3 Michelin Star Chefs: Hélène Darroze, Hélène Darroze at The Connaught

The  Staff Canteen

Hélène Darroze is the chef patron of three Michelin-starred Hélène Darroze at The Connaught in London's Mayfair.

French chef Hélène currently holds five Michelin Stars: three at The Connaught in Mayfair and two at Marsan by Hélène Darroze in Paris. The chef and her team were also awarded a Michelin Plate for her latest Parisian venture, Jòia, in the 2020 guide.

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught

 

Carlos Pl, Mayfair, London W1K 2AL

Opening hours: Monday - Saturday 12–2pm, 6:30–10pm

Sunday 12–3pm, 6:30–9pm
Website: www.the-connaught.co.uk/mayfair-restaurants/helene-darroze/

Instagram: @helenedarroze

Twitter: @helenedarroze

Facebook: www.facebook.com/helenedarroze21

Phone: 020 3147 7200

Head chef: Marco Zampese

Head sommelier: Mirko Benzo 

Restaurant manager: Damian Sanchez Perez

Biography

Born in the southwestern region of the Landes in 1967, Darroze grew up in a family with a rich food heritage.

The previous three generations had all run the Michelin-starred family restaurant in her home town of Villeneuve-de-Marsan, and Hélène did not buck the trend.

She took a degree in Business studies at Bordeaux Business School and then was hired to work for Alain Ducasse in 1990, in the office of his Monaco restaurant Le Louis XV.

However, Ducasse saw potential in her and hired her to work in the kitchen as well as in the office. She worked her way up the ranks over the course of three years, eventually becoming his right-hand man.

This gave Hélène an unparalleled breadth of experience in how to run a restaurant, from management and marketing to organising menus and recipes.

She then returned to the family restaurant, "Le Relais," which she would later rename "Chez Darroze," and worked there for a number of years, eventually taking over in the kitchen when her father stepped aside.

She maintained the restaurant's Michelin star and kept in close contact with Ducasse, who became like a godfather to her.

Despite winning a number of awards and garnering much critical acclaim, in 1999, the restaurant closed due to financial problems relating to the site's rural location and the difficulty of attracting enough customers.

Restaurant Hélène Darroze

That same year, aged 32, the chef moved to the French capital and launched Restaurant Hélène Darroze. Its success was immediate, and in 2000 it was awarded a Michelin star.

A second star followed in 2003, which was held until 2010. 

In an interview with The Staff Canteen, she said that when the restaurant lost its star, she was most devastated for her team in the French capital feel, who felt "very guilty," as she had left them to oversee a lot of the daily operations while she focused on The Connaught. 

In 2008 Darroze was appointed to replace Angela Hartnett at the Connaught Hotel’s restaurant in London.

The hotel and restaurant underwent significant refurbishment and was opened with her name in the title. Although it received some severe criticism early on, this didn’t hold back the Michelin judges - 2009 saw its first star and the second was bestowed two years later, with both being retained since.

Another refurbishment followed in 2019 with a complete redesign by famous artist Pierre Yovanovitch. The restaurant was relaunched in 2020 with a brand new design and chef's table with its own private kitchen.

What the guides say...

Michelin

AA Restaurant Guide

five rosettes

Harden's

The Good Food Guide

5/10 score, meaning "Exact cooking techniques, balance and depth of flavour, and "a degree of ambition"

Hélène splits her time between her three restaurants, the third, Marsan by Hélène Darroze, which launched in 2020.

The chef crosses the channel on a weekly basis to make sure operations across all three restaurants are running smoothly.

Darroze also indirectly starred in the hit Disney movie Ratatouille, with the film company basing the character of chef Colette on her. She insists that the recipe for success is based on respect, for colleagues and customers alike. Hélène refuses to let her brigades call her chef, and asks them to call her by name.

Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef 2015

As well as being named the Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef in 2015, Darroze was named a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour by President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012. She was also a judge on France’s Top Chef 2015.

Through this accolade The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, in partnership with Veuve Clicquot, shines a light on a rarefied family of extraordinary female chefs. The Veuve Clicquot World's Best Female Chef award celebrates the work of a woman whose cooking most impresses the world’s toughest critics and most venerated chefs, more than 900 of whom voted in this category.

Awards:

Three Michelin Stars at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught in London, one Michelin Star at Marsan by Hélène Darroze and a Michelin Plate at Jòia in Paris.

Champérard guide Young Chef of the Year 1995 and Chef of the Year for the Southwest Region 1996

Videos of Hélène Darroze:

 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st February 2021

3 Michelin Star Chefs: Hélène Darroze, Hélène Darroze at The Connaught