The Mandrake’s chef exchange menu is an explosion of flavours
Two executive chefs come together to create a beautiful blend of South American and Peruvian flavours in this one-of-a-kind tasting menu
The Mandrake in London’s Fitzrovia recently hosted Carlo Valentino-Garcia, executive chef of Dubai’s PLAYA Beach Restaurant, for a three-day residency and ten-course collaborative menu at the five-star boutique hotel, which can only be described as the most delicious blend of South American and Peruvian cuisines.
Available throughout November, this tantalising tasting menu features Carlo and George Scott-Toft (executive chef of the hotel’s South American-inspired restaurant YOPO) creating one dish each across five courses, treating guests to a flavour of both master chefs’ signature serves. The menu blends George’s South American-inspired cooking with Carlo’s Peruvian roots, creating an explosion of flavours.
As we sat down to experience this collaborative menu, serenaded by live music and a bustling ambience, we were presented with a symphony of seafood and meat-based dishes. We started with some octopus empanadas with squid ink pastry, roast onion and black olive filling and wagyu causa, which was accompanied by Peruvian potato, aji amarillo, wagyu ribeye, rocoto and leche de tigre.
What followed next was, in our opinion, one of the true stars of the show. The decadent oyster ceviche – served with zetas, smoked emulsion, choclo and cancha corn, and seafoam — was, in addition to being downright delicious, full of fun visual flair. This ceviche was, hands down, some of the best seafood I’ve ever had. My guest – an oyster novice – agreed.
The second part of this course was George’s fresh yellowtail tiradito served sashimi style, with sweet potato and a host of punchy flavours including chilli, lime and plantain. It was the perfect accompaniment to the ceviche.
Next, we moved on to the beef tenderloin anticucho – inspired by Peruvian street food – and an extra-large serving of fried gambas dusted in sherry vinegar powder and preserved in plum and ancho chilli condiment.
The main course from both chefs were the showstoppers of the whole meal. First came the 48-hour slow cooked short ribs by Carlo, which was inspired by Chifa cuisine — a Chinese-Peruvian culinary tradition, based on Cantonese elements.
This was quickly followed by George’s delectable and fragrant green bomba rice with turbot, wild mushrooms and grilled avocado. The really commendable thing about each course was that every single thing was meticulously thought out. Where one dish is meat forward and full of punchy flavours, the other dish will provide a perfect balance with a slightly sweeter flavour.
This collaborative menu not only showcased the fine precision of two prestigious chefs, but introduced a true culinary dialogue between each pairing, complimenting each other through flavour and style to create a beautiful harmony. South American and Peruvian cuisines pair so well together, and the care taken to ensure each region had its moment was visible throughout the tasting.
For dessert, we rounded off with a tres leches sponge cake and a serving of xoco chocolate with passionfruit and guava alfajores, which served as a perfect end to a beautiful culinary journey.
This one of a kind menu’s show-stopping presentation and remarkable flavours, combined with YOPO’s unmatched atmosphere and striking interiors, create a sensory experience like no other. This is a collaboration that you simply do not want to miss.