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Hampshire chef Angela Hartnett and her accolades

PUBLISHED: 11:20 30 May 2019

Angela Hartnett (Photo by Helen Cathcart)

Angela Hartnett (Photo by Helen Cathcart)

Helen Cathcart

Celebrating her first decade in the county, Angela Hartnett has been adopted as one of Hampshire's finest chefs. We look back over her accolades

With a career spanning nearly 30 years, Angela Hartnett is without doubt one of the most high-profile women in the restaurant industry. A regular on our television screens for years, she's been awarded an MBE, written columns and cookbooks and opened a string of successful restaurants which she continues to cook in and oversee.

From becoming the first female chef to win Chef of the Year in 2009 at the Caterer and Hotelkeeper Awards, following a long line of the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal and Raymond Blanc, to winning the accolade of AYALA SquareMeal Female Chef of the Year last year, Angela has proven time and time again that she has what it takes to deliver in an industry which sees many restaurants fold after their first year.

Starting out as a protégé of Gordon Ramsay alongside Marcus Wareing, Angela's cheffing CV reads like a list of top London dining experiences in a restaurant guide - Zafferano, Pétrus followed by The Connaught, where she achieved her first Michelin star.

Keen to branch out on her own, she opened Murano in 2008 and business has gone from strength to strength, no doubt due to Angela's drive and determination to achieve her very best when it comes to hospitality. Within a year, Murano had been awarded its coveted Michelin star and has held it each year ever since. The secret to this success? Angela's ethos is simple - it's all about the quality of what you produce. Judging by all accounts, it's this philosophy which has proved to be a winning formula as Murano celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2018.

"Looking after your customers, looking after your team and bringing out the best product you can…I think that's really key. You don't have to have the newest wave of cooking or the most innovative technology. It's about believing in what you do and doing the best you can."

Whilst many have asked about her perspective on being a woman in such a male dominated industry, Angela has always remained steadfast with her opinions. She's never felt the need to shout about being a woman in the industry. In fact, it's something which she feels has always been to her advantage.

"Everyone seems to think that our industry is awful and women are locked in a cupboard and only allowed out to make a crème brûlée, but I had a great time and still continue to," she explains. "I've never experienced sexism towards me and I've always been paid as much as the guys. I know it does go on but as far as I'm concerned, rather selfishly I've been very lucky. Whether it's luck or just doing my own thing and having a good time on the way, I've just always concentrated on my business as much as I do now."

As far as Angela is concerned in regards to winning awards, there's a lot to be said for them raising the profile of women in the industry, but she's keen to focus on the positive.

"It's not a bad thing for promoting the industry. It puts women chefs out there. It makes people think if she can do it and still have a life then there's something out there for me," she says. "We've got so many positives about our industry; we don't need to keep harping on about the negatives."

When it comes to nurturing talent, Angela has always had her eye on training the best of the best, and has a flair for spotting potential amongst her brigade.

"I think that at the end of the day it's about the cooking. It doesn't matter whether you're a man or woman, it's about what you put on the plate," she says. "If you've got great people with you, why would you want to let them leave or not give them an opportunity? If you can progress their career within your company, it seems a no-brainer to me to do that, rather than be on the hunt of a new chef or new manager every six months."

It's the camaraderie in the kitchen which Angela draws much of her inspiration from. She's never been one for following food trends and fashionable dining. Instead she prefers to stick to her own gut instinct and listen to her customers when it comes to her approach to cooking.

"I've always thought that you've got to stick to your roots and hopefully everyone comes with you. It's focusing on the every day. Working with a team in the kitchen, they are the ones that mainly inspire you because you're working with them. It's great when a young cook who's been working with you comes up with a great idea. We're so lucky - our industry is constantly moving, it's always on the go. You can't stand still and let it run past you. You have to move with it."

Murano, her partnership with Luke Holder at Hartnett Holder & Co at the New Forest's Lime Wood Hotel and a handful of other restaurant ventures have all flourished with Angela at the helm - a testament to her vision and hard work. She has gone on to open two Café Murano sites and head up Cucina Angela at Portetta, set amongst the breathtaking mountain scenery of Courchevel Morionda in France, with her combination of classic and modern Italian cuisine.

Always moving with the times, Angela and Luke have recently launched a range of Lime Wood own label wines created by the Fertuna Estate in Tuscany. Their guest chef pop-ups have been a huge hit too, with the duo masterminding a star-studded line-up including renowned Spanish chef Nieves Barragán Mohacho, Richard Corrigan, Rick Stein, Tom Kerridge and Phil Howard to name but a few. There are sure to be more exciting plans in the offing with festival Smoked and Uncut's awesome diary of events this summer, and plans are already afoot to celebrate another milestone anniversary in November - 10 years at Lime Wood.

One of Angela's many charms is the fact that she is incredibly down to earth. She has cooked for many high-profile celebrities and dignitaries and laughs about the time she cooked a Murano 'takeaway' for Hollywood A-lister, Harrison Ford. However, she cites one of her standout career moments as cooking for the troops out in Afghanistan - a "mind blowing and humbling" experience as she describes it, and she supports and gives her time to charities like Action Against Hunger and the Terrence Higgins' Trust, cooking bespoke meals for guests. She also continues to speak out about campaigns to combat food poverty.

There's an unstoppable energy about Angela and it's easy to understand why she is widely regarded as the most famous female chef in the country - she's clearly not one to rest on her laurels. Her words of wisdom for those starting out? It's all about seeking to achieve your best.

"Cook what you believe in, make sure you're doing well and treat your customers with great hospitality," she summarises. 


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