Chef Raphael Francois

Chef Raphael Francois

by Great British Chefs 3 February 2012

Raphael Francois has achieved more by his early 30’s than most chefs do in their entire careers, practising his intricate nouveau French cuisine in kitchens across Belgium, France and Britain.

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He is best known in Britain for being the former Head Chef at Helene Darroze at The Connaught and Executive Chef at The Connaught hotel, a spell that coincided with the restaurant receiving 2 Michelin stars.

Raphael recalls a childhood centred on food, amongst a family of devoted foodies.

‘My great grandmother was at the heart of it all, along with my grandparents they would spend their days off cooking from morning till lunch time, which we would then enjoy together all afternoon till early in the evening’.

A rebellious teen, Francois acquired a job in a kitchen as a means of independence at the tender age of 16 where he started working for Claude Lavallee at the Jiverny and discovered a passion for fine cuisine. He studied Hospitality and Catering before starting his professional career with Michel Theurel at La Maison du Bœuf, The Sea Grill (2 Michelin Stars in Brussels), where he learnt classical Belgian/French cuisine with true masters of the style.

Aged 20, Francois moved to Paris and earnt a job working at the Michelin starred Hotel de Crillon as Chef De Partie, working his way up to Sous Chef just 3 years later. He undertook a few more roles in Paris before being asked to become Head Chef at the double starred, Restaurant Hélène Darroze.

In 2008, Francois was offered the chance to move to London, where he was appointed Executive Head Chef at The Connaught Hotel under Hélène Darroze, a role which placed Francois in charge of the prestigious fine-dining restaurant.

His cuisine is inspired by the greats, with thoroughbreds like Pierre Gagnaire, Thomas Keller and Michel Bras all influences. Like those chefs he combines honest and classical French technique with a modernist touch. His food is also inspired by his itinerant career.

‘I’m very much inspired by my environment and the places I live. I am flexible when it comes to adapting to new situations and places, which I feel translates into my cooking’, Francois told