Flash-grilled: Neradah Hartnett

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Neradah Hartnett executive pastry chef for London-based pub and hotel group Cubitt House on learning from criticism

Related tags Cubitt House Pub & bar Restaurant Pastry chef

The executive pastry chef for London-based pub and hotel group Cubitt House on the best drink to pair with mince pies, her first industry job, and learning from criticism.

What was your first industry job?
I started as a waitress in a small beach café in Tutukaka in Northland New Zealand. It wasn’t for another six years that I got my first kitchen job at Antoines in Auckland, a fine dining silver service restaurant.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I’d be working outdoors, maybe on a farm.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
My first head chef Tony Astle was a force to be reckoned with. He’d owned his own establishment and ran it for 48 years. He was an incredible and mostly self-taught chef, ahead of the trends. But he devoted his life to hospitality and championed the young people in his kitchen.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
People who turn off my oven timer, but don’t tell me it’s gone off.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
When I was a waitress a man complimented my watch to which I responded thanks it was a gift from my (then) husband. He immediately tensed up and blurted out ‘I have a wife too’, which was obvious as she was seated opposite him.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence
Natural.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Someone once described one of my menus as trying too hard.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Be a sponge, don’t be defensive to criticism and if someone wants to spend time teaching you then use that time wisely.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
My KitchenAid.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Fish and chips and stretchy white bread, all by the beach in New Zealand. 

À la carte or tasting menu?
À la carte.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
Everything I ate at Eleven Madison Park.

Favourite fast food joint?
None really – but if I have to choose, it would be Shake Shack.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Putting tahini in a cinnamon roll.

MasterChef ​or Great British Menu​?
Great British Menu.

Most over-rated food?
Cronuts.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?           
Texting or calling while at the table.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
My two sisters.

What’s your earliest food memory?
Rolling out gingerbread dough outside on the ground with my mum.

Twitter or Instagram?
Instagram.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Don’t like crowds, so either a quiet bar or just my own living room with a movie and a glass of wine.

Tipple of choice?
Red wine, something Australian.

Favourite food and drink pairing?
Mince pies with Pedro Ximénez.

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