Aurelia Delclos, a former interior designer, is probably one the first to bring good French home cooking to London. Her restaurant “Chez Antoinette” has been in Covent Garden for 4 years, serving traditional food to homesick French people. When I moved to London from Corsica, I knew that is where I would definitely go for a taste of home.
With ‘Chez Antoinette’, Aurelia created the perfect place for people seeking an authentic French vibe. Whenever I go there I feel at home and I think it might be because it reminds me a bit of my grandmother’s kitchen.
The first time Aurelia moved to London, back in 2008, her goal was to improve her English. After that, she had planned to go back to France in order to continue her interior designer career in a company where she had the opportunity to work internationally. Little did she know that she would later become the owner of one of the most popular restaurants in Covent Garden.
The idea of ‘Chez Antoinette’ emerged at a moment of her life when she had enough of working for someone else and felt the need to take a break. She then left London to go to India, where she stayed for four months. This trip has been the turning point, and after that, she finally decided to follow her dream.
“I needed to stop working for someone else so I really wanted to open my own business. And for me having a restaurant had always been a dream.” (Aurelia Delclos)
When I asked her why she chose to settle her restaurant in London she told me, “I fell in love with this city due to the energy and the opening mind. I think that for every French, when we come here, we find a kind of freedom that we, unfortunately, do not have in our country.”
This restaurant was for her a new challenge and also a way to give a tribute to her grandmother Antoinette.
“I chose the name ‘Chez Antoinette’, first of all, as a tribute to my grandmother, who taught me everything she knew about cooking. And also because my concept was to make people come in my grandmother’s kitchen.” (Aurelia Delclos)
With this restaurant, Aurelia tried to create a place where people would feel as if they had been teleported in France. To do so she made sure to offer everything that she was missing while living there: good bread, quality French products, traditional French meals…
Then she used her interior designer’s skills to decorate the restaurant in the most ‘Frenchie way’ possible, using only antique objects coming from France.
“I created my little ‘French bubble’ in London.” (Aurelia Delclos)
Her role in the restaurant is very diversified, as a boss she does not really have a typical daily routine. For instance, she can work in the kitchen in the morning, then serve the customers at noon, and finally, do administrative work in the afternoon.
When I talked to Robert Charasse, the manager – the person who Aurelia relies on the most in the restaurant – he told me, “To describe Aurelia I would use the image of a coin. She is a demanding boss on one side, because of her desire to create something unique and special, but on the other, she is also very human and a lovable person.”
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