The award is voted for by more than 1,000 industry experts from 26 regions of the world and seeks to highlight excellence among female chefs.
Smyth, who is chef patron at Core in Notting Hill, told the World’s 50 Best Restaurants she wanted to use her platform to support other women in the sector.
“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,” says Smyth.
“Sometimes you have to go over the top by recognising women and giving them a platform so that we can really start to change things and recorrect the balance. There are lots of young women coming through in top kitchens across the globe and for me this award is for them.”
Smyth grew up on a farm in County Antrim, Northern Ireland and left at the age of 16 to pursue a culinary career.
She joined Gordon Ramsay's Royal Hospital Road [now Restaurant Gordon Ramsay] in London in 2002 and rose through the ranks to senior sous chef in under three years. After leaving to work Alain Ducasse’s renowned Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo she returned to Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in 2007, where she became the first female chef in the UK to hold three Michelin stars.
Smyth stepped down as chef patron in 2015 and launched her own restaurant Core in 2017.
Of the 14 chefs in her kitchen, only three are women – including Smyth herself. She now mentors women at sous chef level and encourages them to put themselves forward.
She also runs workshops with Core’s restaurant director Rob Rose to give all her staff tools to deal with harassment in the industry and from customers.
“There are lots of issues the hospitality industry needs to address and I’m very supportive of those girls,” Smyth told 50 Best. “I make sure I look after them, address all the issues and support them because they will change things. Give them five years and they’ll push the boundary and break it apart and change the industry.”
Smyth will receive her award at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony in Bilbao, Spain on 19 June.
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