Fine Living | Diary of a Somebody

Hélène Darroze

A visit from Jacques Chirac takes the chef back to the beginning of her career

Hélène Darroze

March 28 2011
Hélène Darroze

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

The morning I spent with my kitchen team in Paris. I had to return to the Connaught this weekend to cook a dinner for a Relais & Châteaux dinner, so it is important that I am confident my team are all happy and in control. The hours are so long and the relationships you build are very close in the restaurant world. And I am very lucky that many of my key team have worked with me for so long.

In the afternoon I took a little time for myself (sadly this happens very rarely) and I had some girl bonding time with Laeticia Hallyday (who spends much of her time in LA these days) and Salma Hayek. We all had our hair done, manicures; we had lots of jokes and these are special times whatever age you are. We are all so busy and have small demanding children.

I also did an unusual interview on Radio France. I had to choose my five favourite pieces of music and then to associate them with my favourite dishes to make a full meal, from amuse bouche, starter, main course and pudding; that was a challenge.

Tonight I was so happy to welcome Pani, my financial director at the Connaught, to my Paris restaurant for the first time. It is a very different experience in the two cities. Also tonight I was glad to welcome Jacques Chirac; I hadn’t seen him for a long time. He is a very spiritual man and we talked about the dinner I cooked for him about 15 years ago when he hosted Helmut Kohl in the south-west of France. I cooked one dish of pigeon and he wanted to have another plate of it. Madame Chirac asked me to give the recipe to the chef at the Élysée Palace. That was the start of my career and I was so impressed.

A special little moment today was also when a friend popped home to give Quiterie (my little daughter) her first haircut – she looks so pretty! I gave a call to my mother and father – we do that every evening with the girls. My family is so important to me.

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