All the best female chefs cooking in London right now
From triple Michelin winners to the brightest new talents – we celebrate the city's best female professional chefs.
Here's the best female chefs in London right now, and where to eat their food:
An alumnus of Alain Ducasse's Le Louis XV in Monaco, Clare Smyth is the only British female chef to earn three Michelin stars, and, in 2015, was the first in a decade to receive a perfect score from Good Food Guide. After 11 years as head chef and then chef patron of Gordon Ramsay's eponymous flagship restaurant, she has opened her own: Core. Located in well-heeled Notting Hill, Core offers 10 to 12-course tasting menus that centre locally-sourced ingredients.
Find out more about Core by Clare Smyth
Elizabeth Haigh (nee Allen)
A few months after earning Pidgin, a small east-end restaurant, a Michelin star, Haigh announced she was leaving the restaurant to focus on other projects. For her, earning a Michelin star in a little over a year was 'a valuable learning curve' and 'it felt like the right time to move.'
Born in Samoa, Monica Galetti cut her teeth as a chef in New Zealand, before beginning her UK career in the late 90's as first commis at Michael Roux's Jr.'s two-Michelin star restaurant, Le Gavroche. Her experience, skill, and the fact she was slightly overqualified – she had been working as a chef de partie in New Zealand – contributed to her rapid rise to senior sous chef, but it was her move to TV as the acerbic, no-nonsense judge on Masterchef: The Professionals that launched her into the public eye. Last year, she opened her own restaurant, Mere. An ode to her mother and her Samoan heritage, this Fitzrovia restaurant is 'relaxed fine dining' with a modern edge.
Find out more about Mere
Another graduate of Le Louis XV, Hélène Darroze is the fourth generation of her family to hold a Michelin star though, of course, she has three between her Paris and London restaurants. Having spent most of her career in France and Monaco, Darroze came to London in 2008 to take of the Connaught. Within two years, the restaurant had two Michelin stars and in 2015, Darroze was voted Best Female Chef at the World's Best 50 Awards. Fans of Pixar's animation film, Ratatouille, will be excited to know that Darroze was the inspiration for the character of Colette – the spunky lady-chef trying to make it in a male-dominated kitchen.
Find out more about Hélène Darroze
Much like Hélène Darroze, Anne-Sophie Pic comes from a family with a long tradition of cheffing. Her family's restaurant, Maison Pic, earned three Michelin stars in 1939 and, though its fortunes have waxed and waned since, it never left the culinary stage. Anne-Sophie took over the family business in 1997, two years after it lost its third Michelin star, which had been earned by her late father. Despite not having any formal training, the chef regained 'her father's star' a decade later.
With the opening of La Dame de Pic at the Four Seasons, Anne-Sophie has brought the Pic culinary dynasty to London. Always prepared to add her own twist to refined French cuisine, her menu plays with flavour and aroma to create intense, intricate, and technically exquisite dishes.
Find out more about La Dame de Pic
At Oklava, Selin Kiazin is working to redefine British perceptions of Turkish cuisine while maintaining an ethos of sharing. Born in north London to a family of Turkish-Cypriot expatriates, Kiazin draws on her heritage – and the memories of dishes eaten on trips to northern Cyprus – to create large, sharing platters loaded with flavour and sure to start a conversation.
Trained at Kingsway Westminster College, Kiazin won the British Culinary Challenge while earning her diploma. She began her career at self-professed 'King of Fusion' chef Peter Gordon's restaurant, The Providores, and quickly established herself going on to serve as a sous chef at his next opening, Kopapa. Between leaving Kopapa and opening Oklava in 2015, Selin did pop-up restaurants all over London as well as a residency at TripSpace – where she first designed an entire menu based on her Turkish-Cypriot heritage rave reviews.
Find out more about Oklava
One of the minds behind Bao and Bao Soho, Erchen Chang turned the eponymous Taiwanese street food into a London culinary phenomenon. Years later, the restaurants continue to have queues forming outside them hours before they open. Now Chang has opened a more conventional restaurant, Xu. Inspired by her grandmother – who cycled miles to pick up ingredients each morning before cooking multiple meals for 10 to 15 of Chang's extended family – Xu offers a menu authentic Taiwanese food that introduces new ingredients to the British palette, and novel ways of using known ones.
Find out more about Xu
The chef behind the popular Thai restaurant group Rosa's Thai Cafe, Saiphin and her husband Alex built a culinary empire of 10 of the restaurants, which emulate the street-side dining culture popular in south-east Asia. Their new concept, Saiphin's Thai Kitchen – a take away service and casual eat-in restaurant with a seasonal curries, restorative soups, and zingy salads – complements this vision. Given her reputation for rapid expansion without compromising on quality or style, you can expect many more Saiphin's Thai Kitchen locations to open in the coming years.
Find out more about Saiphin's Thai Kitchen
Though some critics accuse Lady Ruth Rogers' simple, seasonal Italian food of being overpriced, 19 years since earning her Michelin Star her restaurant, The River Cafe, remains a leading and popular London culinary institution. Famous for its luxurious feel, long waiting list, and upbeat staff, The River Cafe also has a reputation for launching the careers of other chefs with notable alumni such as Jamie Oliver and April Bloomfield. In 2015, Lady Rogers announced that a second River Cafe location would be opening in Mayfair, but objections from local residents concerned about noise pollution forced her team to search for a new location.
Find out more about the new River Cafe here