Robb Report UK Culinary Masters 2018 Part III

Nominator Angela Hartnett

The woman behind highly-acclaimed modern Italian outfits Murano and Café Murano, Mayfair, as well as Hartnett Holder & Co in New Forest

[text] With sites in Mayfair, St James’s, Covent Garden and Shoreditch (as well as a country collaboration down in the New Forest), Angela Hartnett is the queen of the London restaurant scene. Ever approachable, she has fostered a family culture at her company, led by Italian fine dining flagship Murano, which is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Hartnett and her team are also supporting former Murano head chef Pip Lacey’s first independent venture, Hicce (pronounced ‘ee-che’), which opens in King’s Cross this October. “Pip came to work with me at York & Albany straight from a career in graphic design,” says Hartnett. “You could see immediately she was determined to prove herself, perhaps because she hadn’t had the usual chef’s training. Like most young chefs, she wanted to put too much on the plate, but she listened and learned. She has very high standards and is tenacious.”

A long-time protégé of Gordon Ramsay herself, Hartnett believes you have to let bright, talented chefs pursue their dreams. After four years at Murano, where she rose from chef de partie to head chef, Lacey set sail on her solo voyage after winning TV’s Great British Menu last year.

“Pip will cook differently to me, just as I cook differently to Gordon – that’s the beauty of breaking away and doing your own thing,” she adds. “Pip is imaginative, very hard working and has an artistic side to her.” Like her mentor, Lacey is the sort of strong personality who will make her a distinct mark on the super-competitive London culinary scene.

Cafe Murano 

Nominee: Pip Lacey

A former front-of-houser, now setting up her own London eatery, Hicce

Her cheffing background may be steeped in high-end dining, but Pip Lacey is motivated by the drive to make high-quality food more accessible to customers in the UK. The former Murano and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay chef will strive to make her own restaurant, Hicce in London’s King’s Cross, as enjoyable a dining experience as possible with an open kitchen, sharing plates and a relaxed service style.

A decade ago, however, she was working in graphic design, only to be inspired to pursue a culinary career on landing a job with Angela Hartnett. “I remember hearing her voice before I met her,” recalls the 35-year-old. “Angela has a great presence when she enters a kitchen. Her manner instantly gained my respect. She was very engaging and confident, but not at all intimidating.” “It’s hard sometimes being criticised about your creations, but she would always suggest tweaks, rather than criticise, which is a much more positive way of nurturing.”

Lacey worked under Hartnett for six years over two stints. “From Angela, I’ve learned not to overcomplicate food – or life. I think we’re both quite direct and straight-up people, which helps in the kitchen. She’s helped shape my style and my palette.”

At Hicce, Lacey aims to give similar opportunities and inspiration that she enjoyed to other young chefs, and to demonstrate what a great career choice it can be. “There’s great pleasure to be had in how you can make others feel,” she adds.

[breakout] CV

1981 Born in Nottingham

2000 Cuts her hospitality teeth as a maître d’hôtel, aged just 19, in a hotel in a ski resort

2001 Becomes manager of the xxx restaurant in xxxx whilst still studying at university

2004 Following a brief spell as a graphic designer, becomes assistant manager at Soho’s flagship Med Kitchen aged 23

2008 Makes the leap from ‘front’ to ‘back’ at 27, joining Gordon Ramsay Holdings as a chef and working under Ramsay’s protégé Angela Hartnett

2011 Joins Angela Hartnett’s Michelin-starred Mayfair establishment Murano

2014 Becomes head chef after six years of working under Hartnett

2017 Serves the wryly named ‘Whatever The Weather’ starter at a banquet celebrating 140 years of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, having showcased her talents on the BBC’s Great British Menu

2018 Opens Hicce – her own “wood-fired dining experience” – in central London

Pip Lacey’s sea bream ceviche with samphire, citrus and Sancho pepper 

Robb Report’s Culinary Masters 2018 focus goes out as a tribute to one of its leading protagonists, Andrew Fairlie, who has stepped down from his Gleneagles restaurant after revealing he has a terminal brain tumour. We wish him strength and comfort during this difficult time. – Nick Scott, Editor, Robb Report UK

Look out for Part III of the series on Tuesday 2nd January


More Dining