Heston Blumenthal has claimed that female chefs are less likely to succeed because of their "biological clocks", and because they're unable to lift heavy pots and pans after childbirth.

The celebrity chef made the comments in an interview with the Economic Times, when asked why he thinks there aren't more women who reach the top level of the food industry.

"I have always employed female chefs, but historically and ultimately, the body clock starts working. It's evolution, and it is one thing to have a 9-5 job and quite another to be a chef with kids. So, that makes it difficult, the physical strain of lifting heavy pots and pans," he told the publication.

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The father of four has since been slammed on social media for his comments.

"Thank goodness they can find the strength to lift their children," wrote one.

"Blumenthal, who followed his biological clock in marrying a woman 20 years his junior. This is hilarious," wrote one.

Source: Ten

The 53-year-old also claimed the food industry was "much better" for women than it was 15 years ago, and that these days women were much more likely to "fight back" against sexist behaviour in the kitchen.

"The shock of women standing up for themselves is strong and men get really insecure," he added."

In New Zealand there is a noticeable absence of high-profile female "celebrity chefs" presenting reality food shows, which chef Michael Meredith describes as bizarre.

"I don't know why they don't get picked ... it would be nice to have a woman in there."

Kate Fay, Sue Fleischl, Jo Pearson, Judith Tabron and Sarah Conway have all achieved considerable success in New Zealand kitchens, but they remain in a minority, he says.

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"It's always been a male-dominated industry. It's quite funny because everyone's brought up with your mum cooking for you right and then when you're out in this professional environment, it's a male-dominated world. It doesn't make any sense."