>> Angela Hartnett is one of the most high-profile female chefs in the restaurant world, having learnt her trade from the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing.
In 2004 she gained her first Michelin star and launched Murano in Mayfair in 2008.
Her latest venture is Hartnett Holder & Co - a relaxed, stylish and comfortable upscale restaurant in partnership with chef Luke Holder at Lime Wood in Hampshire.
You have worked with some of the biggest names in the chef world. Who has had the biggest influence on you and what lessons did they teach you?
Gordon Ramsay - he taught me about consistency, the fact that everything has to be as it should be.
A dish can't be so-so one night and then great the next, it has to be consistently good to make sure the customers come back.
Tell us about your connection with Italy and how it has influenced your style of cooking.
My mother's side of the family emigrated fromItaly when my grandad was only 19 years old and I grew up with Italian food.
I love the simplicity and the seasonality of it, it's delicious tasting food but not over-fussy. Less is more.
You've won a host of awards, including an MBE and a Michelin star. Which meant the most to you and why?
The MBE and the Michelin star mean the most to me for different reasons. The MBE was very personal and itmade my family very proud.
The Michelin star was as much about the staff as it was about me - you don't win it as an individual, you win it as a restaurant so it was brilliant for all the team.
Is appearing on TV a necessity nowadays for high profile chefs? Do you enjoy the experience?
I don't think it's a necessity - I know a lot of people doing a great job who don't appear on TV. I think it helps and I enjoy it, as long as it's relevant and something I believe in.
"At Lime Wood guests literally do sit in the kitchen
and they get to see a lot of stuff going on."
You seem to have a very nurturing attitude towards your staff. Is your caring approach more effective in bringing out the best in people?
It's really hard and you can't be successful with everyone. People have got to believe in you and want to work with you so it's important to look after them.
Why are there still so few female chefs at the top of their game? What advice would you offer to aspiring female chefs?
I have no idea why there are so few female chefs at the top but there's a lot more than people think. There's about 10 women on Great British Menu this year. I think women are less publicity driven. My advice to all chefs, not just women, is to stick with what you want to do. If you want to work in a Michelin-starred restaurant, stick with that level, or maybe you want to work in a brasserie or pizzeria. Don't chop and change and, whatever you are doing, do it well.
Tell us about your latest venture at Lime Wood. It sounds like heaven in Hampshire!
It certainly is! It's a fantastic location and I get on brilliantly with Luke Holder, the head chef down there, we have the same ethos about food. Obviously we have our disagreements and we argue it out - and I win!
It's also a great privilege to be working with Robin (Hutson), the chairman of LimeWood, who is very well known in the hotel and restaurant world.
How does having an on-site Smoke House influence the menu? And what is "forest food"?
The Smoke House is very much Luke's thing but it's great to understand it. We do a brilliant Smoke House board of charcuterie and we smoke our own salmon and mackerel but that doesn't mean that everything on the menu is influenced by the Smoke House.
"Forest food" really refers to the fact that everything is local where possible, local pigeons and venison, and we do pick mushrooms and cobnuts from the forest. A lot of chefs have jumped on the foraging bandwagon but Luke and the guys really do understand what's local to them and what you can and can't eat.
Both at Lime Wood and Murano, you offer a Chef's Table experience where guests can come and sit at the kitchen table and chat to you and your colleagues whilst you cook.
"Everything is local where possible, local pigeons and venison, and we do pick mushrooms and cobnuts from the forest."
What do you and your customers gain from this interaction?
At Lime Wood guests literally do sit in the kitchen and they get to see a lot of stuff going on. The chefs introduce the food and clear the table and answer any questions so there's a lot of interaction.
At Murano the table isn't in the kitchen but we do invite people into the kitchen to cook one of the courses. It's great to chat to customers and, for the younger chefs in particular, it's really good to see the appreciation for the food they have cooked.
What are your three kitchen secrets?
- Cook seasonably - it's cheaper and the food tastes better.
- Add pancetta to soups and stocks for extra flavour.
- Add a tiny bit of fresh yeast to mushrooms for a delicious nutty flavour.
What is your favourite ingredient and why?
Rosemary - it's a fabulous herb with a great flavour.
Please could you share your favourite recipe, along with your reasons for choosing it?
Pumpkin Risotto - it's a great comfort dish. We put it on the opening menu at Lime Wood and it's just lovely.
Angela's Pumpkin Risotto
>> Serves 6
For the pumpkin puree:
- Cut the pumpkins into large chunks, cover in olive oil and roast for 25-45 minutes in a 180°C oven until soft.
- Allow to cool, scrape the flesh away from the skin and roughly chop by hand and reserve for later.
For the risotto:
- Dice the shallots, heat the remaining olive oil to soften the shallots.
- Add the risotto rice and toast for two minutes. Add the white wine and cook until dry. Now add the stock, a ladle full at a time, and keep stirring until all the stock is gone. Repeat this process until the rice is chewy not chalky.
- Take off the heat add the pumpkin puree, butter, parmesan and chopped sage and keep stirring vigorously until a creamy consistency is achieved, season and serve.
- Crumble the blue cheese and cooked chestnuts over the top.
- 1kg pumpkin
- 200g cooked chestnuts
- 60g blue cheese (preferably Gorgonzola or a local blue, we use Nanny Blue, a blue goats cheese)
- 400g risotto rice
- 1 Litre vegetable stock
- 100ml white wine
- 50g butter
- 30g Parmesan
- 5ml olive oil
- ½ bunch sage
- 100g shallots
Article taken from Jan / Feb 2014 issue of Stir it up magazine. Get your copy here