When Clare Smyth was named “Best Female Chef“ at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants gala in June there was unease in the room about the prize, and what it said about women in the culinary world. Only four of those “50 best” restaurants are run by women, and the industry is notoriously male-dominated. Kitchens are, for want of a better word, pressure cookers, and the men who run them are notorious for testosterone-fuelled behaviour.
Smyth, who rose to the top in the kitchen run by the poster-boy of aggressive leadership, Gordon Ramsay, now helms a successful London restaurant, Core by Clare Smyth, and does things very differently. “The approach we take more now is trying to inspire, rather than rule by fear,” Smyth said in an interview with The Guardian. Her style, which includes rigorous staff training and an approach that’s mindful of work-life balance, reflects a quiet revolution at work that is embracing qualities and traits that have long been devalued in the workplace because they are seen as “feminine”.
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