D&D London has appointed Helena Puolakka as executive chef of modern European restaurant, Skylon on Southbank.
She is currently the chef patron at Aster restaurant located in Nova Victoria, London and her new appointment will see Puolakka expand her role and take the helm at two restaurants in the capital within the D&D London portfolio.
Puolakka, originally from the south-west coast of Finland, first joined D&D London in 2007 as executive chef at Skylon where she stayed for six years. In 2013 she left D&D London to be culinary director for Cirrus Inns and in 2015 moved to the Royal Opera House restaurants until 2017. She returned to D&D London in 2017 to open Aster as chef patron.
During Puolakka’s 22 years working in kitchens, some of her former places of work include three-Michelin-starred French restaurant La Tante Claire in London and three-Michelin-starred eatery, Pierre Gagnaire in Hotel Balzac, Paris.
Puolakka cites her upbringing as an influence on her cooking style where she spent summers in Archipelago of Finland “foraging, fishing and living off the land” from a young age. She says her main inspiration came from her mother and grandmother but her cooking skills and passion for seasonal produce came from her time working with Koffman, Gagnaire and Ramsay.
Puolakka 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 cant take the kitchen out of the chef so when the opportunity arose to bring my concept and style of cooking back to Skylon, I couldn’t resist but go back to the kitchen.”