Symth says she hopes to see the day when “these awards will no longer be needed.”

Elisabeth Sherman
April 25, 2018

Clare Smyth, chef and owner of Core in London, has been named the world’s best female chef by the World’s 50 Best restaurants organization. This is the first time that a British chef has received the accolade.

Smyth, who was born in Ireland, worked for Gordon Ramsay for 13 years at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Eventually, she ascended to the role of head chef at the restaurant, becoming the only women in the U.K. to run a three-Michelin-star restaurant at the time.

While the award is one of the most prestigious in the industry, it has drawn criticism from some chefs who believe there shouldn’t be a separate category for women when there isn't one for men. Dominique Crenn, for instance, won the award in 2016. At the time she commented that while “awards are very important because they are a platform to be able to speak up,” she hopes that more recognition of the industry’s female leaders will start a conversation about “having female chefs in the best of the world [awards] and bringing unity in the industry.”

Symth, for her part, hopes to see the day when “these awards will no longer be needed” because women are represented in equal numbers on lists like these. In the meantime, she says that she’s already discussed the lack of representation with World’s 50 Best, telling Bloomberg that this award is not for her, "but for all the women working in the hospitality industry around the world.”

Ana Roš, who was named the best female chef in the world last year, thinks that the experiences of female and male chefs simply can’t be compared.

“The best chefs in this world—look at Massimo Bottura, look at Rene Redzepi—they have great wives. They are 100 percent on their work because it’s taken care of, their children, it’s taken care of their private life… Do you think that happens to a woman? You can never compare these two different worlds,” she told Bloomberg.