Clare Smyth is shortlisted for the AA Chef of the Year Award 2016. Voted for by chefs all around the UK, this year’s winner will be announced at the AA Hospitality Awards on 26th September.

This annual award celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and rewards outstanding talent in the food and hospitality industry, including the Restaurant of the Year and the Chef of the Year. A popular and coveted title, the unique Chef of the Year award offers all AA Rosette-awarded chefs the chance to decide which of their peers deserves the ultimate recognition of their performance and previous winners have included Tom Kerridge, Daniel Clifford and Marcus Wareing.

Sea bass with shellfish and sea vegetable minestrone, coco beans and lovage

Sea bass

4 x 125g portions of sea bass (skin removed)


50g smoked salt

50g sugar

6g Kombu

1 litre water

Blend ingredients together and mix with the water.  Place the fish portions in the brine for 7 minutes.  Then remove, pat dry, wrap in cling film to shape, vacuum pack them and cook for 14 minutes in a 54°c water bath.

Bass Braising Liquor

250g unsalted butter

10 button mushrooms finely sliced

4 long shallots finely sliced

400ml Noilly Pratt

1.5ltr Fish stock

1 sprig of thyme

¼ Bay leaf

1 clove of garlic

Sweat the shallots and mushrooms in the butter until tender; do not colour. Add garlic, thyme and bay along with the Noilly Pratt, reduce by half, add the stock, bring to the boil, reduce by half again then pass through a fine chinois and emulsify.


250g 00 pasta flour

3 egg yolks

2 whole eggs

Pinch of sea salt

10ml olive oil

To make the pasta, place the flour and salt into a food processor.  Turn on the machine and gradually add the eggs and olive oil until a fine crumb is achieved.  Then turn the dough out on to the work surface and knead for 5 minutes. Tightly wrap the dough in cling film and rest in the fridge for 1 hour.

Once rested, roll and work the pasta using a pasta machine to a finished thickness of 2mm. Cut into 2cm x 2cm squares. Take each square and roll around a 2mm dowel from one point to the other and secure with a little water.  Remove the dowel and place on a pasta drying rack.  To cook the pasta, cook in seasoned boiling water for 3 minutes until tender.  Refresh and store till later.


200g Razor clams

200g large mussels

200g clams

200g small diced mirepoix

150ml white wine

Wash all the shellfish under running cold water for 20 minutes.  Drain the water.   Place 3 small lidded pans on the stove and heat. Divide the mirepoix between the shellfish. One at a time, add the shellfish to the pans with the mirepoix and 50ml of white wine in each; quickly replacing the lids.  Cook on a high heat until the shellfish open. Once open, strain off the liquid and reserve. Remove the shellfish from the shells and clean and trim them. The razor clams need to be cut on the diagonal (usually 5 slices per clam).  Set aside in the fridge.

Shellfish Broth

2 litres vegetable stock

100ml white wine

1 carrot

1 Stick of celery

6 button mushroom

2 spring onions

2 long shallots

1 sprig thyme

1 clove garlic

Shellfish cooking juices

Wash and finely slice the veg. Place all the ingredients into a pot and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until â…“ reduced. To finish the broth use the shellfish cooking juices. Season to taste.

Coco beans

100g fresh coco beans

250 ml vegetable stock

250 ml water

1 bouquet garni (garlic, thyme, bay and black peppercorns)

Place all the ingredients in a cocotte and bring to a simmer. Season and cook gently until the beans are tender. Once ready, cool the beans in the liquor and store in the fridge for later.

Lovage Oil

2 bunches lovage

250ml olive oil

Salt to taste

Sugar to taste

Wash and pick the lovage. Place all the ingredients into a Thermo Mix and blend on full speed for 3 minutes at 70°c. Season and cool down over ice bath. Once cool hang in muslin cloth for 12 hours in the fridge.

Sea Vegetables

50g rock samphire

50g marsh samphire

30g sea beet

30g sea purslane

Wash, trim and pick the sea leaves.  Blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds and refresh.

To Finish

12 Nasturtium leaves

12 sea purslane

12 borage shoots

12 land of sea shoots

12 Pennywort

Lemon zest and juice

To Serve

Place the sea bass portions into the braising liquor for 3-4 minutes.  Mix together the coco beans, shellfish, sea vegetables and Garganelli to make the Minestrone.  Lightly warm through.  Season and finish with a little lemon juice and fresh zest. Arrange the Minestrone in the centre of a bowl. Place the sea bass on top with the herbs and shoots. Bring the broth to the boil and, right at the end add 2 tablespoons of lovage oil.

Clare Smyth is shortlisted for the AA Chef of the Year Award 2016. Voted for by chefs all around the UK, this year’s winner will be announced at the AA Hospitality Awards on 26th September.