Inspirational fourth-generation chef who cooks ingredient-led food with French soul
Born into a family of chefs, Hélène Darroze made her first apple pie at the age of six and was cooking lemon tart for her parents’ dinner party guests by the age of 12. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that she has gone on to open two highly acclaimed restaurants in two different countries. Even with three years of training under Alain Ducasse, Darroze credits her own grandfather with providing the spirit, philosophy and style of cooking that have seen her win multiple accolades.
Hailing from Villeneuve-de-Marsan in south-west France, Darroze received the keys to her father’s kitchen, Chez Darroze, in 1995 and spent the next four years refining her culinary style. At 32, she opened her eponymous restaurant on the Left Bank in Paris and in 2008 she caught the attention of one of London’s landmark hotels, leading to the opening of Hélène Darroze at the Connaught.
For seven years she has divided her time between the two cities, honing her menus and developing teams she can trust. The process of creating new dishes and writing the menus is the only thing Darroze won’t delegate – she finds inspiration in everything from her overseas travels to her daughters, Charlotte, 8, and Quiterie, 6.
Darroze’s cooking is French at heart but over recent years she has also embraced British produce, introducing Cornish crab and Northern Irish lobster to her menus in Paris. She prides herself on ensuring her dishes are ingredient-led – cooked relatively simply while respecting the seasons. In London, dishes include poached lobster in seaweed butter with white asparagus and bottarga breadcrumbs; in Paris, foie gras from her home region of Landes is served with cocoa, calamansi fruit and gingerbread.
Darroze is so well-known in the restaurant world that she inspired the character of Colette in the 2007 film Ratatouille. Although the character’s aggressive kitchen style is far from a reflection of Darroze, the big heart she reveals towards the end of the movie is more fitting – and goes some way to explaining why the chef is loved and admired by many across the industry.
4, Rue d’Assas
+33 1 42 22 00 11
Hélène Darroze at the Connaught
Carlos Place, Mayfair
London W1K 2AL
+44 20 7499 7070