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 should not be cooked in the middle, but hot. Very few restaurants do steak the way I like it.


Slow-braised beef checks out the orzo ragout. (Included)

What is your favorite cuisine?

I don’t actually have one. I am very open to food and food culture. I think this is the best way to get new ideas. I love Indian food. I love Arabic cuisine. I love Asian food. When I go back to France, I love traditional, slow-cooked meat or something buttery or creamy.

What dish do you choose if you need to cook something quickly at home?

Omelette. I make them very, very quickly. I’m very passionate about this, also because my father raises chickens and I always get organic eggs. I think it’s also the best way to provide adequate protein. The omelet will give you energy for the whole day. It really takes five minutes to make. You can make it with anything you have at home.


Risotto with wild Aquerello ceps matured in Parmesan cheese. (Included)

What customer request annoys you the most?

Sometimes guests don’t respect the team. Mistakes can happen. We take the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, but there is no point in disrespecting anyone.

What are you like as a chef?

To answer this question, I will tell you a little about my background. As I said, my mother was a cook, but my father was a gendarme. So I learned that discipline is very important if we want to perform tasks well. However, with the new generation, it is very important to act honestly and be close to them. You have to lead by example. This is the most important. I’ve had chefs who shouted a lot, but that way of thinking doesn’t work anymore. I don’t shout in the kitchen. I’m rigorous, but I want to be close to my team. This is the secret to success.

Chef Yann’s tomato salad recipe


Chef Yann’s tomato salad recipe. (Included)

INGREDIENTS:

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

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

For heirloom tomatoes: 1 beef tomato; 2 black tomato tomatoes; 1 green zebra tomato; 2 yellow pineapple tomatoes; 8 cherry tomatoes; 1/2 bunch of chervil; 1/2 bunch of dill; 4 g of oregano salt; 2g 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 kalamata olive; 50 ml of balsamic-cream sauce

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 square of food foil measuring 15 x 15 cm. Close it by connecting the four corners and turning it to make a tomato shape.

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

For Bloody Mary jelly

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

2. Soak the goat cheese balls in the jelly on skewers until they become shiny red.

For old tomatoes

1. Cut all the tomatoes into different shapes.

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

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

4. Use chervil and dill leaves to decorate. Dry them together with the tomatoes for five hours at 60 degrees.

For basil oil

1. Put basil leaves and olive oil in the mixer and mix. Strain the oil through a coffee filter to obtain a clear, green oil.

For Kalamata soil

Dry olives for five hours at 60 degrees (same as tomatoes). Once they have hardened, allow them to cool and then mix until you have 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 tomato with a beef heart in the center as the base for the goat cheese balls. Don’t forget to add a tomato stem to them to create “realistic” tomatoes. Create a garden around it with the rest of your tomatoes. To increase the acidity, add a little olive oil and a dash of balsamic cream sauce. The dish should be served at room temperature.

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