Life is food and food is life

Being the fourth generation of a family of chef, gastronomy is to me and the people working with me an opportunity to give others a unique form of pleasure by creating dishes that are dear to me and I hope will be dear to my guests. Above all I am trying to recreate a cuisine thatt is full of instincts and emotion : faithful and sensitive.
Emotion is the starting point, authenticity is the common thread and creative flair brings self-expression.

How it all began

I was born in Villeneuve de Marsan in Landes
South West France? These are my roots. My name, my family, my region... I am rooted in tradition, I was brought up learning from three generations of chefs, I have a great deal of respect for my ancestral and regional heritage. For me the South West goes from Charentes to the Spanish Basque country, spanning Périgord and Toulouse and reaching the Langeudoc border. It is in this region that the art of eating well was instilled in me, not only that but the importance of hospitality and in a nutshell the art of good living.
 
An unusual career path
After completing my university studies getting a degree from l’Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Bordeaux Business School, I joined Alain Ducasse's team at the prestigious Louis XV restaurant in Monaco. After 3 years there the great chef encouraged me to get into the kitchen. My course was set!
In 1995 my father very generously gave me the keys to the kitchen of the family-run Relais & Châteaux in Villeneuve-de-Marsan. I chose to apply the lessons learnt by my ancestors: respect for ingredients, great flavours and hard work. I spent four years in the family business, giving me time to refine my culinary style.

Authentic ingredients

Ingredients will always take precedence in my kitchen. Their quality, source, freshness and the producer behind them are also essential selection criteria. I seek to enhance them but at all times applying the greatest respect. Respect for the produce, respect for the season, respect for expertise.
Thanks to my loyal suppliers who have worked with from the start, I create dishes using the best the season and the market have to offer. Taste vegetables grown by Joël Thiébault, foie gras from Monsieur Dupérier and white asparagus from Régine Ginglardi. Sample fish straight from the fish market in Saint-Jean-de-Luz or Fontarabiet, enjoy meat, poultry or game according to the season, raised by Pierre Oteiza, la Maison Aimé or Pierre Duplantier, my loyal suppliers in the Landes region.

Hélène Darroze

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