Sunday, 2 March 2014

FFG Eats: Hélène Darroze’s two Michelin-starred restaurant at The Connaught


I can remember first moving to London and hearing people all around warn me about the food. There wasn't really a vibe happening here as of yet. People were convinced that the best you could do for culinary treats would be fish and chips. Oh how that has all changed in the past decade. London has become THE place for food. There are countless Michelin star restaurants in London and each and every one has become a pilgrimage for foodies over the years. The options in this town are endless and, now, often overwhelming. 

As there is so much on offer, I try to get around to as much as I can so I can bring you guys some great recommendations for places to go and food to try. When the invitation came in to sample a new menu at Hélène Darroze’s two Michelin Star restaurant at The Connaught, I thought, "well, I had better say yes... if just to keep my readers in the know." Who are we kidding here? I couldn't reply fast enough to say I would attend. This chef has a reputation that definitely proceeds her. 

Just a bit of background here. Hélène comes from a family of Chefs in France. Her career is one that will surely demand a book within the next decade and rumor has it that she was actually the inspiration for Colette in the Disney movie Ratatouille. What's not to love about that? While she may be the inspiration for a child's movie, her creations in the kitchen are anything but child's play. 

For lunch last week, we were invited to a very special sort of dining experience. Hélène Darroze admits to being obsessed with her produce, as every great chef should be. However, her obsession has become a lifelong quest to bring together only the best in producers from local regions. To honour her producers, Hélène Darroze brought them all together for a beautiful lunch to be shared with a room full of London's finest food critics, luxury writers and general movers and shakers. Still scratching my head here as to where I fit in there.

I was lucky enough to be seated next to the man responsible for Hélène Darroze's scallops. Admittedly, I have never thought much about where scallops come from, until now. Davy, as the gentleman was called, informed me that he dives for scallops three times a day. When he's not filling Hélène Darroze's kitchen with the delicacy, he's diving for scallops for Her Majesty the Queen. He's been at it since he was fourteen and apparently he's one of the best. When the scallop course arrived, I had a new found respect for what I was about to bite into. 

Of course the meal didn't start and stop with scallops. In fact, the dishes just kept coming and with each new arrival, our table was introduced to a new producer. It was thrilling to meet each and every person involved in this phenomenal production and have them talk us through their contribution to the kitchen. 

Now, how does this all apply to you? Well, first of all, this was not a one off experience for journalists only. Hélène Darroze's restaurant in The Connaught is open to the general public with wide open doors. Each day of the year Hélène picks her ingredients, based on what she believes to the best of the best and she creates a menu that works to highlight the beauty of the produce. Guests are then asked to pick ingredients they wish to try and they trust that Hélène Darroze will not let them down with her creations. The result is a surprising culinary experience that is not to be missed! 

Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL 
+44 (0)20 7499 7070

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