Cocoa Cuisine at the Roast + Conch, Leeds.

There aren’t many people who don’t like chocolate in one way or another. As a hot drink in your local Starbucks as you bash away at the keyboard, as a traditional bar when you sit down to binge watch the latest series on Netflix or perhaps you like yours dark with a slightly higher cocoa percentage alongside your favourite single malt. Yes father, I’m looking at you.

Up until a few years ago cocoa and the cocoa bean (as opposed to chocolate) was rarely used in main meals. That was until luxury chocolate producer Hotel Chocolat opened their two UK restaurants: Rabot 1745 in London’s Borough Market and the Roast + Conch in Leeds.

Roughly marking the midway point of our journey home after a few days away and only being a minor detour made the Roast + Conch ideally suited for a break from driving and a bite to eat. Given it would be a Friday in a large city such as Leeds and planning on arriving just as the restaurant re-opened for dinner at 5pm I thought it would be sensible to book in advance. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have bothered.  Walking through the door a few minutes early we strolled through the bar area and upstairs to a completely empty restaurant except for the staff. It would remain this way for the duration of our meal – approximately 90 minutes.

Having placed our order, the waitress returned a few minutes later with some complimentary sourdough bread and a selection of spreads. The bread was a touch dry, crying out for some butter. This proved to be a hard task as the cocoa nib butter that came alongside was a solid block and barely spreadable. The intense flavour of the Cocoa Balsamic proved overpowering and it would take the subtler flavours of the cocoa-nib pesto to rescue the bread.

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For my other half/co-pilot the starter consisted of a light and airy Yorkshire pudding filled with slices of evenly rare spiced beef perched on a bed of silky smooth white chocolate mash. Not as sweet as you might perhaps think, the white chocolate adds just the right amount of sweetness, making the mash different to most others without taking anything away from the taste of the potatoes. For myself Crispy Pressed Lamb Bonbons. Apart from my partner, who knew something so small could have such a huge impact! The salty taste of the capers, acidity from the cornichons and the peppery notes of the radish all helped to bring balance to the moreish flavour of the lamb. For me personally only serving two of these little nuggets of joy just wasn’t enough!

A main of seared sea bass with a cocoa and sesame crust, a smoked aubergine puree, sweet potato, crushed lime and chilli was superb. Crisp skin, on top and perfectly cooked fish underneath was an absolute dream. The chilli added a manageable heat whilst lime added a refreshing zing after the slight sweetness of the crust and potato. My partner opted for the 9-hour cocoa beer braised lamb that fell apart as the knife glided through the meat. Sat on a rich and creamy celeriac puree and joined by an equally rich red wine jus, we ordered a side of seasonal greens and cocoa oil to help take the edge of.

A second side came in the form of some beautifully cooked chips and cocoa ketchup. Crisp outside and fluffy inside in the chip stakes, probably only second to those of The Hand and Flowers.

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Given Hotel Chocolat at its core is a luxury chocolate producer, you’d think that if there was one course they would absolutely nail, it would be dessert. Unfortunately, on this occasion, for me at least this wasn’t the case. It’s no secret I have a sweet tooth. As much as I’d love to be an adult and go for the cheeseboard in a swanky starred restaurant, or a fruit crumble in the local pub, if there’s a chocolate alternative there’s something inside me that will just not allow me to choose anything else. It goes without saying then that the Molten Chocolate ‘Lava’ Pudding was a dead cert from the word go. Upon ordering I was told there would be a short wait due to it being cooked from scratch. Not a problem at all. A chocolate pudding that had gooey chocolate inside accompanied by a cocoa nib ice cream? Take all the time you need.

About fifteen minutes had passed when desserts arrived and boy did they look the part. Unable to contain my excitement any more I dived in, cutting straight through the middle of the soufflé to reveal…nothing. No sign of the molten lava anywhere. After the two previous courses being so delightful it was disappointing to put it mildly. Possible a few minutes too long in the oven had led to the ‘lava’ inside being cooked and becoming part of the soufflé. A shame, especially after the extra wait and the lack of customers but having had this dessert on a previous occasion I know just how good this dessert can be when it’s done well.

I’ll hold my hands up, as I alluded to in the previous paragraph I have now been to both Hotel Chocolats’ restaurants. Would I go back to either again? Probably not. Not because the cooking in either is bad – because it’s not, but because after the first time the novelty has worn off. Would I however, recommend it to other people as an alternative dining experience to what they would probably be used to? Absolutely.

