British culinary star who ran Gordon Ramsay’s flagship restaurant is crowned the world’s BEST female chef – but says having a separate award for women is ‘strange’
- Clare Smyth, 39, was first and only chef to hold three Michelin stars in the UK
- She now runs her own restaurant in London called Core by Clare Smyth
- She says the award helps to promote women in the industry
- However she admits that she hopes one day there won’t be a need for the gong
She has just won the title of world’s best female chef – but Clare Smyth admits it is ‘strange’ to separate men and women working in the industry for an award.
The 39-year-old, the first and only female chef to run a restaurant with three Michelin-stars in the UK at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, is the first British woman to win the honour.
Smyth, who now runs her own restaurant, Core, in London, says she hopes the award will encourage more women to work as professional chefs.
However some industry experts have branded the gong ‘insulting’ – and Smyth acknowledges that she hopes one day there will be ‘no need’ for the category.
Clare Smyth, who was the first female chef to hold three Michelin stars in the UK, has been named the world’s best female chef in 2018
Smyth, the elit Vodka World’s Best Female Chef 2018, told The Independent: ‘I stood shoulder to shoulder with men in the toughest kitchens in the world and excelled and loved it.
She added: ‘So to separate [male and female chefs] for me is strange, but we don’t see enough women coming through at the top and we need to do something about it.’
Speaking to Bloomberg, Smyth, who grew up in County Antrim, added: ‘This award shines a light on women’s success and gives people like me the opportunity to talk about how we can support and mentor the next generation.
She added: ‘When we see women represented in numbers in lists like these, then we will have changed the industry for the better and these awards will no longer be needed.’
Clare Smyth (left) is renowned in the industry and now has her own restaurant, Core by Clare Smyth (pictured right winning at the GQ Food & Drink Awards in April)
Some working in the food industry have branded the award sexist and unnecessary
Food magazine Eater has branded the award ‘absurd’ and ‘insulting’ to Smyth.
Editor-in-chief Amanda Kludt argued that women ‘are neither a different species nor a different category of human’ and therefore there shouldn’t be a separate award for Best Female Chef.
The award has long been criticised by chefs and others working in the industry.
Five years ago, Anthony Bourdain tweeted: ‘Why—at this point in history—do we need a ‘Best Female Chef’ special designation? As if they are curiosities?’
Smyth was awarded the title of Best Female Chef ahead of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony this summer.
The evening will also see the unveiling of the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018.
Smyth left Northern Ireland at the age of 16, and worked in some of the most celebrated kitchens in the world, including Alain Ducasse’s renowned Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, where she won a 10/10 score in the Good Food Guide and five AA rosettes.
Smyth was honoured with an MBE in 2013 for services to the hospitality industry.
William Drew, group editor of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said: ‘Her devotion to her craft, uncompromising standards and undoubted culinary finesse are just three of the reasons why she is worthy of this award.’
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