100: Angela Hartnett

01 July 2010 100: Angela Hartnett

Overall ranking: 72

Chef ranking: 20

Angela Hartnett - Snapshot

Angela Hartnett, a protégée of multiple-Michelin-starred chef-restaurateur Gordon Ramsay, is Britain's highest-profile female chef and, like her boss, has become a familiar face on TV. She is executive chef at two Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH) establishments in London: fine-dining restaurant Murano and the York & Albany, a boutique hotel and restaurant.

Angela Hartnett - Career guide

Born in Kent in 1968, Angela Hartnett was taught to cook by her Italian grandmother, who hailed from Bardiin 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 in to 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, since 2008, Hartnett has been executive chef at Ramsay's first boutique hotel, the York & Albany in Camden and at Murano, the Michelin-starred Italian restaurant in Mayfair.

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."

A true grit chef who is still one of Ramsay's most trusted aides and who was given the responsibility for, in Murano, the first GRH restaurant other than Royal Hospital Road not to be linked to a hotel.

Angela Hartnett - Further information

Angela Hartnett on the opening of Murano and York & Albany >>

Angela Hartnett to head new Gordon Ramsay venture >>

Gordon Ramsay and Angela Hartnett say goodbye to the Connaught >>

Gordon Ramsay website >>

Read more about the 100, the list of the most influential people, here >>

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