7/10

Restaurant Martin Wishart, Edinburgh.

I’m just going to come out and say it. Dinner at Restaurant Martin Wishart was the best meal both me and my partner have ever had.

The restaurant, named after its Chef Owner, is the flagship of Edinburgh born Martin Wishart and is located in the district of Leith, a few miles to the north of Edinburgh. Since opening in 1999 it’s built up a collection of accolades that include a Michelin Star awarded in 2001 and retained ever since, No.5 in The Sunday Times Best UK Restaurants list of 2015 and four AA Rosettes kept since first awarded in 2005 as well as a list of others as long as your arm.

Just in case the accolades don’t say it loud enough, from the second you step across the doorway it becomes instantly clear that quality is something that is really cared about. The dining room was a thing of beauty. Crisp white linen adorned immaculately dressed tables with quality glassware and cutlery. Every detail screamed quality at the top of its voice, giving the whole room an air of sophistication that perfectly matched the food that was to come.

The Amuse Bouche was a symphony of colours, textures and tastes. A Beetroot Macaroon with Horseradish cream attracted the attention of my partner due to its pink colour and mine because of its airy, crisp texture, with the Horseradish cream bringing the faintest touch of warmth. A Tomato gazpacho and Green Pepper Mousse was light and refreshing and brought even more colour to the party, with both Tomato and Pepper making their presence equally known. Canneloni with Aubergine, Couscous and tomato powder, a Squid Ink cracker with gravlax salmon and avocado mousse and finally Mackerel with white radish, ginger and a citrus broth made up the rest of the first course.

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The meal was kicked up a gear with the arrival of the Rose Veal Tartare. The Tartare accompanied by the buttery nature of the Foie Gras, wild mushrooms and sweetness coming from the Coteaux du Layon sauce made for a course of pure extravagance.

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Orkney Scallops with Vadouvan Spice was the second course of the six. The sweet and delicate flavour of two precisely cooked Scallops met with a subtle blend of aromats coming from the spices, while spears of white asparagus added their mild earthy note.

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Perhaps a further nod to Wisharts’ classic French training, the half way point was marked by the most French of ingredients: Snails. Encased within accurately cooked pasta, the snails were joined by its classic accompaniment in the form of a wonderfully subtle Garlic Veloute surrounding the entire dish, with baby leeks and mussels adding their own individual flavours. Possibly due to her new-found love of Escargot after a recent trip to Paris, on the journey home my partner declared that this was her favourite dish of the entire meal, despite her sweet tooth and enjoyment of the two desserts that would follow not long later.

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A roasted breast of Goosnargh Duck was the last of the savoury dishes. Certainly, the prettiest of the mains, especially so after the Burmese Pepper sauce was poured around the main components table side eventually forming a perfect circle. The slice of duck breast had a wonderful crisp skin, with the meat underneath being an even shade of pink throughout. With Spelt’s’ slightly nutty flavour, a spear of Asparagus adding it’s earthy undertone and Beets bringing sweetness, this was the course of the evening for me.

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The first of two desserts would be exactly what was needed after four previous courses of pure indulgence. Delicate cubes of Pineapple lightly sprinkled with Tajin were placed around a Hay Parfait and Lemon Grass Curd with Shortbread adding crunch. A light and refreshing first dessert before we moved onto the finale.

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A Valrhona Guanaja Chocolate Mousse with Coconut Sorbet and Passion Fruit was the final dish of the evening. Just as beautifully presented as the previous dishes, the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate mousse offset by the sorbet and the tartness of the Passion Fruit. The perfect way to end a superb meal.

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Over the two hours and six courses we were in the restaurant we experienced nothing but perfection. The total bill, coming in at £250 included two six-course meals, both pre-and post-meal drinks as well as a decent bottle of Wine, was, in my opinion worth every single penny. Masterful cooking that produced an absolutely faultless meal combined with a level of service that was both professional and approachable made for an experience that I’m unlikely to forget for many years to come.

