Hélène Darroze, Hélène Darroze at The Connaught

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th July 2017

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Coming from four generations of chefs, it’s safe to say that cooking is in Hélène Darroze’s blood. The French native currently has three Michelin stars to her name and three restaurants, Hélène Darroze at the Connaught in London and Restaurant Hélène Darroze in Paris and Moscow.

Despite her worldwide recognition and numerous accolades, the French-born chef originally set her sights on the business world before donning an apron and following in her family’s footsteps and stepping into the kitchen. After completing a degree from l’Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Bordeaux, Hélène began working for Alain Ducasse at the Le Louis XV restaurant in Monaco. This was the first kitchen she had entered aside from her family’s and through Alain’s guidance and leadership it would go on to spark her interest in pursuing a serious career in the gastronomy.

Helene Darroze at The Connaught

Helene Darroze at

The Connaught 

After three years under Alain’s tutelage, Hélène returned to her family’s kitchen where she helped maintain their existing Michelin star. However, due to financial difficulties the restaurant was forced to close in 1999. Not long after she opened her eponymous restaurant on the Left Bank to critical acclaim which went on to achieve its first Michelin star in 2001 swiftly followed by a second in 2003.

In 2008 Hélène’s refined take on French cuisine caught the attention of The Connaught which led to the French chef replacing former Gordon Ramsay protégée, Angela Hartnett and opening the Hélène Darroze at the Connaught.

“When I arrived in England nobody knew me, ” says Hélène. “I had to build a reputation and I like to prove that, firstly what I was able to do.”

Despite initial criticism from critic, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2009 for its modern take on French cuisine. A coveted second star followed two years later in 2011.

Each day, Hélène selects the very best and freshest ingredients from the network of suppliers she has spent a lifetime gathering and cooks them with precision, honesty and passion. The resulting menu celebrates the tastes and textures of the most stunning individual produce, prepared in a way that allows each ingredient to shine.

“My way of cooking is trying to find the best in the product in this country but I brought a lot from France, and especially the south-west of France.”

With the tenth Anniversary of Hélène’s residency at the Connaught fast approaching, Mayfair’s two Michelin starred restaurant is still going strong. Something Hélène puts down to having an incredibly large team behind her that help support the kitchen operation on a daily basis.

Hélène said: “At the moment I have 29 chefs in the team, including pastry.”

She continued: “We open seven days a week, every day of the year. We have to have 12 in the kitchen every day and about three or four for pastry. For front of house we have about 35 – 40 people so it’s a massive team.”

Helene Darroze at The Connaught
Helene Darroze at The Connaught 

Hélène currently splits her time travelling between Hélène Darroze at the Connaught in London and her namesake restaurant in Paris with her two children, Charlotte and Quiterie.

“I generally start the beginning of the week in London and I finish the week in Paris.”

She added: “I won’t be able to do what I do at the moment if I didn’t have these two amazing teams.”

Throughout her career, Hélène has achieved a wealth of accolades for recognising her extraordinary talents. Michelin stars aside, Hélène was admitted into the French Legion of Honour as a Chevalier by President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012 and was even the inspiration behind the character, Chef Colette, in the 2007 Pixar Animation Studios’ hit Ratatouille.

In 2015 Hélène was also named Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef joining a long list of extraordinary alumni including Elena Arzak of Spain’s Arzak, Anne-Sophie Pic of Maison Pic in France, Nadia Santini of Dal Pescatore in the Italian countryside, Helena Rizzo of Brazilian restaurant Mani, last year’s winner Dominique Creen of Atelier Crenn, in San Francisco and more recently Ana Roš of Hiša Franko in Slovenia.

Looking ahead Hélène has no intention of leaving the Connaught and will strive to produce the same contemporary French dishes she has brought to the Mayfair restaurant for the foreseeable future.

“This place, this location is part of me and I see myself still at the Connaught in the next five years. I am now thinking where will I be after 10 years because you have to put yourself in question, if you don’t you’ll never move.”

By Michael Parker

@canteenparker

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th July 2017

Hélène Darroze, Hélène Darroze at The Connaught

IN ASSOCIATION WITH