September 7, 2017

10 Questions: Helena Puolakka

Helena Puolakka is the executive chef at Aster in London, UK.

  1. What does your ultimate breakfast consist of?

Boiled eggs, avocado, sourdough, home-made jam, great cheese and salted butter.

  1. What is your typical working day like?

Starting at 8 am and finishing anything between 6 pm–11 pm. Catching up with the team in the morning about what is happening that day and the next. Meeting with customers, both new and regulars. Normally one full day of admin work and the rest of the week between two kitchens and floor during service hours.

  1. What are your favorite things about the Finnish summer?

Swimming in the sea and lakes, sauna, wild berries, late nights with fabulous sunsets, open fireplaces.

  1. Why did you decide to become a chef?

Love and passion for food.

  1. How would you describe your style of cooking?

Nordic French is my concept: feminine, light, fresh, clean, more Nordic in style and French elements on the technical side.

  1. What trends are emerging with Finnish cuisine?

Powerful ingredients, clean flavours and strong seasonality, which is a necessity in our country.

  1. As a boss, what is your style of management like?

Firm but fair. I am a great believer in new kitchen culture and those days are over when screaming and shouting gained results…. But every team always has a member who functions better under huge pressure, sadly.

  1. Who or what inspires you and why?

People I have worked for, like Pierre Koffmann, Pierre Gagnaire, Gordon Ramsay, mainly for their passion and dedication and willingness to succeed. My grandmothers, both working hard to provide for their families and be innovative for their generation.

  1. When are you at your happiest at work?

After a great service, when the entire team is working like an orchestra without too much effort.

  1. How do you relax?

Cooking for friends and family, classical music, swimming, quality time with my children, by the sea.

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