Meet Claire Lara
Where to begin?
I moved to Paris when I was just 18 and went to work for Albert Roux. After 12 months, he moved on and a French chef took over and 18 months later, our team of 5 chefs won a Michelin star! This is where I met my husband Marc, and after almost 6 years in Paris, we moved back to Liverpool.
In 2010, I was chosen to compete in MasterChef and was delighted to be the first ever female winner!
In the years since I was lucky enough to win MasterChef, my life has completely transformed. During the filming of the show, little did I know that food wasn’t the only thing I was cooking. As it turned out, my soon-to-be son was also along with me for the ride, heightening my senses and helping me develop dishes that led me to success. George is now 6 and has Oscar, 3, as his partner in crime. Many have asked me about the balance of life as mother and a chef. Incredibly, I have found that the unsociable hours and the hectic, pressured lifestyle set me in good stead for what was to come!
Becoming a mum forced me to take a break from the kitchen and allowed me time to reflect on becoming MasterChef champion and think about what I wanted to do next. I knew I needed something that could work with my family and opted to go into business in a small hotel, local to where I grew up. Looking back, I think nostalgia got the better of me and while it worked on one level, the inner creative in me wanted to explore other options.
After a series of TV appearances and demonstration sessions, I decided that I once again wanted a challenge and took up an opportunity to run a young chef’s academy for the Timpson family. Based on the model of Jamie Oliver 15, I enjoyed the chance to give others access to experiences that I had been given all those years ago. It was wonderful to see young people taking up opportunities in London and transforming their own lives.
Over the six years, I have cooked for lots of different people: my sons, my husband, my mum, Raymond Blanc and oh yeah… the Queen. The latter was a huge honour and somewhat surreal. After this professionally, the bar really was set!
So, what next for me? Everyone who works in this industry knows that life as a chef is transient, and for me this is one of things I love most about it. The dream has always been to open my own restaurant with my husband Marc and develop something really special. Something that harnesses what is really important to us about good quality food for all of the family. That dream became a reality in January 2018 with the launch of Tasters at Llanrhaeadr Springs.