Monday 16 July 2018

Chef Clare Smyth named 'best female chef' in the world

Chef Clare Smyth holds her award for World's Best Female Chef during the World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards at the Palacio Euskalduna in Bilbao, Spain, June 19, 2018. Reuters/Vincent West
Chef Clare Smyth holds her award for World's Best Female Chef during the World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards at the Palacio Euskalduna in Bilbao, Spain, June 19, 2018. Reuters/Vincent West
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Northern Irish chef Clare Smyth has been named “best female chef" in the world at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards.

The Antrim-born chef was given the honour at a ceremony in Bilbao on Monday night, due to her work at her debut restaurant, Core by Clare Smyth, in Notting Hill in London.

Meanwhile, Italian chef Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana was named the best restaurant in the world for a second time.

While chef Joan Roca’s El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, came second and Mauro Colagreco’s Mirazur restaurant in Menton, France, came third.

Irish chef Clare Smyth, who in 2007 became the first and only female head chef in the UK to secure three Michelin stars. She grew up on a farm, left school at 16, studied catering at Highbury College in Portsmouth, and then quickly honed her craft in kitchens in the UK and the US.

She worked at Terence Conran’s Michelin House restaurant, the French Laundry in California, Per Se in New York, and Restaurant Gordon Ramsey.

Clare Smyth
Clare Smyth

She was awarded the Michelin stars at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.

Previously, Smyth spoke about how the increased presence of female chefs makes kitchens better places.

"It makes it a much more pleasant environment to work in," she says, before adding, "but you can go too far the other way, with too many women. It's better to have a good balance, as in any working environment."

She said she resisted the label of 'female chef' for a long time, wanting to be known for her talent rather than her gender.

"I never wanted to be separated," she explains, "but as I've grown up I do understand the importance of having someone at the top of the industry who you can recognise yourself in, and say 'if that person can do it, I can do it'.

As to why there aren't more female chefs in the industry, Clare also previously said she simply doesn't know.

"The working environment is way better now, for everyone, so being a chef is a much more attractive profession - and a much more professional profession too," she says.

"It's people's choice whether they want to go into it, but there's nothing to stop them doing it if they choose to."

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