“Less Is More”: Angela Hartnett
"The equipment doesn’t make the dish, it's the produce. Less is more – keep it simple and don't mess around."
To those with even a passing interest in food, Angela Hartnett should require no introduction.
However, one thing you may be unaware of is that the London-based chef, restaurateur and MBE is bringing her world-famous Murano restaurant’s style down to Cornbury Park for Wilderness Festival, where she will be hosting a series of feasts. The dishes that Angela will be preparing for those lucky enough to get a ticket early enough include rigatoni with fennel sausage and parsley, porcini ragu and San Marzano panzanella. OX Magazine’s gluttonous food fanatic Jack Rayner caught up with Angela to find out more.
Hi Angela, how does the creative challenge of cooking at a festival like Wilderness compare to that of a more traditional restaurant kitchen?
Well, you are in a tent and a field for or a start, but that's what makes it fun. You have to understand the limitations this creates, but once you have your head around the practicalities of what you’re doing, it's great.
For the menu for your Wilderness feast, what theme are you going for? Are you thinking about provenance of ingredients from the local area? How important is locality to sourcing your ingredients?
I’ve followed my traditional style of cooking – very Italian, but using British produce. I’m not necessarily focusing on local ingredients, but what we have done is tailor our drinks list to Oxfordshire.
Do you have a signature or favourite dish to prepare?
I love making pasta, so it’d have to be one of our pasta dishes.
Outside of your work commitments, do you enjoy cooking for friends and family?
I love it. I can listen to Radio 4, have a drink and relax. There pressure of service is gone, and the food becomes about the enjoyment of sitting down with friends and family and enjoying the company as much as the meal itself.
What advice do you have for home cooks like me, who are keen to prepare exceptional food but don’t have access to restaurant-grade equipment?
The equipment doesn’t make the dish, it's the produce. Less is more – keep it simple and don't mess around. With brilliant, seasonal ingredients, you can create something amazing with very little.
What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
Plain salted crisps. Love them.
Out of all the famous chefs you’ve taught, learned from and known, who do you get on the best with?
That’s a difficult question, because in our business we all work so hard that it's not easy to find time to see each other. I seem to get on with everyone, but I particularly love Jason Atherton and Marcus Wareing, because I’ve worked with them for so many years. On trips and dinners, I probably spend more time with Mark Hix than anyone else.
You’re now a Wilderness veteran – how have you seen the festival change over the years, and what are you most looking forward to this year?
Grace Jones and the naked cricket!
Top Image – © Knut Aaserud
Below – © Helen Cathcart
Bottom – Murano © Annabel Staff Photography