It’s hard to find a chef who has had a better year than Clare Smyth. When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wed, they came to the former Gordon Ramsay protégé to cater the sit-down meal for the royal wedding. Soon after, the World’s 50 Best organization declared her the World’s Best Female Chef (a bit of a dubious honor, but an honor nonetheless). And today, her first restaurant—Core by Clare Smith in London—accomplished the rare feat of debuting in the Michelin Guide with two stars.
Smyth is no stranger to high-level cooking. Before she opened her restaurant in 2017, she ran Gordon Ramsay’s eponymous London restaurant and was the first and only female chef in the U.K. to hold three Michelin stars. Receiving the honor today in London, she was greeted on stage by her mentor.
“It makes it obviously even more special that Gordon’s handing it to me,” Smyth told the crowd. “It’s been a hell of a year. We’ve achieved what we really set out to achieve.”
At Core, she’s a little less formal than Ramsay’s restaurant, stripping away the tablecloths for a more relaxed setting. Clearly, she impressed inspectors. This was the first year Core was eligible, and she skipped the step of earning one star before building up to two. This means she may be on the path to become the fourth London restaurant to earn three stars. No other restaurants joined those ranks this year, after Araki ascended in the previous guide.
Two other restaurants joined Core in the two-star category for the 2019 Michelin Great Britain and Ireland guide: Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs in London, and Moor Hall out in the countryside of Lancashire. And among the 21 places earning a Michelin star for the first time, Ikoyi became the only African restaurant in UK to have a star when it was added to the list today.
It wasn’t all happy days for Ramsay alums. Marcus Wareing, who worked for the shouty chef before embarking to pursue his own three-star dream, took a step in the wrong direction this year. As chronicled in the BBC documentary Michelin Stars: The Madness of Perfection he’d been pursuing the guide’s top honor for years with it continually eluding him. His eponymous restaurant was demoted to one star, which he didn’t expect. “Surprising news after one of our best years ever. I’m as proud of my team today as I was yesterday,” Wareing tweeted after the announcement. “It’s business as usual—it’s about good food & fantastic hospitality at the end of the day.”