“We are all really capable people and we’re used to taking care of people. It was a case of ‘we’ve got to do something to help’.”
This was the view of Clare Smyth, chef-patron at Core by Clare Smyth in Notting Hill, when the Coronavirus pandemic forced restaurants to close and communities across the country started to feel the strain the virus was putting on society.
Rather than sit by and watch, with a closed restaurant and a willing brigade, Smyth decided to lead by example and give support to people who needed it, as she explains in the first of a series of Community Heroes videos as part of the Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards.
The chef reached out to local communities and chose six different charities including The Red Cross, Paddington Hospital, and she and her team started cooking for them. At the height of the pandemic, the Core by Clare Smyth team was cooking 600 meals a week - with deliveries on a Monday and a Wednesday.
“The team couldn’t wait to help,” says Smyth in the video, which is sponsored by Ritter Courivaud. “They are young people who want to get involved. It was a case of holding them back.”
True to form, the two Michelin-starred kitchen created food for the local community that wouldn’t look out of place on many a restaurant table. Meals served during the pandemic included Highland wagyu shin of beef with mashed potato, using one of the most prized meats money can buy.
“Obviously we have incredible suppliers and incredibly generous suppliers,” says Smyth, who described the food she and her team cooked as “home comforting, really nutritious and delicious”.
Smyth and her team were among a number of chefs and restaurateurs who took it upon themselves to help out even though they were also suffering the impact of the pandemic. “The hospitality industry was one of the most affected, but we were one of the first to jump on and start helping out and taking care of people,” she says.
“This shows just how important restaurants are in every community. We take care of people as an industry, it’s what we do. It is about that and bringing everyone together and providing a service in a difficult time of need.
“This pandemic has highlighted how important the hospitality industry is.”
Community Heroes is a video series that is part of The Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards. This video was sponsored by awards partner Ritter Courivaud.