Helena Puolakka, executive chef at Skylon, is set to leave the D&D London-owned restaurant to join pub group Cirrus Inns as operations director, replacing Mark Askew.
Finnish-born Puolakka, who has been at the helm of Skylon at the Royal Festival Hall since its launch in 2007, will join Cirrus Inns, the investment vehicle co-founded by Alex Langlands Pearse and Askew, on 4 March. Former Gordon Ramsay Holdings executive chef Askew will remain a shareholder in the business but is moving on to work on an as yet unnamed counter service project with Richard Caring.
In her role as operations director at Cirrus Inns, Puolakka will oversee the back of house operations at the groups various pubs, helping each site with recruitment, kitchen management and menu development. "I intend to be quite hands on involved and really want to share my knowledge," she said.
Puolakka joined Skylon in 2007 from her former role of executive chef at Harvey Nichols' Fifth Floor restaurant. Her CV also includes stints with Pierre Koffmann at La Tante Claire and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris as well as L'Oranger and Sonny's in Barnes, where she was head chef for three years.
Meanwhile Askew confirmed he was working on a "quality counter service" offer with Caring, although he said that no site had been secured so far and that it was too early to give further details on what exactly it is. Hannah Bass, UK director of operations at Hakkasan, has also joined the project.
"We've got some very good people together to work with, and we couldn't really turn it down - it's an exciting project," Askew said.
David Loewi, managing director at D&D London said: "Helena has been a tremendous accolade to D&D London over the past five years. Her personality and outstanding skills in the kitchen having been truly integral to the success of Skylon restaurant and grill, and we wish her all the very best in her new position."
By Kerstin KÁ¼hn
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