26 July 2014

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Kitchen Confidential: Angela Hartnett


Angela Harntett - MG_5498.jpgAngela Hartnett talks Square Meal through the kitchen of her home, a five-storey Georgian house in Spitalfields, east London that she’s lived in for the last seven years with her sister and her Jack Russell, Alfie. The chef patron of Murano also tells us about her favourite gadgets and the memories they hold.

‘I was living in a flat in Stockwell, and I didn’t know much about Spitalfields before I came here. At the time, it was just starting to develop, but I love it here; it’s got a real neighbourhood feel. Everyone’s really friendly, and I have neighbours round for supper now and again.

‘The one thing the area lacks is a really decent food shop, but there are so many good restaurants: Brawn, Hawksmoor, St John Bread & Wine, and the more chainy places like Leon and Giraffe.

‘The kitchen is exactly as it was when I moved in. I like the wooden worktop – there’s just something homely about it, and I don’t want the stainless-steel stuff I have at work. But I don’t have too many gadgets; I don’t really see the point of them. The only thing I’m really particular about is knives. The best ones are definitely made by the Japanese; I use a brand called Kin.

‘I do cook at home quite often. I’m obsessive about using up food in my freezer, so if it gets full up, I send an email round, telling people that they can come round and I’ll feed them. Frugality – that’s what it’s all about!

‘And I love making pasta. I have the wooden board that my grandmother used to use – she was from Emilia-Romagna, in northern Italy. When she wasn’t using it, she’d keep it under her bed to support her back. Together, we’d make tortelli with spinach and ricotta in spring and summer, and then anolini, which we’d stuff with veal and beef.

‘I take most weekends off now; Diego [Cardoso, Murano’s head chef] takes care of things. I’m generally at the restaurant between 8.30am and 9am; I’m not there at 7am peeling carrots – been there, done that. But I’m generally there until the last mains have gone out, so I don’t leave until at least 11pm. But I’m insistent that the team gets out and leaves the restaurant between shifts – so they do get to see a bit of sunlight each day.’

Hartnett’s must-haves

angela hartnett_kitchen confidential - Angela-Hartnett_coffee-grinder.jpgCoffee grinder
‘I bought this in Italy. I live in a house that’s old, so I guess I don’t want too many gadgets in here. I got this from a market, and at the time, my mum wanted to know why I was ‘buying all this tat’!’

Cooking pots
angela hartnett_kitchen confidential - Angela-Hartnett_pots.jpg ‘I bought these ceramic pots in Italy. The stone one on the right is from Brazil – perfect for slow cooking. The copper pots at the back are from The Connaught – we used to serve them at the chef’s table.’

angela hartnett_kitchen confidential - Angela-Hartnett_parmesan-grater.jpgParmesan grating machine
‘A lot of people use these in Italy. It’s generally the only time you see men in the kitchen there. It’s almost always women who do the cooking, but for some reason, the men seem to want to prepare the Parmesan.

Fish knife
angela hartnett_kitchen confidential - Angela-Hartnett_knives.jpg ‘My grandfather used to chop up the fish at his chip shop with this. Whoever does this job holds the power, because you only let the people with the best knife skills loose on the best ingredients.'

angela hartnett_kitchen confidential - Angela-Hartnett_kettle.jpgKettle
‘This is made by Le Creuset. I really like the colour, and I’ve had it since I moved in, so it’s at least seven years old. My brother and sister-in-law bought it for me.’

Chef decoration and cookbooks
angela hartnett_kitchen confidential - Angela-Hartnett_books.jpg ‘The hanging chef was a gift from a friend who now lives in Italy. I just have a few books here, but I have a huge collection in my office – including my new cookbook, A Taste From Home!’

This article was featured in the summer issue of Square Meal Lifestyle.

Words by Stuart Peskett
Photography by Stephen Perry

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