For the past eight years, Clare Smyth has been at the helm of the three Michelin starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London. As the first and only female chef to run a restaurant with this accolade in the United Kingdom, Smyth is a force to be reckoned with.
The pedigree of this Irish-born chef makes her an ideal mentor for the upcoming S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 competition. Smyth will mentor 23-year old Mark Moriarty, the finalist from the Ireland/UK region who will cook a signature dish of celeriac baked in barley and fermented hay with cured and smoked celeriac at the grand final at Expo Milano 2015 in June.
FDL caught up with Smyth ahead of the big event to find chat about what makes a great chef and how she intends to help Moriarty become the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015. Here's what she had to say:
How would you define your style of cuisine in one sentence?
I can’t describe my food as having any particular style; I cook simply with beautiful ingredients that I want to eat.
What is your signature dish?
I do not have a signature dish; they evolve over time.
Who was your most important mentor for your profession and why?
Gordon Ramsay - he gave me the opportunity and is still a great mentor to me today.
What’s the best advice you were ever given when you were training?
Work hard and question everything.
Do you remember one of the big mistakes you made in a kitchen when you were training? (Can you explain what happened and what you learned?)
I can’t recall any serious mistakes that I made but what I did learn is never to make the same mistake twice.
Is there one mistake you see young chefs making very often? What should they do instead?
They try to go too far too fast and don’t actually learn their skills correctly. Instead they should spend their time learning the skills that will make them into great chefs.
What are the best characteristics a young chef can have, nowadays?
Hard-working, respectful of produce and the industry, curiosity and passion.
What are the worst?
Arrogance and laziness.
What’s your main focus in advising the S.Pellegrino Young Chef candidate of your region?
To be confident in your dish, calm and simply enjoy the experience.
What’s your message to all the finalists of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 worldwide?
To enjoy the experience and learn from each other and everybody around you as much as you can. It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase your food and to enjoy other’s also.