Meet Angela Hartnett, the woman behind a restaurant empire

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Work/Life is Stylist’s regular column about the professional routines of successful women. Here, chef and restaurateur Angela Hartnett takes us through her one-day diary, from morning latte to lights-out. 

Angela Hartnett, 51, is a chef and the owner of four restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Murano in Mayfair. She lives in east London with her husband and her best friend

MY ALARM GOES OFF…

At around 6.30am. I normally snooze for half an hour while listening to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. The first thing I’ll do when I get out of bed is make a black coffee. Then I head into work. I don’t tend to have anything for breakfast.

I’M RESPONSIBLE FOR…

My restaurants. At the end of the day, I own them and the buck stops with me – it’s my name above the door. Along with my team, I’m responsible for ensuring that the food goes out at the same level we want the service to be at and that we make enough money to pay our suppliers.

I GOT THE JOB…

After I finished college. I started my career in hospitality, working at The Free Press pub then The Blue Boar in Cambridge. Next, I did a stint in Barbados at Tamarind Cove. After that I came to London and ended up working with Gordon Ramsay for 17 years, starting in the Aubergine days [the Chelsea restaurant opened under Ramsay in 1993]. I continued working in restaurants right up until I bought Murano in Mayfair, which opened in 2008. In our first week we had about seven critics come along, including four in the same night, which was a lot given that the restaurant didn’t have many tables at the time. Now, nearly 12 years later, Murano is still going strong.

Food from Murano
She opened her first restaurant, Murano, in 2008

MY TYPICAL DAY…

Can be long. We don’t do breakfast at the restaurants but making fresh pasta every day takes a lot of prep, which means early starts. I tend to do 50:50 cooking and admin. I cycle to work, usually basing myself in Murano; we don’t have any office space so I’ll just sit at one of the tables reading reports from all the restaurants that came in the night before, writing up menus and answering emails. If I need to be in the kitchen, I’ll help the guys set up and carry out the service. I have been spending more hours in the kitchen with the opening of the newest Cafe Murano in Bermondsey. We’ve brought in a lot of new staff so I make sure I’m around to teach them the ropes.

MY MOST MEMORABLE WORK MOMENT…

Was being awarded an MBE by the Queen for my services to hospitality. That was pretty amazing. I was very proud of it, especially for my mum and my family. I was really sick the day before so I felt a bit delirious early on, but the adrenaline kept me going.

THE WORST PART OF MY JOB…

I don’t know if there is a worst part actually. There are days when you get frustrated and things aren’t going right or staff may make mistakes in the kitchen. But I think we’re quite lucky. It’s a great industry to be in.

Angela Hartnett and Claudia Winkleman
Angela and Claudia at an event in 2016

THE BEST PART OF MY JOB…

Is working with the teams and meeting people. I’ve made some really great friends since I’ve been in catering, many of whom I’ve now known for most of my adult life. I love working with my restaurant teams. I’m a fair manager and approachable – and there’s real camaraderie. 

AFTER WORK… 

I tend to wait for the last main course to go out and then I’ll cycle home at around 11pm. I’ll have a bath or shower and then go to bed. Or I might watch something on TV – I like The Crown and the Scottish drama Guilt that was on recently.

CLAUDIA SAYS: I love Angela Hartnett, she’s hilarious. I’ve always wondered how she does her job.

Images: Getty

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Hannah Keegan

Hannah Keegan is the features writer at Stylist magazine.