Fine Living | Need To Now

Women cooking up a storm

Top female chefs show off their culinary talents

C5b8f86f-406b-4fef-a34e-e45b2cc8719f_sixty_square Cbb7b49b-5145-499e-9ad4-52e691f818d8_sixty_square
Women cooking up a storm

February 18 2012
Vicki Reeve

Think of a top chef, any top chef… Most of us are likely to name a man: Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, Mark Hix, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein – and these are just some of the Brits. But, of course, there are some fabulously talented female chefs out there. The inaugural Girls Night Out in London aims to celebrate their culinary talents – and you’ll need to book now to get a taste.

We’re talking serious cooking: Angela Hartnett (second picture), chef patron of the Michelin-starred Murano and executive chef at the Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room, and (alongside Hélène Darroze) arguably London’s queen of restaurant cuisine, is involved. The project works like this: three renowned female chefs from Africa, the US and Brazil have been cherry-picked and will be paired with three from the UK. From March 11 to 13 each brace will create a series of five-course bespoke dinners (preceded by a champagne-and-canapé reception) at 1 Lombard Street Restaurant (first picture).

The three UK chefs are the aforemetioned Hartnett, plus Clare Smyth of the three-Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, and Anna Hansen of the highly acclaimed Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell. The three intercontinental chefs are: Margot Janse, executive head chef of Le Quartier Français hotel’s The Tasting Room restaurant in Franschhoek, and Africa’s only Relais & Châteaux grand chef; Gabrielle Hamilton, chef-owner of Prune in New York, and the 2011 James Beard NYC Chef of the Year; plus South America’s number-one female chef, Helena Rizzo of Mani in São Paulo.

Even the perfectly matched wines will have the feminine touch, as the sommeliers are all women, led by Dawn Davies, who occupies the role at Selfridges and has worked at top London restaurants Zuma, Boxwood Café at The Berkeley, The Square and The Ledbury. Lucky man Nigel Barden, the radio and TV presenter, will co-host each night with Hartnett and food-and-drink writer Fiona Sims, feeding guests’ questions to the cuisinières on duty.