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IN THE KITCHEN WITH CHEF ELISABETH PASSEDAT OF THE CLEVELAND ARMS

Head Chef of The Cleveland Arms shares a light January recipe to try at home

6th Jan 2021

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At the helm of The Cleveland Arms’ kitchen, Head Chef Elisabeth Passédat has curated a menu as alluring as the pub’s eclectic character. Here, she talks kitchen comforts, provenance and a recipe for recreating the perfect sweet-potato gyoza at home. You can taste Head Chef Elisabeth Passédat’s French heritage through the menu of The Cleveland Arms, or “Paddington’s local”. Expect roasted cod with peas à la française, chicken rillettes and moules à la crème – as well as a dash of Asian and South American influences.

It’s a fittingly eclectic menu for The Cleveland Arms, a Grade II-listed pub that was recently transformed by Maria Tamander, a film executive turned gastronomy aficionado, into a place that draws the community with its old-meets-new aesthetic.

Elisabeth, a former Masterchef: The Professionals contestant, joined team in 2019 after working in the kitchens of Aster, Pierre Koffman at The Berkeley, Claude Bosi’s Hibiscus and Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental. Here, she lets us in on her dreams for her home kitchen, why she never orders from Deliveroo and the recipe for sweet-potato gyoza that’s almost guaranteed to become your go-to comfort food.

Kitchen comforts with chef Elisabeth Passédat, plus, a recipe to try at home...

Talk us through your journey to becoming a chef...

I was 20 before learned to cook properly. I had passed a management degree in Paris and wanted to challenge myself. I love eating so the best way to control my food addiction was to dive in. My dad, a chef, taught me the basics of French cuisine at home while I was training for my first cooking degree. After a year, I flew to London, where I worked at Bar Boulud, at the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge – it was a very intense experience.

Are there any chefs that inspire you?

I would be tempted to say Pierre Koffmann; he helped me focus on the one, most essential thing: taste. Yet, many chefs and different cuisines have inspired me – and keep inspiring me still. A simple conversation can give me an idea. When your job is your passion you become like a sponge; it’s essential to absorb information from different perspectives.

For many people, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Does this ring true for you as a chef?

My kitchen is where I completely immerse myself. When I have an idea, nothing else matters until I come to a conclusion. It is where I am free to do anything I want without having to explain myself. It’s where my experiments take place – unfortunately for my partner, they’re not always successful!

Describe your dream kitchen…

I’d like to have my own experimental kitchen, with all the equipment you can find in a professional kitchen, but in my house. At the moment, I am happy with my kitchen because it’s bright and airy, equipped with the tools I got when doing competitions. What is missing, though, is an organised cupboard full of glass spice jars. I love spices, but my cupboard is currently filled with opened bags of them. It doesn’t look neat at all. It's my next kitchen mission!

You're at a dinner party. Do you prefer a relaxed kitchen dinner or a more formal affair?

It depends on the occasion. What’s important for me is to be at ease. There’s no point being formal if it stops you from enjoying your dinner – I guess a good balance between relaxed and formal is what I prefer.

There seems to be a divide between chefs that still enjoy cooking at home and those that don’t. Where do you fall on that spectrum?

I love cooking at home when I’m on holiday or for my partner from time to time. Though I’ll definitely never cook at home after a long day in the kitchen at work; if I’m honest, I’d rather have someone cooking for me!

What’s your best advice for people just getting into cooking or baking?

Find out where the products you buy come from. Check the carbon footprint of your ingredients and the companies who sell them. Many people don’t know that to produce a gallon of pistachios, it takes more than 1,000 gallons of water, for instance. It’s amazing to see people are get stuck into cooking or baking – hopefully this will inspire them to make more sensitive choices in the sourcing of their ingredients.

What’s your ultimate comfort food?

Anything that tastes good. Right now I’d like to eat a curry using Thai green-curry paste with some Thai rice. I love soaking bread, rice, pasta, etc. in a super-tasty sauce.

You’ve got a night off and are getting a takeaway at home. What’s your order?

I tend to order more and more plant-based items, whether that’s a pizza or Chinese food. I never order with Deliveroo, which takes around 33 per cent commission on the order. This leaves nothing to the restaurant and the people working hard to deliver the food. I’m trying to figure out what is best for me, the planet and the people serving the food.

What is your favourite design-led restaurant?

I like a restaurant with character, whether it’s modern or old-school. It’s important to feel the vision behind the design. For example, I love the design of the pub [The Cleveland Arms] where I’m working – you can tell all the details have been thought through. It’s not just a pub or restaurant, it represents the past and the future and I love it.

And finally, can you share a recipe for our readers to make at home…

Elisabeth Passédat’s Sweet-potato gyoza

For the gyoza mix:

200g red onions, diced
300g ginger, freshly grated
30g garlic, diced
5g chilli flakes
350g sweet potatoes, diced small
50g tomato puree
100ml water
10ml soy sauce

1. Sweat onions, ginger, garlic, chilli flakes until the onions are cooked through and not crunchy.
2. Add sweet potatoes, tomato paste, water and soy sauce and cook it down, stirring so it doesn’t attached at the bottom. Check the seasoning.

For the peanut cream:

20g shallots, sliced
5g garlic, diced
100g raw peanuts
400ml coconut milk (one tin)

1. Soak the peanuts overnight, ideally.
2. Sweat the shallots, garlic and add the peanuts and coconut milk.
3. Simmer until the peanuts soften (about two hours).
4. Blitz in a high-speed food processor.
5. Add salt and pepper to your taste.

For the dressing:

75g honey (or agave syrup)
2.5g chilli flakes
50g toasted sesame oil
20g soy sauce
25g dumpling vinegar (or rice vinegar)
Gyoza sheets, available in most Asian supermarkets

1. Fill the gyoza sheets with the sweet potato mix
2. Fry them or steam the gyoza, depending on your preference.
3. Spread some of the peanut sauce on the bottom of the plate. Top with the steamed or fried gyozas, add two tablespoons of dressing and a splash of fresh lime juice.

Bon appetit!

Read our interview with the owner of The Cleveland Arms, Maria Tamnder here.

theclevelandarms.com