How The Team At République Created Adele's Favorite Croquette

When you're at a world-famous pop star's concert, you expect to hear chart-topping hits and perhaps some jokes for the crowd, but maybe one thing you don't expect to hear about is ... croquettes. Well, concertgoers at one of Adele's Las Vegas residency concerts earlier this year got to hear about the pop star's love for the ham and cheese croquettes from République, one of the top restaurants in LA. The moment also went viral on TikTok after a fan recorded it. 

It's not often someone like Adele raves publicly about a dish she ate, unprompted, so we wanted to find out what was so special about these ham and cheese croquettes. To do so, we interviewed Walter Manzke, the award-winning chef behind République. He was pleasantly surprised by the sudden attention Adele gave his restaurant, even though he mentioned that she is a frequent République customer. According to Manzke, "It's not often that you go to a concert and they're discussing what they had for dinner ... to have her stand behind us like that, it's really an honor."

Manzke gave us a glimpse into the creative process that went into the croquettes and how they're made, as well as the unique ingredient that gives this dish its delicious twist. Read ahead to learn about the inner workings of a top restaurant's kitchen, and if you're in Southern California, perhaps you'll be inspired to drop by République and order this dish yourself.

The idea developed as a way to use left over pig legs

République chef Walter Manzke credited one of the cooks on his team with coming up with the incredible ham and cheese croquettes that Adele loved. He made it clear that the menu at République (and, for that matter, at most of his restaurants) is always the result of a collaborative team effort, as he trusts his staff's imagination and expertise. As Manzke put it, "We bounce ideas off each other, work together, and try different things."

According to Manzke, the recipe behind the ham and cheese croquettes is relatively simple. It all came about after the team couldn't figure out what to do with a particular pork product. 

The head chef shared, "We were buying whole pigs from this farm and utilizing all the different cuts, and you're always left with the legs, which we started curing into hams." Manzke thought they should utilize as many of the cuts as possible in order to avoid wasting food. Then, one of his chefs had the fabulous idea to use these hams for croquettes and came up with the entire recipe.

It's all about the ingredients

Walter Manzke's philosophy of cooking and menu building is pretty straightforward: it's all about the ingredients. If you start with high-quality ingredients sourced from carefully selected regions and farms and always picked in season, you can't really go wrong with what you're making. If the ingredients are low quality, to begin with, you will probably have to put a lot of extra effort into covering up bland or off-putting tastes.

In this case, the croquettes were made with exceptional pork cured into ham, Comté cheese from France, and bound with béchamel sauce. Per Manzke, "It's flavors that everybody knows." The chef doesn't like to overcomplicate things; it's all about the technique. Manzke said, "When the bechamel gets warm, it gets soft and liquidy, and when the cheese melts, the flavor of the ham comes into that ... When you get down to it, it's a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, that's what it tastes like ... it's all great quality stuff".

As the chef always focuses on presenting his customers with the best ingredients he can get at any moment, some details in the dish may be different if and when you decide to swing by République. For example, the menu now notes that the croquettes are currently (as of December 2023) being made with Gruyére cheese instead of Comté cheese. However, there's no doubt these Adele-beloved hors d'oeuvres will be just as delicious no matter when you eat them.

A unique tomato sauce gave it a delicious twist

One of the innovative twists featured in the croquettes that Adele ate was a tomato sauce, which is available seasonally, as Walter Manzke believes in only using in-season produce. The chef selected sungold tomatoes to create a kind of tomato whipped cream that he served with the croquettes. Since tomato season in 2023 lasted well into the fall, he found the restaurant was able to continue serving this sauce for some time. 

"Now we have to do a different sauce with it," Manzke told us. At the time, the chefs at République were turning the fresh sungolds into a sauce before making a marmalade out of it. Then, the marmalade underwent another interesting preparation. "You put that into a siphon you use to make whipped cream," said Manzke, "and make it kind of like a tomato whipped cream — even if there's no cream in it — and then there's some olive oil and basil in it too."

These gorgeous Mediterranean flavors wonderfully complemented and helped enhance the taste of the croquettes. Perhaps this sauce is what led Adele to exclaim to her fans, "I just had the best ham and cheese croquette that I have ever had."