Where do you like to eat in London? There are so many great places to eat out in London. Borough Market is a firm favourite as I often spend time there buying fresh ingredients following lunch with my girls. I love Japanese food, and often visit Cubé in Mayfair. They do great modern Japanese tapas. I’m also a big fan of Isaac McHale, so will often go to The Clove Club.
Who are the best chefs in the capital right now? There is so much incredible talent in the capital! To name just a few: Brett Graham, Clare Smyth, Isaac McHale, Claude Bosi… It’s a never-ending list.
Where is the best place for a nightcap? Annabel’s has a great atmosphere.
What is your favourite London memory? I have too many! Any big London events such as Prince William’s wedding, Trooping the Colour, the London Olympics – there is a sense of solidarity, everyone is joyful and happy; it’s a true celebration of togetherness and pride.
You celebrated 10 years at The Connaught this year, what has changed since you first opened? I feel truly rooted and part of The Connaught, and most importantly, the London family. I’ve also really learnt to get to know the culture better, and love London. I know the city well and feel comfortable knowing where to go and recommend places to friends and family who come to visit. There is still so much to discover.
How has the recent refurbishment improved the space? The restaurant’s interior has been given a fresh, contemporary sensibility by the French designer Pierre Yovanovitch, who stripped back the mahogany stained panels to create a lighter, brighter aesthetic. I wanted not only to make the food lighter but to do the same with the design of the interior.
What can we expect from the new menu? The spirit of the restaurant is to show respect for quality cuisine, and I like each dish to tell a story. For example, my grandfather used to forage ceps [mushrooms] from the nearby forest, and my grandmother would cook them with garlic and parsley, which inspired me to serve Scottish ceps with fresh walnut, snail, lardo di Colonnata and persillade emulsion.
How will you spend Christmas this year? I’ll be celebrating with my family in Biarritz, and will definitely be cooking.
What is your favourite festive thing to do in London? I love to have afternoon tea at Claridge’s over the Christmas season. The seasonal cakes are delicious, and the atmosphere is wonderfully festive. The music, the choir singers, the Claridge’s Christmas tree adorning the lobby – there is so much to look at!
What is on your Christmas wish list? An airplane ticket to take me somewhere warm for a week-long holiday!
Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, Carlos Place, W1K, the-connaught.co.uk