Recipes for success: Chef Yann Lohez offers advice and a tasty tomato salad recipe 

DUBAI: French chef Yann Lohez has spent 15 years working in five-star hotels around the world, with stints at Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace, Geneva’s Kempinski Hotel, France’s Evian Resort and now The St. Regis Riyadh, where the executive chef is located.

His passion for cooking began in the picturesque country school, where his mother cooked for 80 children.

“Every morning, during the break between classes, my colleagues would ask me to go to the kitchen and ask for the menu,” Lohez tells Arab News. “I would rush to the kitchen and I could smell the food. I have all these memories in my head and they are in my DNA.”

St. Regis Riyadh. (Provided)

The first dish he tried to make himself, he recalls, was mayonnaise.

“My grandmother always made egg noodles for Sunday lunch and my job was to make the mayonnaise. It’s a great memory. I remember this dish was amazing,” he says.

Here, he discusses his favorite dish and his top tips for amateur cooks. She also shares a tomato salad recipe.

St. Regis Riyadh. (Provided)

When you first started, what was the most common mistake you made?

I have faced many challenges, especially when making pastries. For pastries, you must always follow the recipes and you must follow the technique. And as a chef, you make the recipes yourself. I had a hard time following a proper recipe. Cooking is more about feel and feel, but for pastries you have to follow the recipe exactly to get the right consistency. It was a challenge. I always say I will never be a pastry chef because I don’t want to follow all these recipes. That was my challenge.

What is the best advice for amateur cooks?

Let’s take steak for example. When people cook at home, they take the steak out of the fridge and put it straight in the pan. This is a mistake. You need to keep it at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. When the protein is in the cooler, it is very hard, so you need to make it softer. And you definitely need to add some marinade. Add the sauce, olive oil and some spices to overload it and let the spices turn into fibers. Only then cook the steak.

Greek Mezze. (Provided)

What ingredient can instantly improve any dish?

It is not a real ingredient. It’s patience. And love. Whoever you’re cooking for—you, your family, your friends, or even customers—without passion you can’t get the dish right.

When you go out to eat, do you find yourself criticizing the food?

Not quite, not exactly. I always go to restaurants to enjoy, not to criticize. It makes me happy to explore different cultures, different foods and different ways of cooking. And it gives me inspiration.

What is the most common mistake you find in other restaurants?

It’s about how you interact with the guest. Sometimes the waiter is too close or too eager to interrupt. When I’m in a restaurant, I want to be free and enjoy the food and not be interrupted every five minutes.

When it comes to food, I’m French so I like my meat rare. It is difficult in this part of the world to get rare meat. It should not be cooked on the inside, but hot. Very few restaurants do steak the way I like it.

Slow-braised beef, orzo ragout. (Provided)

What is your favorite cuisine?

I really don’t have one. I am very open minded when it comes to food and food culture. I think it’s the best way to get new ideas. I like Indian food. I like Arabic food. I like Asian food. When I go back to France I like to have traditional slow cooked meat or something buttery or creamy.

What is your go-to dish if you need to cook something quickly at home?

Omelette. It’s very, very quick to do for me. I am very passionate about it and because my father raises chickens and I always buy organic eggs. I think it’s the best way to get the right protein too. An omelet gives you strength throughout the day. It really takes five minutes to make. You can do it with anything, anything you have at home.

Wild cep risotto Aquerello aged parmesan. (Provided)

What is the customer request that annoys you the most?

Sometimes the guests do not respect the team. Mistakes can happen. We take opportunities to learn from our mistakes, but there is no point in showing disrespect to anyone.

As a head chef, how are you?

To answer that, I’ll tell you a little about my background. As I told you, my mother was a cook, but my father was a military policeman. So I learned that discipline is very important to get things right. However, with this new generation, it is very important to be fair and close to them. You must lead by example. That is the most important. We’ve had chefs who yell a lot, but that mentality doesn’t work anymore. I don’t shout in the kitchen. I’m strict, but I want to be close to my team. This is the secret of success.

Chef Yann’s traditional tomato salad recipe

Chef Yann’s traditional tomato salad recipe. (Provided)


160 g goat cheese; 10 g of honey; 2 g Espelette chili

For the Bloody Mary jelly: 0.5L tomato juice; 5 drops of Worcestershire sauce; 2 drops tabasco; 10 g vegetable gelatin; 2 g celery salt

For the heirloom tomatoes: 1 beef heart tomato; 2 Black Krim tomatoes; 1 zebra green tomato; 2 yellow pineapple tomatoes; 8 cherry tomatoes; 1/2 bunch of chervil; 1/2 bunch of dill; 4 g of oregano salt; 2 g mixture of three peppers

For the basil oil: 200ml extra virgin olives; 1/2 bunch of basil leaves

For the Kalamata soil: 50g Kalamata olives; 50 ml balsamic cream sauce


1. In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese, honey and chili with a fork.

2. Roll four balls of 80 grams each. Wrap each one in a 15cm x 15cm square of cling film. Close it by bringing the four corners together and flipping to make a tomato shape.

3. Put the four balls in the freezer for three hours, until they spin hard, then remove the plastic and insert a skewer into each one. Store in the freezer until your Jelly Bloody Mary is ready.

For the Jelly Bloody Mary

1. Heat all the ingredients for the Bloody Mary jelly in a pan and whisk until the jelly is smooth.

2. Dip the goat cheese balls in the jelly on their skewers until they are a bright red color.

For heirloom tomatoes

1. Cut all the tomatoes into different shapes.

2. Reserve four green tomatoes for decoration. Fry them for 30 seconds.

3. Seasoning is important. Add salt and pepper five minutes before plating.

4. Use chervil and dill leaves for decoration. Dry them, together with the tomatoes, for five hours at 60 degrees.

For the basil oil

1. Place the basil leaves and olive oil in a blender and blend. Strain the oil through a coffee filter to obtain clear green oil.

For Kalamata soil

Dry the olives for five hours at 60 degrees (same as the tomatoes). When they harden, let them cool, then mix until we get a powder.


Cladding is always a chance to bring your creativity to the stage. My only advice is to reflect nature on your plate. Start with the beef heart tomato slice in the middle as the base for your goat cheese balls. Don’t forget to add a tomato stem to create “realistic” tomatoes. Create a garden around it with the rest of the tomatoes. Add olive dust and a dollop of balsamic cream sauce for acidity. The dish should be served at room temperature.

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