Chef Paul O’Connell opened Chez Henri, the French restaurant with a Latin twist, in Cambridge in 1994. Chez Henri was named best new restaurant that year by both Esquire and Bon Appetite and has gone on to win several Best of Boston awards including “Best Fusion,” “Best French Restaurant,” “Best Cocktail: Mojito,” and “Best First Date Restaurant.”
Upon graduating from Johnson and Wales University, Paul worked with several of Boston’s top chefs, including Lydia Shire at the Parker House Hotel, Jasper White at the eponymous Restaurant Jasper, Chris Schlesinger at the East Coast Grill and with Todd English as opening sous chef at Olives in Charlestown. While working with these chefs Paul learned the importance of using locally grown and raised foods and honed his skills in wood-fire grilling and pastries.
In 1993, Paul opened his first restaurant, Providence, in Brookline, which received critical acclaim including three stars from the Boston Globe and recognition from both Esquire and Gourmet. Paul closed Providence in 2000 and now focuses solely on Chez Henri.
Paul is also committed to many charities such as “Greater Boston Food Bank,” “Taste of the NFL,” “The Farm School” and the “Super Hunger Brunch.” Paul is a member of Slow Food and The Chefs Collaborative.
Paul has appeared on “Good Morning America,” “The CBS Early Show,” Chronicle and the PBS series “Cooking Around Town.” He has also written for The Journal of Gastronomy and Food Arts about his travels in Cuba.
Paul and his wife Lisa, live near Boston with their children Henry and Giuliana and their dogs Cooper and Charlie.
Smoked Cod Chowder with Lobster and Chile Lime Butter
Serves 8 people
Ingredients for the Smoked Cod Chowder:
3 lbs. smoked cod
1 lb. cooked lobster meat
1 lb. unsalted butter
2 cups onion, minced
2 cups leek, 1/4 inch dice
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
6 cups yellow potatoes, peeled, 1/2 inch dice
1 cup white wine
5 cups fish fume
5 cups heavy cream
sea salt and pepper to taste
For the Chile-Lime Butter:
1 lb. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. lime zest
1/8 cup ancho chile powder
1 tsp. garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Directions for the Chowder:
1. Rinse the smoked cod in cold water for one hour; skin and bone, if necessary, and cut into 2-inch pieces.
2. Pick through the lobster meat and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
3. Place the butter in a large casserole dish and melt over medium heat.
4. Add the onions, leeks, potatoes and herbs. Cook until onions are soft, stirring occasionally so no browning occurs.
5. Add the white wine and heavy cream and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes.
6. Add the fish fume and smoked cod. Simmer until cod is tender.
7. Add lobster and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Directions for the Chile-Lime Butter:
1. Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and puree until well blended.
2. Chill in refrigerator until ready for use.
Ladle the chowder into individual bowls. Using a small melon-baller, place one small scoop of chile-lime butter on top of chowder. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.