10/10

ASK Italian via Deliveroo

Having spent the day helping the better half pack up her university life for the third and final time, day became night which meant it was time for dinner. As everything had been packed away cooking wasn’t a viable option and due to my somewhat idle character, nor was getting out of bed. As a result, I did what I often do in these situations, grabbed my phone and turned to Deliveroo for help. Unfortunately, for all its charm, Winchester isn’t exactly loaded with options when it comes to food delivery. Italian however is something that Winchester does do, so after a skim through the options we eventually decided on ASK Italian. As Italian chain restaurants go, ASK isn’t bad. That’s not to say it’s the pinnacle of Italian cooking but there are definitely worse options.

Before I go any further I’d like to say that what is to come is in no way a reflection on Deliveroo. I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with them every time I’ve been too lazy to get off my arse.

Last night’s dinner was the biggest waste of £35 I’ve experienced in a long time. Less than 40minutes from our order being accepted to it arriving at the door isn’t bad going at all. Unfortunately, that’s as good as it gets.

A Garlic Pizza bread was dry and cardboard like in both taste and feel with what I consider the key ingredient not making itself known.

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A second starter of chunky Potato Croquettes filled with Mozerella, Broad Beans and Peas was better. The crispy outer giving way to a freshness delivered by the beans and peas all brought together with the merest hints of spice, coming from the spicy Tomato salsa.

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Things weren’t really going well and then as I opened the boxes containing the Fettuccine Bolognese and Risotto Con Pollo E Funghi, my fears that had developed when I took delivery of dinner were realised.

 

I appreciate there are challenges involved when it comes to packaging food for delivery but this is not the answer. A plastic container like those you get from any Indian takeaway would have been a far better option than what we received. It just makes the food look unappealing and makes me question just how much thought has gone into the packaging.

A Bolognese that supposedly featured a ‘hearty Beef and Pork Ragu’ served with Fettuccine Pasta left me wondering if the Deliveroo rider had got peckish on the way over. What there was of the Ragu lacked any noticeable traits of any Bolognese I’ve ever had, even the pasta was overcooked and only a few seconds away from disaster.

The Risotto wasn’t much better. Rice that wasn’t quite as badly cooked as the Pasta in the previous dish completely lacked seasoning accompanied by overcooked chicken and an array of Mushrooms that actually allowed the Risotto to come out just on top of the Bolognese.

So, there we go. As meals go, it’s one I’d like to erase from memory. I’m not saying I won’t visit ASK ever again – I’ve had some okay-good meals there. In future though, I’ll just use this experience as motivation to haul myself from my pit, get dressed and spend a little more time in their restaurant waiting for my food with a glass of red, it’ll be worth it.

3/10

 

New York, New York.

It’s been a busy but very enjoyable few weeks. Trips to New York and Scotland one after the other before diving straight back into work haven’t allowed me much time to get words onto screen.

The fact that New York has 77 restaurants with at least a single Michelin Star should demonstrate just how well the city is doing when it comes to food.  Should you need any more convincing of just how well not just the city, but the entire country is doing, back in April one of their restaurants was named the best in the world at the Worlds 50 Best Restaurant Awards. The restaurant in question is Eleven Madison Park, a short walk from the hustle and bustle of Times Square. Before I’d even finished dotting the ‘I’s’ and crossing the ‘T’s’ in the Travel Agents I had decided I was going and not a single person or event was going to stop me. Except of course a closure for refurbishment. That would do the trick.

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Not to worry though, I wasn’t going to let this minor hiccup beat me. Que Twitter. There isn’t much you can’t do on Twitter. Stalk your favourite celebs? Easy. The very latest news? Twitter knows about it before it’s on lunch time TV. Ask for recommendations on places to eat whilst in The Big Apple? Best place to do it. Did I get a response? I did. Several in fact. The best bit being that I managed to get to all but two of the suggestions.

For our first real taste of the US of A, we headed down 5th Avenue to Eisenberg’s. One of very few proper old school sandwich shops left in the city, there was only ever going to be two sandwiches in the running. For me, it had to be a Hot Pastrami Sandwich. The pastrami was delightful and not in short supply. Succulent, juicy, tender pieces of meat with a strong smoky flavour were housed between two pieces of dry bread. I bit through the beautiful Pastrami straight onto bread that instantly robbed my mouth of any moisture. Up until this point, the sandwich was maybe a notch above good. In all the excitement, I dived straight in forgetting about the side of Gherkins that came with the sandwich. Mind you, so did the waiter, bringing them to the table along with an apology mid-way through. This made it a sandwich quite literally of two halves. The palate refreshing nature of the Gherkins was exactly what I was looking for and made all the difference to my mid-morning snack. My partner opted for what I consider to be the only other REAL option and an American staple. The Grilled Cheese. A Lime-Rickey was the drink of choice to wash all of this down. My initial thoughts were twofold: One, just how moreish it was and two, how it tasted like a bag of Haribo had been emptied into a blender, blitzed, added to some fizz and served, which by the way, is no bad thing.

