Slow Food Day has seen some big-name chefs participating over the past six years, but the 2017 event will host the biggest name yet when Britain’s highest-achieving female chef cooks at Abacus in Camana Bay.
Clare Smyth, MBE, who was the head chef at Michelin three-star Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London, will team up with Abacus Chef Will O’Hara for the dinner portion of the three-part event on 8 April.
The Northern Ireland-born Smyth will also cook at several “pop-up” events at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa between 9 April and 14 April. She came to Grand Cayman for a short visit in February and was surprised at what she found.
“A friend of mine introduced me to Cayman and I wasn’t aware of just what a great movement there is here already in food,” she says of her decision to participate in Slow Food Day and the Seafire events. “Of course it helps it’s also a paradise!”
The acclaimed chef was able to fit the trip to Cayman into her schedule partially because her own modern fine dining restaurant in Notting Hill in West London isn’t due to open unitl July.
Over the past few years, there has been a global trend away from traditional fine dining restaurants, but Smyth believes there’s still a place for fine dining.
“I think that there is a big difference between traditional fine dining and modern fine dining,” she says. “Pretty much every new three-star restaurant in the world is far from traditional. Being modern and still cooking at the same level is pretty much where it is at now. In this sense, fine dining is very much alive and sets the benchmark for the industry in terms of innovation and standards. Casual is different: a much simpler and everyday affair.”
Although Smyth’s name appears on many lists of the world’s top women chefs, the profession is still dominated by men. She hopes to see more women enter the profession and rise to top levels.
“As the industry evolves, it is much more attractive for women,” she says, adding that having more women chefs would bring better balance “as in all walks of life.”
She says she has noticed no difference at all between men and women chefs in terms of technique, recipes or plating style.
“Good chefs are just that … in every aspect of their work and workplace,” she says.
At the Slow Food Day event, Smyth will get to work with some local ingredients, something she’s used to doing in the UK.
“I always try to use the produce locally; this is very important to me,” she says, adding that she’ll be working with local growers and producers in Cayman for vegetables, fish and goat.
She says she’s looking forward to working with Cayman’s ingredients, even if it means a more rustic dish.
“I love all styles of food and trying new things,” she says. “Some types of food should not be too refined. As long as ingredients are fresh and prepared and cooked with respect, then that really is all that matters.”
Smyth joins an impressive line-up of well-known chefs who have cooked at Slow Food Day since it was established in 2011. Others have included Michael Schwartz, Cindy Hutson, Jonathan Waxman, Hugh Acheson, Andrea Reusing, Susan Spicer, Edward Lee and
For more information about Slow Food Day, visit camanabay.com.