By Katie Friedman
Destination Luxury was lucky enough to catch up with the elegant Hélène Darroze of Hélène Darroze in Paris, France and of Hélène Darroze at the Connaught in London, UK who was recently named the 2015 Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef. She was honored at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, in London on the 1st June this year.
Through this accolade The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, in partnership with Veuve Clicquot, shines a light on a rarefied family of extraordinary female chefs. The Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef award celebrates the work of a woman whose cooking most impresses the world’s toughest critics and most venerated chefs, more than 900 of whom voted in this category.
The award is inspired by the life and achievements of Madame Clicquot who, nearly 200 years ago set the standard for women in business. The winner reflects Madame Clicquot’s attributes of innovation, creativity and determination – all qualities that remain at the heart of Destination Luxury.
How do you instantly give your customers a sense of luxury upon entering your restaurant?
Guests visiting the restaurant will have a love for the finest quality products, but will also implicitly trust our skills and creativity to let the ingredients shine. We have launched a new approach to seasonal cuisine by celebrating the finest quality produce, available from the best producers, who I work with every day to choose the best few ingredients available, before developing these products into a range of dishes. At the heart of the idea is an emphasis on trust and an honest passion for food, which we hope shines through.
What is the most luxurious ingredient you use in your dishes?
I live by the philosophy that the ingredients are the stars and you must treat them respectfully, and this is carefully reflected in both my restaurants in London and in Paris. I am lucky enough to have access to some of the finest ingredients; XXL scallops from the Scottish coast, Noir de Bigorre ham from Gascony and hake from Pays Basque. I couldn’t possible choose one!
If you could have any luxury in the world – what would it be?
To have the house of my dreams in each of the 4 cities that I love the most in the world: Paris, London, New York and Biarritz.
You have chosen to base yourself in two world-leading capitals of luxury – London and Paris – if you could choose to add one more city in the world to your list – where would that be?
It would have to be New York. It is something I’ve dreamed about forever – to open a place in New York.
You are a great inspiration to young chefs in this tough, male-dominated luxury dining industry. What advice would you give to young female chefs, just beginning their careers?
True, there is a very small percentage of women in the culinary world but if you work hard and persevere there is no one to stop a woman Chef from building a successful career in the industry.
There is a time when you reach a crossroad in this industry where as a woman you have to choose between being a wife and a mother and being a chef. The two things are extremely difficult to balance. Most of the very talented young women in my kitchen left because they wanted to pursue motherhood, which is a beautiful thing and I don’t blame them.
My advice: never forget to be a woman, never pretend to be a man… It is such an honour to be named this year’s Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef, especially because I greatly admire all of the previous winners of this prestigious award and I am thrilled to now be in their company. It’s really is something special that Veuve Clicquot and The World’s 50 Best Restaurants have collaborated on an award that acknowledges and celebrates the female talent in the industry.