Chef Name: Hélène Darroze
Awards: Three Michelin Stars.
Five AA Rosettes for Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, 2016.
Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef, 2015.
Top 50 UK Restaurants for Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, Good Food Guide, 2014.
How old were you when you started cooking professionally?
I was 24.
What’s your earliest and fondest first memory of food?
My Mum used to tell me that when I was a child, she was cooking béchamel sauce and I stuck my finger into the pan and licked it. This is clearly my earliest and fondest memory of food.
Which chefs inspire you most and why?
Michel Guérard, as he is a close friend of the family and I grew up knowing him. He always inspired me with his cooking and his anticipation of the latest movements and trends.
Alain Ducasse, as we worked together for so long and have such a friendship. Other inspirations have been Alain Passard and Thomas Keller. Right now, I am inspired by Daniel Humm as I am in awe of what he is doing and his global approach and I admire Massimo Bottura for his Italian influence and passion.
What are your two favourite cookbooks and why?
Les Recettes Originales de Alain Chapel and also La Riviera D’Alain Ducasse by Alain Ducasse as I worked a lot on this book with him.
Which two ingredients could you not live without?
Espelette pepper. This is a pepper from a village in the Basque region and I season everything with it. Also duck fat.
What is your favourite comfort food to cook at home?
If you could eat at any Michelin star restaurant in the world today, where would it be and why?
Mirazur as I know the chef, Mauro Colagreco, but I have not yet tried his cuisine. I have the cookbook, which is amazing.
And who would you take as your guest?
My Head Chefs from Paris and London as it would be inspiring for them to understand his way of cooking and sourcing produce from his garden to create his dishes.
What do you look for in a good chef?
I look for people who understand and embrace my way of cooking. I am not technical and I cook instinctively, so I would also look for those with good technical ability.
What advice would you give to chefs starting their career paths now?
Being technical or experienced is not enough these days. Be yourself with your food. Tell a story and what you have inside you, put yourself on the plate.
Hélène Darroze is Head Chef at Hélène Darroze at the Connaught and owner of Restaurant Hélène Darroze in Paris.
Address: The Connaught, Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, United Kingdom.
Telephone: +44 203 147 7200