Chef Clare Smyth is one of the culinary greats who has earned her seat on Netflix’s The Final Table. Her thoughtful culinary point of view deserves her many accolades.
Chef Clare Smyth, the celebrated chef from the UK, may not be instantly recognizable to some U.S. food fans. After Netflix debuts its highly anticipated culinary competition, The Final Table, everyone will be enthralled with her. While understated, Chef Clare allows her thoughtfulness and attention to detail speak volumes. The chef who wants to secure the open seat at the table next to her will need to impress this conscientious culinarian.
Later this month, Netflix will debut the highly anticipated “don’t watch hungry” culinary competition The Final Table. The show’s premise brings together 12 teams of two chefs who will compete for a seat at the table of culinary greats. Each competing chef will have to impress the greatest chefs from around the world by creating a dish inspired by select countries’ national dishes. At the end of the competition, only one chef will be welcomed to the open seat at The Final Table of culinary supremacy.
In anticipation of the Netflix show’s debut on November 20, I recently was able to speak with Chef Clare Smyth over the phone. Chef Clare is the UK representative at the show’s table of culinary greats. It is a seat that she has definitely earned.
Chef Clare owns Core by Clare Smyth, which was recently awarded two Michelin stars in its first year of eligibility. Additionally, it was named best restaurant at the 2018 GQ Food and Drink Awards. Chef Clare was named 2018 50 Best’s Elit Vodka world’s best female chef. Lastly, she is one of only seven women to have earned a three-star Michelin rating. And, for pop culture fans, she was the chef for the Royal Wedding reception of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Chef Clare Smyth at her restaurant, Core by Clare Smyth, photo provided by Core by Clare Smyth
Her culinary accolades are numerous, but that long list isn’t what drove my desire to chat with her. Personally, I have always found women chefs are extremely thoughtful. Not just for the food that is presented at the table, but also for their approach to the culinary world. From the consideration in choosing ingredients to mentoring others, women chefs have, and should have, a very profound impact on the culinary world. My chat with Chef Clare solidified my beliefs.
Since this interview stemmed out of her involvement with Netflix and The Final Table, I asked Chef Clare what drew her to participate in this food programming. She said that she was drawn to the show because it was Netflix. She is a Netflix fan, including its culinary shows. Specifically, due to her busy schedule, Netflix is how she watches programs. It seemed like a good fit for her.
As a member of the table of culinary greats, I asked her about what it was like to sit at the table with the other culinary talents. She mentioned that it was nice to talk with colleagues who were in similar situations. While everyone’s culinary direction varies, these chefs have similar day to day experiences. Running restaurants, inspiring staff and finding culinary inspiration is something that is universal to all chefs at that table.
A few key ideas seems to weave their way into all aspects to our conversation. While I do not know how Chef Clare approaches her commentary on the episodes of The Final Table, she seems to feel a sense of responsibility to help aspiring chefs achieve as well as instill an appreciation for the food on our plates.
For example, at her restaurant, Chef Clare mentioned that she invests in all her chefs by requesting them to do extra projects. Through creating and presenting dishes, she gives these chefs the tools to further their culinary development. Even by having the chefs interact with guests, her mentoring is guided through encouragement and empowerment. She said that she wants to invest in these chefs. Without an investment in the future culinary talent, the industry’s future cannot be as strong.
Even while looking to the future, Chef Clare doesn’t forget the past. Classic dishes aren’t cast aside just for the sake of technology and advancement. Classics are a classic for a reason and chefs should know the history behind dishes. While there is a nod to the old school, her approach to her cuisine showcases the flavor of the ingredients on the plate.
Potato and roe, photo provided by Core by Clare Smyth
Much of our conversation focused on Chef Clare’s attention the ingredients that she uses in her dishes. She firmly believes that people should focus on eating more quality produce and healthy grains. Sourcing her ingredients from local purveyors is a huge priority for her. She understands how, who and why those ingredients have gone from farmer to kitchen.
Chef Clare believes that people are able to definitely taste the difference in quality produce and ingredients. In one of her dishes, she uses spelt from Sommerset, a specially sourced ingredient that greatly impacts the flavor in the dish. This attention to detail and care for each component of the dish is what makes her food so impeccable.
Even though I cannot jump on a plane to experience Chef Clare Smyth’s food for myself, she mentioned some ideas that any home cook can use. Quality ingredients and locally sourced ingredients will offer a better flavor in any dish. Once people really taste those flavors, they will be drawn to the produce and grain dishes. Those ingredients are good not just for ourselves but also for the world around us. Good ingredients and good food really does create a more delicious dish.
As foodies prepare for the debut of Netflix’s The Final Table, it will be interesting to see which UK dish is featured on the show. While Chef Clare’s menu focuses on locally sourced and produced foods, her dishes aren’t traditional British fare. Although she may have a nod to a specific dish, her cuisine is thoughtful, inspired and subtle. Her cuisine doesn’t need to shout to be heard above the rest.
I look forward to seeing how Chef Clare impacts this Netflix culinary competition. While she might be soft spoken and introspective, her cuisine speaks volumes. And in this show, the only drama served is the immaculate dishes by the competing chefs. It will be refreshing to see chefs make a statement with their cooking, not with their antics.
The Final Table debuts on Netflix November 20. The culinary competition features 10 episodes.
Core by Clare Smyth is located Notting Hill Brasserie, 92 Kensington Park Rd, London W11 2PN. Reservations can be made online.
I would like to thank Chef Clare Smyth for taking the time to speak with me and I would like to thank Netflix for facilitating this interview.