This is a special year for Hélène Darroze. Fresh from the recently awarded three stars in the Michelin guide for her London restaurant Hélène Darroze at The Connaught” and two stars for “Marsan par Hélène Darroze” in Paris she has now announced a partnership to take over the entire food and beverage operations of Villa La Coste, a grand luxury hotel in Provence, France.
She will be serving a cuisine in her image, imbued with emotion, sincerity and authenticity. Nestled at the heart of the Château La Coste Estate near Aix-en-Provence, the Villa La Coste is a modern-day luxury palace celebrating authentic and exclusive refinement, in total harmony with the artistic life of the surrounding estate.
Seduced by the opulence and diversity of the vegetables and fruit from this French region, Hélène has chosen to make them the key focus of the menus she has created for the fine dining restaurant Hélène Darroze at Villa La Coste. From appetisers to end-of-meal delicacies, they lead the dance from beginning to end right down to the title of each course, with meat and fish only as accompaniments.
“The quality of local produce is such that this decision was essential from the outset, as was an absolute quest for simplicity”, explains Hélène. “When we are lucky enough to find such exceptional vegetables and fruit, it is up to us to cook to enhance them, not to transform them”, she says.
In the fine dining restaurant, the “Walk in the gardens of Provence” menu – developed by Hélène alongside Marco Zampese, her Head Chef from Hélène Darroze at the Connaught in London, Thomas Pézeril, Executive Chef at Villa La Coste and her great pastry chef Kirk Whittle – takes place in eight acts. It will evolve and change naturally according to the harvests and seasons.
Some of the dishes featuring on the opening menu are: The Terra t’air safran in Puy-Sainte-Reparade, where precious saffron pistils (organically grown a stone’s throw from the Château) add golden yellow to creamy Camargue rice with shellfish and cuttlefish, flavoured with savory leaves and a dash of Espelette pepper oil; or The “Red Florence” cebette by Aurélien Knipping in Puy-Sainte-Reparade, a “Rouge de Florence” – a beautiful long onion with purple undertones – served tender and lacquered with a reduction of red wine from Château La Coste and paired with a matured Hereford Prime beef tenderloin, grilled over vine leaves from the Château’s vineyard, finished with a Bordeaux sauce of fermented green pepper; or to end, Guillaume Galoppini Apricot in Bellegarde, picked fresh then gently poached and stewed, the orange red apricot is served with fermented milk and orange blossom ice cream and finished with an olive oil crumble from Domaine Château La Coste to add texture.
In addition, Hélène alongside her London-based restaurant manager, Mirko Benzo, and Head Sommelier at Villa La Coste, Bernabé Pérez, have been given carte blanche for the wine offering. The Estate’s all organic, biodynamic wines will occupy a prominent place on the list alongside other regions in France, as well as some of the finest vineyards in the world.
Guests can also enjoy all-day dining at different locations around the Villa at times and places that suit them. From library to lounges, bedrooms, bar, terraces and pool from breakfast to dinner, guests will be able to indulge in a truly bespoke service tailored to their individual requests.
Hélène Darroze at Villa La Coste restaurant is the jewel in Hélène’s gastronomic crown at Villa La Coste. With spectacular panoramas out over the Estate and the Luberon Massif beyond, the room is set within a glass-walled pavilion that appears to levitate above a mirror basin, opening up onto an outdoor terrace. The simplicity of its transparent drapery and elegant furniture perfectly envelops the artwork suspended from the ceiling representing an embracing couple by the acclaimed artist, Louise Bourgeois.