Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Hélène Darroze, I am a cuisinière and mother. Most Londoners will know me from my eponymous restaurant, Hélène Darroze at the Connaught, which holds two Michelin stars.
I’m opening a new restaurant, Marsan in Paris. It’s in the same location as my last venture, Restaurant Hélène Darroze, and it opened this week. I’ve completely reinvented the space at 4 Rue d’Assas, and with the food I’ve decided to pay tribute to the Marsan region, where my family is and was, the place where I was born and where it all began.
What’s your earliest food memory?
The boiled eggs my grandmother used to cook. My mother worked in a pharmacy and farmers would bring her eggs that had been laid that morning. My grandmother would cook them simply, boiled and served with soldiers and butter.
What’s your favourite dish?
Roast chicken on a Sunday. Growing up in Les Landes in Southwestern France, we ate it every Sunday night as a family tradition. My grandparents owned a local restaurant so we would always wait till they finished work rather than eat at lunch. All my family would gather together, my grandfather at the top of the table, and my grandmother cooked the chicken, served with French fries cooked in duck fat.
What’s the best thing about the London food scene?
You can find the best Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. There’s diversity but also quality to match.
And the worst thing?
‘Concept restaurants’, places that focus on trends or location or ambience than the food itself.
Tell us about the best meal you ever had
My first meal at Masa, a three Michelin starred Japanese restaurant in New York. It’s between that and my first ever meal at Alain Ducasse’s Le Louis XV in Monaco. In 1990, when I first started working there, my parents came to visit and it was simply amazing.
What’s your favourite food-related anecdote?
When I first had the restaurant, I cooked for Jacques Chirac. I felt a lot of stress and pressure but it was very special.
• Hélène Darroze at the Connaught has a weekday lunch menu, with three courses and two glasses of wine for £60; go to the-connaught.co.uk for more info.