Hélène is from a family of chefs; her cooking is instinctive, passionate and inspired by the flavours and seasons of South West France.
Born in Landes, France, Hélène completed a degree in Business studies at the Bordeaux Business School – which has perhaps helped her to flourish as a businesswoman, 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 Hélène 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 at the Connaught – both of which are highly regarded and Michelin star accredited.
Though her cuisine is undoubtedly rooted in the traditions of South West French cuisine it is thoroughly modern too. There are eclectic touches to temper the classicism; a breast of grouse is served up with Landes foie gras, Sicilian pistachios and Mexican mollé at the Connaught. There are also Mediterranean influences; traceable from her time spent under Ducasse, and Catalunyan flavours owing to her hometown’s proximity to the region.
Hélène’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 Paris and London, with Michelin starred restaurants in both cities.
In 2012, Hélène was admitted into the French legion of honour as a mark of her achievements.