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Chef’s Dish: Lesley Draper talks to Oli & Sam Parnell

Head chef Oli Parnell (left) and twin brother Sam - Horsley Lodge Brasserie
Head chef Oli Parnell (left) and twin brother Sam - Horsley Lodge Brasserie

Double delight with these tasty pastries.

Diners at Derbyshire’s newest brasserie can bank on good food – at the double...

Head chef Oli Parnell at work

Head chef Oli Parnell at work

For head chef Oliver Parnell shares responsibility for the restaurant at Horsley Lodge with sous chef Sam – his twin brother.

The two have built up an impressive portfolio between them over the last few years, taking in a number of award-winning restaurants.

But although Oli is the boss these days, Sam was the one who undertook formal chef’s training at Sheffield’s Castle College.

“I always joke to Sam that he was the one who did the professional training and now I’m his boss – but he seems to be ok about it!” says Oli.

Banana & Salted Chocolate Mille Feuille - Horsley Lodge Brasserie

Banana & Salted Chocolate Mille Feuille - Horsley Lodge Brasserie

He studied business enterprise at university, but later, inspired by a work placement at Le Manoir au Quat’ Saisons, he decided to follow his brother into the kitchen.

“It was a leap of faith but I joined Sam, working under him. He was inspirational – took the time to take me through all the processes, instilling disciplines that make the difference between turning out some ordinary or something extraordinary.”

The brothers are close, sharing a home as well as a workplace for many years.

These days they both have partners, but still find time to do up old houses together: “We both like to work hard,” says Oli. “We certainly work well as a team otherwise we wouldn’t spend so much time together.”

The Brasserie at Horsley Lodge

The Brasserie at Horsley Lodge

The twins work as a double act and, over the years, have shared the kitchen at a number of venues across the area.

At the Manor House Hotel in Dronfield, it was Sam who was appointed head chef, with Oli as his sous.

Oli took over when Sam left to work in Australia – and broadened his leadership skills as head chef at the acclaimed Peak Edge Hotel. Sam later joined him, helping to win 2 AA rosettes.

Now they are together again at Horsley Lodge Brasserie. It opened just before Christmas and is aiming for a reputation as a destination restaurant, with an old building and designer interiors.

The menu features a contemporary take on classic British dishes. Good quality local produce is a passion and everything is freshly cooked by Oli, Sam and their team.

Oli enjoys experimenting with recipes and ingredients: “My signature dish at the moment is banana and salted chocolate mille feuille – it’s a great flavour combination, nicely balanced and not too rich.

“But we’re continually tweaking and creating, so ask me in a couple of months and it might be something different!”

Recipe By: Oliver Parnell

MILLE FEUILLE:

500g puff pastry (home made or good quality bought)

Roll out pastry sheet, place between 2 baking trays and bake at 180ºC for 8 mins.

Take out and cut into rectangles – around 10cm x 5cm – using a template to ensure they are all the same size.

Bake in the oven between two trays for another 8 mins.

Remove and dust with icing sugar

SALTED CREAMEUX:

250 ml milk

380g dark chocolate (high cocoa solids)

250ml cream

50g sugar

100g egg yolk

sea salt

Heat milk, cream and sugar to 65ºC. Add one-third of this mixture to the egg; stir well and then add the rest.

Heat to 85ºC then pour over the chocolate. Mix to melt and combine; add sea salt to taste.

CREME FRAICHE SORBET:

380g sugar

150ml water

1.2 kg crème fraîche

Bring sugar and water to boil for 2 mins, cool and whisk in crème fraîche. Finally, churn in an ice cream maker or freeze for at least four hours.

BANANA CREME PATISSIERE:

500ml banana milk 
(make your own or use a good quality brand)

100g sugar

6 egg yolks

20g cornflour

20g plain flour

Heat milk. Whisk together egg yolk, flours and sugar, add hot milk and return to pan. Whisk till thick.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Sandwich pastry layers with piped blobs of banana and chocolate, as shown in picture. We serve with bruléed banana and red vein sorrel.