Northern Irish chef named ‘best female chef’ in the world

Picture: Northern Irish chef Clare Smyth in San Sebastian, Spain, before the announcement of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018. Photograph: EPA/Gorka Estrada.

Congratulations to Northern Irish chef Clare Smyth who has been named “best female chef” in the world at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. At a ceremony in Bilbao on Monday night, the Antrim-born chef was given the award for 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 at Monday’s ceremony. His restaurant, which opened in 1995, was awarded the top spot for the second time – it also came first in 2016.

In second place, chef Joan Roca’s El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, climbed one place from last year, as did Mauro Colagreco’s Mirazur restaurant in Menton, France, which moved from 4 in 2017 to third in 2018. Eleven Madison Park in New York, which won best restaurant in 2017, dropped to fourth place after it closed for renovations for four months last year, while Gaggan in Bangkok climbed from 7th in 2017 to 5th for 2018.

Smyth moved to the UK from her family’s farm in Northern Ireland when she was 16, to study catering at Highbury College in Portsmouth. She went on to work at Terence Conran’s Michelin House restaurant and completed stages at the French Laundry in California and Per Se in New York before going on to work as chef patron at Restaurant Gordon Ramsey in 2007 – where she became the first and only female chef to run a restaurant with three Michelin stars in the UK.

She opened her Notting Hill restaurant in July 2017, which has since been named Best Restaurant at the 2018 GQ Food and Drink Awards.
However, the “best female chef” award has been a controversial addition to the World’s 50 Best Restaurants accolades.

Why—at this point in history—do we need a “Best Female Chef” special designation?

Smyth – whose own restaurant was omitted from the top 50 – told the World’s 50 Best Restaurants: “We still have a real lack of women recognised at the top of the industry and we have to do something about that – we’re not going to change it by ignoring it… to separate [male from 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.

“I would love to see very soon that we don’t need gender specific awards because women will have recognition and there will be a balance in the industry. Hopefully we’ll see plenty of women on the 50 Best list and there won’t be a need for that award.”

Article by The Irish News