The Weekender Interview: Hélène Darroze

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Weekender Interview: Hélène Darroze

Related tags: Alain ducasse

The Channel-hopping French chef on her love of armagnac and Staub cocottes and her hatred of espuma and Marmite

What image do you currently have on your phone’s wallpaper?
My daughters

What was your first job?
A dish washer at my families restaurant Villeneuve-de-Marsan, south west France

Gordon or Marco? 
I don’t really know them well enough to choose, but I’m sure I could have learned a lot from both if I had the opportunity to work alongside them

What was the last film you saw in the cinema? 
Indochine – an old film about Vietnam

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
A Krispy Crème doughnut

Where are you going on your next holiday?
New York City

What industry figure do you most admire (and why)?
At the moment Daniel Humm and Will Guidera – I love their genius and their philosophy. But I can also speak about Michel Guérard, Michel Bras, Alain Ducasse, Thomas Keller, Juan Mari Arzak

If you weren’t in restaurants, what would you do? 
I love writing

Biggest regret?
Not to have learned with more chefs

Pet hate?

Oddest thing a customer has said to you?
To be honest I only remember the positive comments

Marmite: love it or hate it?
Not a big fan

Describe your cooking style in three words
Authenticity, generosity, respect

What country do you next want to visit?
Definitely South America, maybe Mexico or Peru

Most overrated food?
I hate espuma

Restaurant czar for a day – what would you implement?
I dream about launching a ‘Sausage Bar’

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
It was a long time ago in France. The critic was very personal and hurt me a lot. From this date, I have decided not to read the critics anymore

What made you want to become a chef?
It has always been my passion, I’ve been part of this world since childhood. I am the 4th generation of my family to cook

What do you cook at home on your days off?
Dishes that can be put in the middle of the table shared by the whole family

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Always follow your intuition

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Staub cocotte

iPhone or Android?

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
As I worked with him in his office, Alain Ducasse told me to follow my passion and to become a chef

What’s your earliest memory? 
Big family dinners on Sunday evenings (we used to have Sunday dinner, not lunch as the family was open for lunch)

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
If I want to relax and forget everything I go to Les Prés d’Eugenie, the amazing hotel near Bordeaux by chef Michel Guerard

Twitter or Instagram?

Tipple of choice?
Armagnac of course

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Roasted chicken and freshly made French fries



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