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Restaurant to Watch: Paris

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Five minutes from the Hôtel Lutetia, a culinary wunderkind is breaking gastronomic ground with imaginatively prepared dishes from southwestern France: fresh foie gras grilled over a wood-burning fire and served with roasted fruits, Landes chicken flavored with wild mushrooms stuffed beneath the skin, bay scallops accompanied by a chestnut velouté, and a feathery-light chocolate mousse on a sheet of hazelnut-flavored caramel. At 33, the petite, tow-headed Hélène Darroze is the only female chef in France to have won a Michelin star—barely six months after opening her eponymous restaurant in Paris. Born with a chef's spoon in her mouth (her family has run restaurants for four generations), Darroze maintains that a three-year stint working in the office of Alain Ducasse's Louis XV in Monaco permanently infected her with "the culinary bug." Although she had a degree from a top business school in Bordeaux, her passion for la grande cuisine led her to work at and ultimately run her father's restaurant in Villeneuve-de-Marsan in the Landes, where she was able to maintain her family's one-star Michelin rating. Today, Darroze is at the helm of two innovative establishments under a single roof: upstairs, an elegant dining room in reds, oranges, and aubergines as intense as the flavors on her menu; downstairs, at street level, the informal La Table d'Hélène, where diners eat from tables placed at varying heights. Menus change every three weeks. Restaurant Hélène Darroze, $130; La Table d'Hélène, $35. 4 Rue d'Assas, Paris 75006, France; 33-1-42-22-00-11; e-mail, helene.darroze@wanadoo.fr.

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