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Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Angela Hartnett, Murano

01 July 2011
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Angela Hartnett, Murano

Overall ranking: 63 (ranked 72 in 2010)

Chef ranking: 18 (ranked 20 in 2010)

Angela Hartnett - Snapshot

Angela Hartnett is the chef-patron of one-Michelin-starred Italian Murano, in London's Mayfair. A protégée of multiple-Michelin-starred chef-restaurateur Gordon Ramsay, she is Britain's highest-profile female chef and the only woman to have won Chef of the Year at the Cateys. Until recently she was still under the employment of Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH), before buying her restaurant Murano from the group in October 2010.

Angela Hartnett - Career guide

Born in Kent in 1968, Angela Hartnett was taught to cook by her Italian grandmother, who hailed from Bardi in Italy's Emilia Romagna region and moved to live in Wales in the 1930s. After taking a history degree at Cambridge Polytechnic, Hartnett worked in a number of small family-run restaurants before joining Midsummer House in Cambridge as a waiter. Here she "blagged" herself into the kitchen, where she learnt her craft on the job.

The next stop on her journey was Barbados, where Hartnett worked in a restaurant at the Tamarind Cove hotel before returning to the UK in 1994 to do 10 stages in restaurants across London. This included a stint at Gordon Ramsay's new Aubergine restaurant (part of the A-Z Restaurants group) that turned into a full-time job.

Aubergine marked the start of Hartnett's long association with Ramsay, who picked up his first two Michelin stars at Aubergine - in 1995 and 1997 - after launching the restaurant in 1993. Hartnett moved around the A-Z stable, working with Giorgio Locatelli at Zafferano and joining another Ramsay protégé, Marcus Wareing, at L'Oranger.

Following Ramsay's split with A-Z in 1998 and the subsequent expansion of his restaurant empire under the GRH banner, Hartnett has been at the helm of many of his openings. Initially, however, she worked alongside him at his eponymous three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, and, as Wareing's "right-hand-man", helped to launch the two-Michelin-starred Pétrus, which won its first star within seven months of opening.

2001 was a hectic year that saw Hartnett opening Amaryllis in Glasgow's One Devonshire Gardens hotel, which won a Michelin star the following year, and overseeing the brasserie-style Glasshouse and fine-dining Verre restaurants at the Dubai Hilton Creek hotel - Ramsay's first overseas restaurant consultancy - before handing the executive chef reins on to Jason Atherton.

From 2002 to 2007 - the year she was appointed MBE - Hartnett was chef-patron of Angela Hartnett's Menu at the Connaught, which netted the chef her first Michelin star in 2004. GRH and the Connaught parted company in 2007 and, in 2008, Hartnett returned to the fold as executive chef at Ramsay's first boutique hotel, the York & Albany in Camden and at Murano.

In 2010, upon informing her long-time employer of a wish to set up on her own, Ramsay offered her the opportunity to buy Murano, and the sale concluded in October. She remained in charge of York & Albany until the end of the year, before handing the reins back to GRH and taking on a consultancy at Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room in January 2011.

Since appearing with Ramsay on ITV's Hell's Kitchen in 2004, Hartnett has made numerous TV appearances, including on the BBC's Kitchen Criminals and Take On The Takeaway. She competed for Wales in BBC2's Great British Menu competition in 2006 and 2008.

Angela Hartnett - What we think

As Britain's highest-profile female chef, Angela Hartnett could be forgiven for getting fed up with being interviewed about being a woman in the kitchen rather than her undoubted cooking skills.
But it doesn't bother Hartnett. "There are still so few women in the industry. If being a woman is one of the assets that make you stand out, because you're in a male environment and as good a chef as, if not better than, a man, then use it. It's part of who you are," she told Caterer in 2008.

Hartnett has come a long way since her first day at Aubergine, when the mostly male brigade were taking bets on how long she would last. Marcus Wareing, part of the brigade, was the most generous, giving her two weeks.

"Angela would take as much as anyone could," he recalled, in an Observer Food Monthly interview in 2007. "The hardest thing for us was the number of people who came and left. Less than one in 10 actually stayed. But Angela Hartnett is a grafter. She just battened down the hatches and got on with it. She's a true-grit chef."

In June 2009 Hartnett became the first woman to win the Chef Award at the Cateys, two years after she picked up an MBE for services to hospitality, and while her modern Italian cooking will be around for years to come, it is her breakthrough into a once male-dominated industry that will have the lasting influence.

Angela Hartnett's ranking in the 2010 Caterersearch.com 100 >>

Menuwatch: Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room >>

Women's 1st's Top 100 Women in Hospitality and Leisure >>

Angela Hartnett buys Murano from Gordon Ramsay Holdings >>

Murano website >>

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