Born in Landes, France, Hélène Darroze completed a degree in Business studies at the Bordeaux Business School – which has perhaps helped her to flourish as a businessperson, as well as a chef, later on in her career.
She was convinced to don the chef whites by none other than Alain Ducasse while working in the office at his Monaco restaurant, Louis XV. After working for Ducasse for three years, Darroze returned to her family restaurant and retained its Michelin star. It was during this period that Darroze refined her cuisine and reaffirmed her commitment to her heritage. ‘I cook what I am, I am what I cook,’ she once told Caterer Magazine.
She moved on to Paris in 1999 where she opened her first eponymous restaurant, before opening her second in London in 2008 – Hélène Darroze at the Connaught – both of which are highly regarded and Michelin star accredited.
A hub of metropolitan indulgence, Hélène Darroze at the Connaught offers prime gastronomy in a prime location. This is a restaurant with a history of producing exquisite French food, and Hélène Darroze is far from the first French chef to have her name above the doors – Daniel Dunas and Michel Bourdin are both legendary ex-chefs of the hotel.
Yet, Darroze does not restrict her influences to France alone. Inspiration arrives from the Sub-continent and Scotland in a signature dish of Scottish scallops with tandoori spices, and from Catalunya and Thailand in a gazpacho with almonds course.
The setting is undeniably refined, which means attentive waiting staff and burnished furnishings and pristine crockery. Saturday brunch at The Connaught is a great option for those looking for a more relaxed experience. Included on Hélène Darroze’s Americana style menu are freshly made breads, eggs benedict with cod and the famous Connaught Hot Dog, made with Morteau sausage and complemented by caramelised onion and focaccia.
Darroze’s ethos relies on three things: respect for ingredients, great flavours and hard work. The latter is evident by the fact that she splits her time between her Paris and London restaurants. In 2012, Darroze was admitted into the French legion of honour as a mark of her achievements.