The next suggestion would emerge as one of my personal food highlights of our week-long trip. Founded by New York restauranteur Danny Mayer, Shake Shack is a hamburger and milkshake chain that started life in 2004. Originally operating out of a Food Cart in Madison Square Park just yards from Mayer’s formerly owned Eleven Madison Park and with popularity on the rise a permanent kiosk was built, where it still stands today. They’ve since expanded to a total of 134 locations, including three in London. A Double SmokeShack was the order of the day, a burger made up of two freshly ground 4oz 100% angus beef patties, cheese, smoked Niman Ranch bacon, chopped cherry peppers and shack sauce. All of this sandwiched in what has to be the best burger bun I’ve ever eaten. Carrying a distinctive buttery note, the potato bun used was actually designed to prevent burger slippage. I loved it so much that I may or may not have returned to have another before our departure back to the U.K. Once again, going for two patties rather than one and slightly more traditional in its build, my partner opted for the name sake ‘Shackburger’. Still a cheeseburger at its core, only this time accompanied by lettuce, tomato and shack sauce. With both burgers, chips to share, a large handmade lemonade and a shake coming in at a few cents over $33 this is the very definition of value for money. Should you ever get to New York, take a detour to the guys at ShakeShack. You won’t regret it.

A second suggestion was to get Pizza in Little Italy. Something I’d admittedly not even considered. The place recommended to us was Lombardi’s, America’s very first Pizzeria. Our instructions were to get there before opening time. At first, I thought this was odd to say the least. I mean, who wants Pizza at 11:30am? Apparently, as I discovered, quite a lot of people. Heeding the advice given, we rocked up about 20minutes early, to find a que already formed. Doors swung open and within a few minutes the restaurant was full. Having eyes bigger than our stomachs we ordered a large pepperoni and not long later a 16” pizza arrived at our table. I’m used to ordering large pizza’s, back home it’s not a problem. Let me tell you right here and now ladies and gents, 2” makes all the difference. At least, that’s what I’m told. Evidence of the coal oven used to cook these New York style pizzas are ever present on your fingertips as you pick up each slice. The pizza is fantastic, like, as it would turn out, a lot of food I ate in New York. If I had to criticise, the paper plates we were presented with wasn’t in-keeping with the rest of the vintage décor and quite frankly, made me feel like a child.

Less than a 5minute walk from the craziness that is Times Square lies ‘Broadway Bites’. A seasonal street food market popping up during the Summer and Fall. Take a walk through the market to discover a diverse range of offerings from local chefs and producers. Over our time in New York, we managed to work our way around the majority of the stalls, here being some of our most memorable. Hank’s Juicy Beef was our first stop, ordering a junior version of the signature sandwich. Slow roasted Italian style beef accompanied by marinated peppers was spooned into a buttered French roll. Hank’s beef really is juicy. Packed full of flavour, this was a wonderful late evening snack.

Next up came a S’More Taco from Squish Marshmallows. A milk chocolate Taco houses your choice of 3 marshmallow flavours which you can mix and match as you please. My partner being the one with the sweet tooth ordered 2 Birthday party marshmallows and 1 S’Mores. For even the sweetest tooth this was a touch on the sweet side.

On our penultimate day we went back, this time heading for Don Don NY and a Chicken Katsu Curry. Sticky white rice formed the foundation of the dish with breaded chicken, shredded white cabbage and a curry sauce making up the remainder. Rather filling this would turn out to be our last meal in New York.

Thriving more than ever, I’m pleased to report that New York is no longer a city living off McDonald’s, Wendy’s and $1 a slice Pizza, (although you can still get all of the above if you wish). The food scene is just as diverse as the people who live there, making it probably one of the best weeks of food we’ve had.

 

Eisenberg’s: 7/10

Shake Shack: 10/10

Lombardi’s: 8/10

Who is…Tom Kerridge?

