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Helena Puolakka named as executive chef for new D&D restaurant

D&D London’s restaurant in the Nova quarter of London’s Victoria is to be named Aster.

The 10,000 square foot space will be designed by Russell Sage Studios, and will be set across two floors, comprising a Café and Deli on the ground floor and an upstairs Restaurant and Bar.

The kitchen will be overseen by executive chef, Helena Puolakka, and will serve the Nordic cuisine of her Finnish heritage using the classic French techniques she has refined over her career.

Hailing from the south-west coast of Finland, Helena’s upbringing has shaped her style of cooking, which focuses 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.

Traditional Nordic delicacies such as fish roe, pickled herring and wild berries will sit alongside comforting cinnamon buns and open sandwiches of house cured Var salmon on rye in the Café and Deli.

Upstairs in the Restaurant, more refined dishes of meatballs a la Lindstrom, with beef and beetroot; juniper-smoked turbot with tender leeks and butter sauce; and even a tasting of fish roes and a selection of blinis with matching vodkas and aquavits will be available. A number of vegetarian and vegan dishes will also feature throughout the menus.

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.