During the UK-themed episode of Netflix’s culinary competition show The Final Table, Clare Smyth, one of London’s most esteemed chefs, leads a challenge focusing on English peas. Here’s everything you need to know about Smyth, one of the nine elders who also co-judges the show’s final competition.
Who is Clare Smyth?
Clare Smyth is the chef and owner of Core in London’s Notting Hill, which debuted in August 2017. The chef rose to prominence while working at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, where she eventually ascended through the ranks to become a partner in the establishment. She was responsible for maintaining Restaurant Gordon Ramsay’s three-Michelin-star rating between 2007 and 2015. Smyth was the first female chef to have helmed a three-Michelin-star restaurant in the U.K. Her first solo restaurant Core debuted with two Michelin stars in fall 2018. Smyth has also received the dubious “World’s Best Female Chef” award from the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, though Core didn’t rank on the official guide. Earlier this year, she also happened to cater the royal wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
What was her journey through the culinary world like?
Smyth was born in Northern Ireland and began working in restaurants at age 15. By 16, Smyth had left Ireland to pursue a culinary career. She did an apprenticeship at Grayshott Hall in Surrey and attended culinary school in Portsmouth, according to the Telegraph. Eventually, she would work at London’s Bibendum (a restaurant literally in Michelin’s former headquarters), St Enodoc Hotel in Cornwall, and with chefs like Heston Blumenthal and Albert and Michel Roux. Eventually, Smyth made her way to Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen in 2002 and worked there — with brief stints abroad — until 2015.
Smyth has been outspoken about the hurdles she faced early in her career. “When I first started here [Restaurant Gordon Ramsay], it was very, very male-dominated,” she told the Guardian in 2007. “There was a hell of a lot of testosterone in that kitchen. I was told I wouldn’t last a week. There were people saying, ‘It’s not for girls, you shouldn’t be here.’ It took me a long time to earn respect.” In 2015, Smyth departed from the Ramsay fold to open Core in Notting Hill.
What is Clare Smyth’s food like?
Smyth takes a modern approach to fine dining with tasting menus that celebrate British ingredients. She’s best known for her potato and roe dish — a potato served with beurre blanc, herring roe, and trout roe — and a lamb carrot that incorporates every aspect of a carrot and lamb neck including the tops. “I like to challenge perceptions and to make the vegetables rather than the meat the star of the dish,” the chef recently told Fine Dining Lovers. Other highlights on the menu at Core include an Isle of Mull scallop tartare, and pear with verbena ice cream.