Pastry chef Claire Clark has received an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for her services to the food industry. Clark, considered by many to be the UK's leading female pâtissière for over a decade, declared herself thrilled but surprised by the recognition.
Speaking from Nigel Haworth's Fantastic Food Show in Blackburn, where she is operating a 150-seat pop-up tea room, Clark told Caterer: "I got the letter about three weeks ago and I really thought it wasn't for me because it was addressed 'Dear madam'. It was a very official letter and I honestly thought it had been sent to the wrong address. I put it aside for 10 minutes, then had another look, saw my name at the bottom and realised it actually was for me. It's fantastic and a great honour."
Clark's career has encompassed working as Thomas Keller's head pastry chef at the renowned French Laundry in Napa Valley, California and being part of the launch team for London's highly successful Wolseley in 2003. Most recently, from September to November 2010, she ran a pop-up tea restaurant at London department store Harvey Nichols.
The first British female pastry chef to win a Master of Culinary Arts (MCA) award in 1997, Clark has had a long association with the Academy of Culinary Arts and was one of the first recipients of the latter’s respected Annual Awards of Excellence. She is also a two-time winner of the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Pastry Chef of the year.
By Neil Gerrard
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