British chef clare smyth interview


Hailing from a family of potato farmers, Clare Smyth grew up on a small farm in Ireland by the ocean, an environment that went on to inform her career. Today, Smyth’s heritage can be felt in the rich textures and sustainable ingredients base of her recipes. “Everything you do, you have to question sustainability and also, why you are using it – don’t just use things blindly. That is not the time we live in.” This intelligent approach rests at the heart of Smyth’s restaurant, Core, in Notting Hill, London which boasts a menu of locally grown, and organically harvested vegetables.

The 39-year-old chef, hopes to revert her guests’ thinking back to a very personal relationship with food, as they embrace a gut feeling that is felt when considering base ingredients, combining flavours and putting a dish together. “I learned to trust myself, to trust my own palate. I have been cooking for so many years, and there is so much experience that comes with that. Most of my cooking is probably driven by that experience, because it kind of teaches you what to do with the ingredients. You just feel it.” This natural approach leaves Smyth with three Michelin stars next to her name, and an unparalleled status as the first British, female chef to achieve this. Most recently Smyth was appointed a Member of the Order of British Empire, proving her success is more than justified.

Describing her style as French-meets-modern-British, Clare is not only influenced by her environment, but also her own emotions, memories, and belief system. “I think I put a considerable amount of me in the dishes, who I am, where I am from. There’s a lot of personality coming from things I’ve picked up as a habit in my life, things that I have tasted and eaten. Anywhere and in any situation, all over the world. Flavours can stick in your head, and that’s incredible.” Subsequently when cooking, Clare is not only creating a dish, but a world around it, reaching right back to an origin: the kitchen. “It is very much a home environment for me. With all of the people in the kitchen, we are like a family. I feel very relaxed, and it has everything I need around me to do what I need to do. It’s something I’ve been doing for over 20 years, it’s where I belong.”

With the series Women Who Create, Material Magazine is looking to highlight women from a variety of professions and passions that use their unique talents to carve out a space for themselves and their art in our cultural landscape.

Photography by CLARA NEBELING