Northern Ireland chef Clare Smyth, recently named the world’s best female chef, said that women are too often overlooked in the culinary sector.

“We still have a real lack of women recognized at the top of the industry,” said Smyth, speaking at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Gala in Bilbao, Spain, on Monday.

“We have to do something about that, we’re not going to change it by ignoring it … to separate [male and female chefs] for me is strange, but we don’t see enough women coming through at the top.

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“I would love to see very soon that we don’t need gender-specific awards because women will have recognition and there will be a balance in the industry,” said Smyth who catered Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s evening wedding reception in May.

“Hopefully we’ll see plenty of women on the 50 Best list and there won’t be a need for that award,” she added.

Smyth, 40, was presented with the world’s best female chef award at the gala, which also named Italian chef Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana as the best restaurant in the world.

Smyth, who was born in Antrim, left her family’s farm at the age of 16 to study catering at Highbury College in Portsmouth.

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She worked at Terence Conran’s Michelin House restaurant in London, the French Laundry in California, Per Se in New York, and Restaurant Gordon Ramsey, where she became the first and only female chef in the UK to earn the coveted three Michelin stars, The Guardian reports.

In 2013, she was awarded an MBE for her contributions to the hospitality industry.

Smyth opened Core by Clare Smyth in July 2017.

Irish chef Clare SmythFacebook/Clare Smyth