Angela Hartnett was born in Kent to Patrick Hartnett, an Irish sailor in the Merchant Navy and Giuliana, a Welsh mother whose parents had migrated from Bardi in Italy to the Welsh town of Ferndale. Her father died when she was eight years old. Her mother Giuliana moved the young family (older brother and younger sister) to Upminster to be closer to both sets of grandparents, where they were brought up by their Italian maternal grandmother whilst Giuliana worked long hours as a dinner lady and nanny. At 18 Hartnett went to Italy for a year to work as an au pair before graduating with a degree in History at Cambridge Polytechnic.
Starting relatively late in her chosen career path, she learnt on the job at a hotel in Cambridge, then at the Sandy Lane Hotel restaurant in Barbados.
In 1994, she returned to the UK, and undertook a one-day trial at Gordon Ramsay's first restaurant "Aubergine." Alongside Marcus Wareing, she worked six days a week alongside Ramsay for longer than the two weeks Wareing predicted – Ramsay called her a bitch occasionally, alongside his favoured name for her: Dizzy Lizzy. She supported Ramsay at Zafferano and L'Oranger, then joining Wareing as his sous chef at Petrus. After launching Amaryllis in Scotland with David Dempsey in 2001, Hartnett helped with the launch of Gordon Ramsay's Verre in Dubai.
In 2003, Hartnett won the 'Best Newcomer Award' and the Square Meal Guides’ BMW Best New Restaurant award for the two restaurants at The Connaught. In 2004 she netted her first Michelin star. In early 2007, she was awarded an MBE for Services to the Hospitality Industry. Also in 2007 she opened Cielo, a Ramsay Group restaurant in Boca Raton. She made her first television appearance in the first series of ITV1's Hell's Kitchen. In 2015, Angela took part in the final episode, and oversaw the final task for MasterChef UK.
Just before The Connaught Hotel closed in mid-2007, Hartnett published her first book "Cucina: Three Generations of Italian Family Cooking;"; while it was closed she was seen on BBC's Kitchen Criminals and Take On The Takeaway. Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd agreed to cease their contract with The Connaught Hotel in September 2007, and in August 2008 Hartnett launched Murano, a fine-dining Italian restaurant in Mayfair. Murano has subsequently been awarded one Michelin star and is the holder of 4 AA Rosettes.
Since then Angela Hartnett opened Cafe Murano, a more relaxed version of Murano in St James in November 2013 and a further site in Covent Garden in July 2015, alongside Pastificio, a deli-cafe, wine bar and modern pasta factory, making fresh pasta for the restaurants every four hours.
In 2013, Merchant's Tavern was also opened as the result of a collaboration between Hartnett, Neil Borthwick and Canteen founders Dominic Lake and Patrick Clayton-Malone.
From January to March 2016, Hartnett presented Tomorrow’s Food alongside Dara Ó Briain, Chris Bavin and Dr Shini Somara. The BBC One show looks at the cutting-edge technologies and produce appearing in farms, supermarkets, kitchens and restaurants around the world, and how this is transforming the way we grow, buy and eat our food.
Hartnett is in a relationship with Neil Borthwick, and lives in Spitalfields with her sister, in a house owned by Hartnett and her brother. She owns a Jack Russell called Alfie who she rescued from Battersea Dogs Home in 2007, and also has a Beagle named Otis who was previously owned by her sister. She spends a holiday every year in Bardi, the town from where most of the Welsh-based Italian families can trace their roots.