Clare Smyth crowned the World’s Best Female Chef 2018: An interview with the chef
Two days after winning Best Restaurant at the GQ Awards 2018, Clare Smyth, chef-owner of Core by Clare Smyth in London, has been crowned the World’s Best Female Chef 2018 (sponsored by Elit Vodka) ahead of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony in Bilbao, Spain on 19 June. The award, now in its eighth year, seeks to shine a spotlight on extraordinary talent and excellence among female chefs.
Accepting the prestigious accolade, Smyth said: “It’s an absolute honour to receive the Vodka World’s Best Female Chef Award, particularly as the category is voted for by my peers and international food experts. This accolade is not for me but for all the women working in the hospitality industry around the world. I hope to use this platform to encourage and mentor more women to achieve success.”
Smyth, who grew up on a farm in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, was the first and only female chef in the UK to hold three Michelin stars, for Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, formerly known as Royal Hospital Road, in Chelsea, London. She worked with top British chef Ramsay for more than 13 years before opening her own modern fine dining restaurant, Core by Clare Smyth, in London’s Notting Hill neighbourhood, in 2017.
Leaving Northern Ireland at the age of 16, Smyth 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, now 39, was honoured with an MBE in 2013 for services to the hospitality industry.
With an emphasis on natural, sustainable food sourced from the UK’s most dedicated farmers and producers, Core is an elegant but informal fine dining restaurant offering sophisticated modern British cuisine. Smyth and her team create beautifully crafted dishes such as the ‘Lamb carrot’ and ‘Potato and roe’, often inspired by memories from her childhood in Northern Ireland. Almost everything in the restaurant is British, from the plates and silverware to the art and the best of local produce including Morecombe Bay shrimps and Isle of Mull scallops.
William Drew, Group Editor of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said: “We are proud and excited to announce Clare Smyth as this year’s World’s Best Female Chef. Her devotion to her craft, uncompromising standards and undoubted culinary finesse are just three of the reasons why she is worthy of this award. Clare’s passion for the industry and her positive attitude towards equality in the kitchen similarly inspires us all. She is the perfect role model to show aspiring young chefs what can be achieved with hard work, patience, dedication and exceptional talent.”
“This is an amazing opportunity to put women at the forefront, and at the same time inspire women all over the world that with passion, anything is possible” says Frances Gaillard, International Marketing Director of Elit Vodka. “Pushing the limits of her profession, Clare Smyth is a fantastic chef and we are proud to support her continued influence in today’s gastronomic culture. As a brand, to share ideas and knowledge with audiences allows us to be agents of culture not just marketing messages.”
Smyth follows in the footsteps of a series of world-renowned female chefs in holding the prestigious title, including Ana Roš in 2017; in 2016, Dominique Crenn, who will also host the inaugural 50 Best BBVA Scholarship winner at her restaurant Atelier Crenn later this year; Hélène Darroze (2015); Elena Arzak (2013) and Anne-Sophie Pic (2011).
The award will be presented at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony at the Euskalduna Palace in Bilbao on 19 June. The star-studded evening will also see the unveiling of the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018. There will be a glamourous red-carpet reception and post-awards celebration party. The awards night will be preceded by a special edition of #50BestTalks, a culinary thought-leadership conference exploring food developments, restaurant trends and chefs’ stories, which will feature Smyth among a list of other highly regarded chefs and food experts. #50BestTalks will be hosted by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants as part of the awards programme at the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastian on Sunday 17 June.
The editorial unit
Photo: Anne Emmanuelle Thion