Chef Hugo Pinto of Le Velvet Paris.

For nearly a year, Chef Hugo Pinto has been commanding the kitchen at Le Velvet in Paris. Chef Pinto, who loves football and traveling, has experience that belies his youth.

Morue is a traditional French dish made with codfish.

His  kitchen apprentice training  includes at Altitude 95 Tour Eiffel, later as Demi Chef de Partie at Le Congres Maillot, and after several jobs and internships became First Chef de Partie at Le Quinzième Cuisine Attitude under Cyril Lignac, where he was eventually promoted to sous-chef until taking on the head chef position at Lignac’s Le Chardenoux.

He briefly tasted life at the front-of-the-house managing Le Péché Mignon but returned to his passion of cooking and was hired as the chef at the new Le Velvet in August 2011. Building the business plate by plate over the months, Chef Pinto continues to soothe and impress a steady local clientele and international business travelers hungry for what can be termed at his bistro as “French comfort food.”

Le Velvet occupies a smart corner of an in-the-know Paris favorite, Hotel Beauchamps, with windows that see out to a narrow street just steps away from the grand boulevard Champs Elysées. In this “bistro-chic” restaurant, local and international wines by the glass are offered to pair easily with each course. The menu and wine change to follow the seasons.

The seafood and Mediterranean spices always make an appearance in the menu along with traditional French favorites interpreted by Chef Pinto’s fresh flavor profiles. After shopping in nearby world-class stores, this is a great stop for lunch or perhaps a relaxed dinner. Find Le Velvet’s current menu at: www.hotelbeauchamps.com

Le Velvet’s Chef Pinto: Codfish in Casserole (Morue)

Makes 1 serving

  1. 5.25 ounces Coco de Paimpol (haricot beans)
  2. 1 carrot
  3. 1 onion
  4. 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  5. 4 teaspoons butter
  6. 3 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
  7. 7 ounces fresh codfish
  8. 2 teaspoons cooked chorizo sausage, chopped
  9. 1/2 teaspoon Tagliache olives, whole
  10. 1 sprig fresh parsley
  11. 5 or 6 baby tomatoes, cut in half

Chop carrot and onion. Cook the beans in vegetable stock with the carrot, onion, and salt for 30 minutes.

Put the beans at the side of the oven in order to let them swell (and absorb cooking stock). Once cooked, take out a third of the beans with slotted spoon, reserving the rest of beans and liquid. Toss in fresh tomatoes into reserved beans.

Blend 1/3 of beans with the butter and cream until smooth. Set aside.

Cook the cod in olive oil with skin side down. Once fried (skin is browned), finish cooking the cod in the oven at a low temperature of 175 degrees F. Set aside.

In a small casserole dish, spoon in smooth bean mixture, then add the rest of the cooked beans and the remaining liquid, top with the cod (skin side up), chorizo, and finally garnish with the olives and parsley.