Hélène Darroze. Photo: Courtesy of Hélène Darroze

Hélène Darroze of Hélène Darroze in Paris, France and of Hélène Darroze at the Connaught in London, UK has been named the 2015 Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef. She will be honoured at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, in London on the 1st June.

French-born Hélène Darroze is a fourth generation chef who, after completing a degree from l’Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Bordeaux, joined Alain Ducasse’s team at the prestigious Louis XV restaurant in Monaco.

After three years under his tutelage both in business and in the kitchen, she returned home to the family restaurant, Chez Darroze, in Villeneuve-de-Marsan in the Landes region. There, in 1995, Darroze’s father gave her the keys to the kitchen, where she spent the next four years refining her culinary style and honing her skills.

At the age of 32, Darroze closed the family restaurant and set her sights on Paris, opening her eponymous restaurant on the Left Bank to critical acclaim and widespread commendation. Darroze’s talent and heartfelt contemporary French cuisine caught the attention of the Connaught, leading to the opening of Hélène Darroze at the Connaught in 2008.

Seven years on, Darroze remains head chef at Hélène Darroze at the Connaught and her namesake restaurant in Paris. She travels regularly between Paris and London with her two children, Charlotte and Quiterie, overseeing all aspects of her businesses.

An integral and common thread in Darroze’s restaurants is not just her impeccable gastronomic expertise but the seasonal, authentic ingredients that take precedence in her contemporary French recipes. Darroze has spent a lifetime gathering her network of loyal suppliers, allowing her the freedom to create stunning seasonal dishes using the freshest, highest-quality produce the market has to offer. One of Darroze’s signature dishes – squid ink risotto with sautéed squid and chorizo, confit tomatoes and parmesan foam – exemplifies her cooking: it is simultaneously complex and modest, but also impeccably balanced.

Hélène Darroze. Photo: Courtesy of Hélène Darroze

Hélène Darroze. Photo: Courtesy of Hélène Darroze

As well as being named the Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef 2015, Darroze’s other accolades include admittance into the French Legion of Honour as a Chevalier by President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012. Darroze’s likeable and even-handed personality inspired the character, Chef Colette, in the 2007 Pixar Animation Studios’ hit Ratatouille. She is also a judge on France’s Top Chef 2015.

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.

William Drew, Group Editor of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said, “Celebrating the success of remarkable female chefs, in what remains a very male-orientated world, is of enormous importance. In conjunction with Veuve Clicquot, we are proud and excited to present the award to Hélène Darroze. Hélène’s impressive accomplishments, passion for exceptional produce and dedication to the profession makes her the perfect recipent of this year’s Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef. She is an inspiration to future generations of women who want to enter the profession, proving that skill, hard work and passion will be rewarded and celebrated.”

The Veuve Clicquot Champagne house has long been known for empowering innovative and audacious women. It began with Madame Clicquot, who came to the helm of the business in 1805, creating the successful global brand of today which extends to the 41-year-old annual Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award.

Commenting on Darroze’s victory, Veuve Clicquot President, Jean-Marc Gallot, said, “We are thrilled to present Hélène Darroze with the Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef Award. Her work and tireless passion, spanning Paris and London, truly embodies the spirit of the award and we look forward to watching her continued excellence in years to come. We are delighted to celebrate exceptional female chefs and women in business that embody the same drive and resolve as Madame Clicquot herself. Celebrating the accomplishments of women like Hélène through the award and other initiatives like the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award is of great importance to the House. Not only does this award celebrate extraordinary women in the industry but it also encapsulates the harmonious pairing of excellence in food and the exceptional art of wine making.”

Darroze responded to the news of her win by saying: “As much as the Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef is an accolade for me, it is also an accolade for my team at the Connaught in London and Hélène Darroze in Paris. I am honoured to win the award because there are talented female chefs all over the world and I imagine choosing only one is challenging. I think it is important to celebrate women and their achievements. My hope is that the recipients of this award inspire young women, including my daughters, to follow their passion and work hard to hone their skill regardless of profession. I greatly admire all of the previous winners of this prestigious award and I am thrilled to now be in their company.”

As a winner of the Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef award, Hélène Darroze joins a group of exceptionally talented chefs including luminaries, Elena Arzak of Spain’s Arzak, Anne-Sophie Pic of Maison Pic in France, Nadia Santini of Dal Pescatore in the Italian countryside and last year’s winner, Helena Rizzo of Brazilian restaurant Mani.


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