Born in 1973 in the West Country Tom Kerridge started out as a child actor with several small parts in a variety of different shows. He went on to attend a culinary school at the age of 18 before moving around Gloucestershire and a series of restaurants and country house hotels. During his early 20s he left Gloucestershire and moved to London to work for chefs including Gary Rhodes, Steven Bull and Phillip Britton. After a number of years he moved to Norwich to take up the position of head chef at Michelin starred Adlards.

Beth Kerridge is an English sculptor born in 1970. Six weeks after meeting Tom she proposed to him, a question that would have an answer before the end of the sentence. In 2005, she moved from Norfolk to Marlow to open The Hand & Flowers, something they were able to do using the money from a commission Beth had received.

The original plan was to create a space that reflected somewhere both Tom and Beth would like to go during their days off. Just a year after opening, the pub got its first Michelin Star. Six years later, it became the first pub to be awarded a prestigious second star. You can read about my visit to The Hand and Flowers by clicking on the following link:

https://thehampshirefoodie.com/2017/03/28/the-hand-and-flowers-marlow/

With The Hand and Flowers ever growing popularity and bookings being taken three months in advance, it was no longer easy for the locals to nip in for a quick pint. Cue the opening of The Coach. Situated at the other end of the street to The Hand and Flowers, The Coach has an informal, relaxed atmosphere and unlike its sister pub has a strict first come first served policy with no bookings being taken. In 2016 it was the Top 50 Gastropubs Awards highest new entry coming in at number four. The quality of the food rivals that of some of the best restaurants, this being backed up by a Bib Gormand being awarded in the 2017 Michelin Guide.

Over his career, Tom has made appearances on various programmes including Saturday Kitchen and The Great British Menu where, in 2010, his slow cooked Aylesbury duck with duck fat chips and gravy was one of the four winning finalists. He has also hosted his own cooking shows such as Spring Kitchen and Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food.

Just before Christmas 2016 Tom and Beth were overjoyed with the arrival of their first child Acey, a name that is Anglo Saxon for number one.

Over the past three years Tom has lost 11 stone through using a dopamine diet. He has since released a book that reveals his personal experiences and also his go-to recipes to aid his weight loss. As part of his diet Tom went teetotal to help him reach his ultimate goal.

I openly admit that I’m a huge fan of Tom Kerridge. The Hand and Flowers is exactly the kind of place I’d love to eat every single day and thankfully, despite his recent (and rather dramatic) lifestyle change, the food he serves up, remains just like the Tom of old – big, bold and in all honesty, bloody brilliant.

The Boot Inn, Shipton Bellinger.

Not for the first time in recent weeks we found ourselves eating at a different location to the one originally intended. After initially making our way to a recently re-opened pub we were told there would be a 45 minute wait for food, this wasn’t a major issue so we settled down with a pint of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord and a glass of Rosé. After the 45 minutes had expired we were told that we had at least another 20 minutes to wait so we made the decision to jump into the car and head over to the Boot Inn in the nearby village of Shipton Bellinger.

As we walked through the porch and into the pub, a plaque above the reception area next to the bar caught our eye. It read “Arrive as strangers, leave as friends”. A trifle clichéd perhaps but based on our experience pretty close to the truth.

Midway through our drink at the bar we were taken through and shown to our seats. Low lighting produced by imitation candle lights made for an intimate setting at the table. The food choice here is massive – there were not one, not two but THREE menus to pore over. The regular menu is itself physically large and awkward to handle when there’s one each, drinks and a comparatively small table. On top of that we were given another, thankfully smaller, menu consisting of the Chef’s Steaks and Specialities from the grill. Just when you think the decision on what to have is going to be hard enough they chuck in the daily specials board for good measure!

We ordered our starters and mains and when I asked my partner if she would like any sides the waitress told us with what we’d ordered we wouldn’t need any. I loved the waitress’s honesty but in hindsight this should have set the alarm bells ringing given that neither of us could be considered trenchermen!

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A sizzling platter of King Prawns and Chorizo Sausage signalled the arrival of the starters. Hot in both senses of the word, the prawns were cooked to perfection, accompanied by a mixture of peppers and onions with the chorizo sausage adding its signature smokiness.

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The soup of the day, Cauliflower and Stilton, was my choice of starter. Mostly smooth apart from a few florets of cauliflower, the soup packed the familiar intense taste of stilton but a more concentrated flavour of cauliflower would have brought a better balance to the dish. Still not a bad effort by any means.

