Leading chefs have welcomed the appointment of Clare Smyth as Gordon Ramsay's head chef at his eponymous three-Michelin-starred restaurant on London's Royal Hospital Road.
Smyth has replaced Simone Zanoni, who has left to oversee the opening of Ramsay's restaurant in Versailles, France, next year.
She will work under executive chef Mark Askew and becomes the first woman in the UK to head up a three-Michelin-starred kitchen.
Lisa Allen, head chef at Michelin-starred Northcote Manor in Langho, Lancashire, and a Caterer Acorn winner this year, said Smyth's appointment was good for the industry.
"This has the potential to inspire more girls to join the industry - and to spur on those of us already within it," she said.
"It can sometimes be hard for women to work their way up in the kitchen as it's often a very male-dominated environment. But this appointment shows that if you're a strong, hardworking person, anything is possible."
Eyck Zimmer, executive chef of the Lowry hotel in Manchester, said that, while the industry was still mainly male-dominated, there was no reason why women shouldn't run three-starred restaurants.
"If you have the talent it doesn't matter what sex you are and I would be more than happy to work under a female head chef," he said. "There are a lot of women out there who are incredibly talented chefs."
Simon Wright, chef-proprietor of Y Polyn in Nantgaredig, Carmarthenshire, welcomed Smyth's appointment, and added that it didn't surprise him.
"We have always known that women make great chefs. I have two women in my kitchen and it's a much calmer, less hysterical environment as a result," he said.
"One thing about Gordon Ramsay is that he has a track record of spotting great talent and I'm sure Smyth must be very good. It's his flagship restaurant and he wouldn't trust her with the job if he wasn't 100% sure she could do it."
Three-Michelin-starred female chefs
- Anne Sophie Pic, Maison Pic, Valence
- Elena Arzak, Arzak, Donostia-San Sebastian
- Carmen Ruscalleda, Sant Pau, Sant Pol de Mar
- Luisa Marelli Valazza, Al Sorriso, Soriso
- Nadia Santini, Dal Pescatore, Canneto sull'Oglio
- Annie Féolde, Enoteca Pinchiorri, Florence
Source: Michelin Group France
By Kerstin Kühn
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