Interview: French chef Helene Darroze on her favourite destinations, what she never travels without and more

Mar 20, 2017

Helene Darroze is a French chef with two Michelin-star restaurants, in Paris and at The Connaught in London. Named The World’s Best Female Chef in 2015, she also stars in TV’s Top Chef series. She shares with SilverKris her favourite cities, travel must-haves and more.

 

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My most memorable trip was to Hanoi (above) in Vietnam to adopt my first daughter Charlotte, who is now 10. It was the most beautiful day of my life. I remember how noisy and crowded the city was, its energy and how friendly the people were. And, of course, the food.

We stayed at the elegant Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, a former French residency, yet my favourite meals were at a tiny cafe for locals, where it was all about flavour and generosity. The deeply spicy pho with noodles, herbs and chicken was incredible.

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I invariably return to San Sebastian – I adore doing a pintxos (Basque tapas) tour and always end up at Ganbara (above), where the signature pintxo is moreish crab tarts.

My favourite hotel in San Sebastian is Hotel Maria Cristina, where I had a pop-up restaurant last year. It is beautifully situated in the middle of the city, overlooking the river.

I love the energy of New York. I take my daughters to the Children’s Museum of the Arts, where they get involved in drawing, then we go to Shake Shack for burgers.

Travelling is one of life’s greatest pleasures and I am always hungry for new experiences. This year, I am taking my daughters to Japan for my 50th birthday and Charlotte’s 10th birthday.

When I travel, I always wear a gold cross from my godmother, and pack Chanel No. 18 – it reminds me of the perfume of the pear brandy I like to drink in San Sebastian.

If I am on holiday and self-catering, I make sure I have my favourite ingredient to cook with: piment d’Espelette, which is a subtly nuanced, gently smoky Basque pepper powder.

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— BY SUDI PIGOTT

PHOTOS: MARIE ETCHEGOYEN (M6), 123RF.COM