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My main course of Moroccan Lamb was one of the daily specials. I’ll say this straight away – there was A LOT of food here. So much so, that when I had reached my limit, I was asked if I would like to take the rest home. I duly obliged and it was enjoyed as a snack the following day. The fact I was prepared to take it home should speak volumes. The lamb was cooked so well it made my knife pretty much redundant as it fell through each slice. Surrounded by a wonderful selection of vegetables and Moroccan potatoes the dish was crammed full of flavour and a great example of hearty home cooked comfort food.

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Chicken Fajitas were the choice of main for my partner. I think it’s fair to say that the guys at The Boot are not in the slightest bit parsimonious when it comes to portion sizes. A sizzling platter of chicken and peppers arrived at the table, quickly followed by a plate that held two tortilla wraps, cheese, a cucumber, tomato and an array of leaves plus the traditional accompanying sauces of guacamole and sour cream. Either more wraps or less filling may have been a good idea, the amount of filling and lack of wraps lead to some rather messy, undignified eating.

For the first time in a very long while I declined dessert, even after I was again given the option to have it to take away. The fact that they suggest the option of take food away and have suitable containers readily available suggests that it could be a regular occurrence. If this is the case then it’s probably due to their portion sizes and may not be needed if they were slightly smaller. My partner spotted one dessert in particular, the Jaffa Cake Cheesecake, although we saved it until well into the next day before we felt able to consume it. The cheesecake itself was a delight, a superb buttery biscuit base topped with a beautiful, silky smooth cream cheese. If it had been left there and just served as a Cheesecake all would have been well, very well in fact. Unfortunately, the addition of the words ‘Jaffa’ and ‘Cake’ made it slightly less impressive than it should have been.  A few pieces of Jaffa Cake scattered on top and not a lot after that left me with the taste of disappointment in my mouth. A shame as it had started out so well.

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At £71 for a meal that didn’t include a dessert for myself, 5 other courses that for the most part were just good pub grub and 2 glasses of wine, it seems a little over-priced. The staff are truly wonderful and I make no bones about that. Our experience wasn’t bad but on this occasion at least the food was massively outshone by the service.

6/10

Who is…Hélène Darroze?

Hélène Darroze is a fourth-generation chef who did not take the typical route into the culinary world. In 1990 after graduating from University with a degree in Business she took a role in the office of Le Louis XV restaurant in Monaco. The restaurant was run by world renowned chef Alain Ducasse who eventually convinced Darroze to take a job in the kitchen. After three years she returned home to the acclaimed family restaurant in Landes, south west France taking a role as a chef.

In 1999 the restaurant closed down after suffering financial difficulties. Towards the end of the same year, Darroze moved to Paris where she opened Restaurant Hélène Darroze. Two years later the restaurant won its first Michelin Star, with a second coming two years later. In 2008 as part of a £70m refurbishment of The Connaught hotel in Mayfair Hélène was named the replacement for Angela Hartnett who had run the restaurant on behalf of Gordon Ramsay holdings up until this point. Alongside the new décor also came a new name for the reopening of the restaurant within the hotel: Hélène Darroze at The Connaught. The restaurant won its first Michelin star in 2004 with Angela Hartnett at the helm, but it was Hélène Darroze who would drive the kitchen to further success, gaining its second star in 2008, just months after its reopening.

Despite its numerous awards, the Connaught restaurant has not been without criticism. Infamous food critic Jay Rayner after a visit in 2008 wrote in The Guardian that he had

“ Two of the very worst dishes ever to be served to me at this level; food which creates a whole new category of awful, which encourages you to pick up one of those shiny silver forks and stab it into the hand of the nearest waiter.”

Unfortunately Darroze lost her second star for her Paris restaurant in the 2010 edition of the Michelin Guide. She has however, retained one star since it was awarded.

Darroze is the mother of two adopted daughters, Charlotte and Quiterie, from different orphanages in Vietnam. Running two thriving restaurants in different countries comes with its own set of unique problems when adding young children into the picture. Commuting between London and Paris on a regular basis, Darroze is often accompanied by her daughters who themselves have become regular commuters from a young age.

Darroze was the inspiration for the character Colette Tatou in the 2007 film Ratatouille. In 2015 at the World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards in London, Hélène was named the World’s Best Female Chef. Still at the top of her game at the age of 50, in a male dominated industry, running 2 highly successful restaurants in different countries and raising 2 children single handed, she might just be a real world super woman.