A dish Parsnip Schnitzel by the chef Adam Wolfers, whose restaurant Ételek began a three month pop-up in July

When it came time to formulate the food offering for Ételek, his first standalone, bricks-and-mortar restaurant, it made sense that the chef Adam Wolfers would look first to his past.

Wolfers, who cut his teeth at the chef and restaurateur Brent Savage’s stable of restaurants and also completed a stage at Wylie Dufresne’s WD-50 in New York, had toured the country with his pop-up concept, and had no shortage of references to draw on. But for one dish in particular, he looked beyond his formal training to his childhood memories and revived one dish that has stayed with him since.

“The parsnip schnitzel is a take on what my grandmother used to cook us, Vienna schnitzel,” Wolfers says of the nostalgic dish, which is comprised of a veal schnitzel “bashed thin” by his Austrian grandmother, as opposed to the chicken that many would be familiar with. “I didn’t just want to put ‘a schnitty’ on [the menu] because it has been done to death as we well know, so I wanted to do a version of what she used to cook me [but] in a different way because vegetables are such a strong influence in my cooking from Brent [Savage, the chef-owner of Bentley, Monopole and Yellow]. Using influences from my childhood and my memories of working at Yellow, the dish came together and I like to think it works really well. Brent always tried to push our boundaries and ask, ‘Why can’t a vegetable be the star of the show and meat be an accompaniment to that?’ That’s how I think now as well about all the dishes we do at Ételek.”

Below, Wolfers shares with GRAZIA his fantastic recipe for parsnip schnitzel.

Parsnip Schnitzel (serves 4)
4 large parsnips
3 sprigs of thyme
3 cloves of crushed garlic
50ml olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of pepper 
400ml of canola/vegetable oil, for frying

For the crumb
300g of panko crumbs
2 tbsp of smoked paprika
2 tbsp of savoury yeast flakes
1 tsp of salt
500ml of buttermilk
200g of flour

Yoghurt dressing
80g of yoghurt
1/2 tsp of thyme leaves
1 small Eschallot, finely chopped
1 tsp of Baby capers, chopped
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of pepper 
1/2 tsp of Hot English Mustard
1/2 tsp of Garlic, minced
1 tbsp of Vegetable oil
1 tsp of Lemon

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees. Peel parsnips and cut in half. Place in a bowl, add olive oil, sea salt and pepper and toss to coat. Wrap parsnips in foil with garlic and thyme, and roast until a skewer can easily go through (about 20-25 mins). Remove parsnips from the foil, and allow to cool.

While cooling, with a whisk, mix all the yoghurt dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Next, make the crumb. Mix together smoked paprika, panko crumbs, yeast flakes, and salt with dry hands until combined, set aside.

Once parsnips are cooled, use a sharp knife to carefully cut out the core, without damaging the rest of the parsnip, and being sure to retain its shape. Arrange three bowls; one with the flour, one with buttermilk, and one with the crumb mix. First, coat each parsnip in the flour, followed by the buttermilk, draining any excess buttermilk off, then lightly press the parsnip in the bread crumbs, making sure it is fully covered. Set aside on a tray.

Preheat a pan with canola oil about 1cm in depth, and have a tray with some absorbent paper ready for draining. Heat the oil until about 180 degrees. Carefully place parsnips in oil cooking for about 1-2 mins each side, or until golden brown. Once coloured, sprinkle with a bit of salt. Place the schnitzels on a plate, with a few lemon wedges, alongside a separate bowl of the yoghurt dressing. Serve.

Tile and cover image: Jun Chen