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Theo Clench

Portland, United Kingdom
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Brighton native Chef Theo Clench began his career in a local tearoom and has since become Head Chef at his second Michelin-starred restaurant and one of London’s finest. He believes in leading by example and surrounds himself with a team that loves the job as much as he does. On his one day off a week, Chef Clench takes a break from cooking and will enjoy a simple pizza as his guilty pleasure.

A talk with Theo Clench

Can you tell us about your journey as a Chef?
When I was 14 years old, a couple gave me a chance to work Saturdays at their tearoom in Brighton. This experience really started off my cooking journey and I would love to have the chance to thank them for it. I believe cooking allows you to be creative, as every day in the kitchen is different. To me, it is one of the most exciting professions, but ultimately it is all about the guests and creating memories of their special occasions. Cooking is about putting smiles on the faces of others.
How would you describe the atmosphere of your restaurant?
Growing up, family dinner was a sacred, shared moment. This spurred me to want my kitchen to be built on teamwork in an environment where we support each other. It creates bonds and friendships that last a lifetime. I treat everyone with respect and try to set a good example, always looking for people who love the job as much as I do. We take turns selecting the music in the kitchen, which I think lifts the mood and helps keep people focused.
Can you share any fun facts about the onion?
In the Middle Ages the onion was used as currency, which is not surprising when you realise it is a staple for cuisines around the world. Only when you really start looking into its varied uses throughout different cultures do you see how widespread it is. This ingredient, which is so often overlooked because we eat it every day, is the building block for thousands of dishes.
Do you recall your first glass of Krug?
It was a glass of Krug Grande Cuvée when we were celebrating our first Michelin star at my previous restaurant. The news broke when the owner came running into the kitchen at lunch, telling us the guide had leaked. With a bottle of Krug in hand, he poured us all a glass. I must say that the overwhelming feeling of being awarded a Michelin star and enjoying this bottle of Champagne for the first time in the middle of the lunch service is something I will never forget. Since that moment, the fullness of flavours and aromas of Krug Grande Cuvée goes hand in hand with treasured moments for me.
Can you tell us about a memorable champagne pairing you have enjoyed?
My memorable pairing experience with Krug would have to be with the onion on this trip to Jaipur with some of the most talented Chefs from around the world. It was an amazing experience to see a whole new aspect of a humble single ingredient and how deeply rooted it is in the local culture and cuisine. It was also a chance for me to be inspired by the techniques and methods of the other Chefs. Although we all started with the simple onion, we each ended up with vastly different interpretations for our Krug pairings. During these unforgettable three days, Krug brought us all together and formed lasting friendships.

Cevenne onions, turbot, morels and alsace bacon

Cevenne onions, turbot, morels and alsace bacon

  • STARTER
    6 SERVINGS
  • timing
    24H45
  • preparation time
    24H
  • Cooking time
    45 MINUTES

INGREDIENTS

STEP 1.

6 white onions

200 g butter

PM maldon sea salt

 

STEP 2.

8 Cevenne onions

1 head garlic

0,5 bouquet thyme

1 kg button mushrooms

1 bouquet bay leaves

50 g dried morels

 

STEP 3.

250 g pearl onions

300 ml filtered water

100 g sugar

200 ml white wine vinegar

 

STEP 4.

400 g Alsace bacon

500 ml filtered water

 

STEP 5.

2 Cevenne onions

100 g rice flour

300 ml vegetable oil for frying

 

STEP 6.

2 Cevenne onions

3 l filtered water

PM agar agar

 

STEP 7.

1 turbot (6 kg)

 

STEP 8.

250 g morels

RECIPE DEVELOPMENT

STEP 1. ONION PURÉE

Finely slice onions and sweat down in butter and salt until they are a deep caramel colour. Deglaze the pan with 200 ml of water, making sure to scrape all the sediment off the pan. Blend in a vitamix and emulsify with 50 g of cold butter whilst blending, pass through chinox, chill over ice and set aside.

 

STEP 2. BURNT ONION STOCK

Cut Cevenne onions in halves and burn facedown in a saucepan. Once a deep colour, remove from the pan. Slice button mushrooms, add to the pass and cook until caramelised. Add in thyme, bay leaves and garlic and sweat down. Return the burnt onions to the pan and cover with filtered water. Cook for one hour. After the time is up, pass stock through a chinox into a fresh saucepan and reduce by half. Once reduced, pass again and chill over ice.

 

STEP 3. PICKLED PEARL ONIONS

Peel onions, leaving the roots attached. In a saucepan combine water, sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil. Pour over peeled onions. Allow to cool slightly and then place in a medium sous vide bag. Cook at 85°C in a water bath or steamer for 15 min. Chill in an ice bath and reserve for later.

 

STEP 4. ALSACE BACON LARDONS

Remove skin and sinew, cut into slices about 2 cm from the bacon, then poach and dice. Place in a pan of cold water and bring to a boil then remove from heat and strain, reserving the bacon for later use.

 

STEP 5. CEVENNE ONION CRISPS

Peel onions, slice lengthways on a mandoline. Dust lightly in rice flour and fry at 150°C for 30 sec or until lightly golden. Drain off the onion crisps and place in a dehydrator for 8 hours at 80°C.

 

STEP 6. CEVENNE ONION GEL

Cut onions in half, place in a deep gastro and cover in filtered water. Place a lid on top and steam in the oven overnight (24 hours) at 85°C. Remove and strain into a sauce pan, reduce and skim constantly until you have 500 ml of stock left. Add 5 g of agar agar and cook out for 3 min. Pour onto a tray and leave to set in the fridge. Once set blend in a vitamix, place in container and pass through the vacuum sealer 3 times to remove all the air. Place into a squeezy bottle and reserve for later.

 

STEP 7. TURBOT

Fillet turbot, then skin. Split the large dark fillet in two. Cut into portions and set aside.

 

STEP 8. MOREL

Cut off the stalk and wash quickly in 4 bowls of tepid water, drain and place on a cloth to dry.

 

SERVING INSTRUCTIONS

In a hot pan, char off remaining pearl and Cevenne onions, once cooked, remove and set aside until cool enough to handle. Then peel and place on a tray. Warm up onion purée. Bring stock to a boil and then enrich with egg yolks and butter to make the sauce. Petal the pickled onions and place on a tray, ready to serve. Sweat down bacon in a touch of oil. Once crispy, add butter and morels to the pan. Once cooked, fold in the charred onion petals. In the meantime, heat up a frying pan with a generous amount of oil and start pan-frying the turbot. Bring up all the garnish together and start to plate. Drain the fish and place next to the garnish. Sauce the plate and then finish with Cevenne onion crisps, onion gel and freshly picked chervil.

PAIRING NOTES
The Champagne is bold with a fullness of flavours that comes through those of the onion. The palate of Krug Grande Cuvée 168ème Édition is mirrored by the notes of the dish with sweetness and freshness, which is why they complement each other so well.
Krug Grande Cuvée 168ème Édition

The Most Generous Expression of Champagne

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