Smart Hospitality, which was set up last year by Greg Lawson and Robin Bidgood, took on the catering at Whitechapel at the end of last month. They now plan to work together with Hartnett and her head chef, Diego Cardoso, to develop the menu for the site.
“Angela will be involved at a consultancy level as we develop the menu. She’s currently working with our head chef Rod Thompson and the rest of the team to create and taste all the dishes,” said Bidgood, who was until recently the CEO of Tate Catering.
Whitechapel Gallery, a listed building located in east London, includes gallery and exhibition space as well as a 34-cover wood-panelled restaurant with its own street entrance, and a 12-cover private dining room
After Smart Hospitality took over from the previous caterers Vacherin on Christmas Eve, the dining room is expected to re-open on 15 January featuring its new menu.
The daily changing menu will have an emphasis on homely cooking using local ingredients.
Hartnett, who lives locally, said: “I love the Whitechapel Gallery and want us to serve the sort of food people really want to eat. I hope the Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room will become a firm favourite with gallery visitors and locals alike.”
Hartnett will consult for Smart hospitality on all areas of food, staffing and service at Whitechapel, while she continues to cook full time at Murano, the Michelin starred Mayfair restaurant she owns fully after buying out former mentor Gordon Ramsay earlier this year.
Starters will include dishes such as Peperonata on Toast and Whipped Goats Curd with Roasted Garlic, while mains will include Rabbit Pie with Tarragon and Cote de Boeuf with Caramelised Chicory. Puddings will range from a Warm Agen Prune Tart to a Pomegranate Blood Orange Salad with Handmade Shortbread.
Small dishes will be priced between £5-£8 and larger plates, which can be shared, will be priced between £10-£15.
“The intention is to offer great flexibility to guests of the restaurant; whether they want a quick bite or a leisurely lunch,” say the caterers.
The gallery space on the first floor also includes a 50-cover New York-style loft café, which will offer a range of sandwiches and snacks as well as a dish of the day. The café will also offer cakes and tea and coffee, and aims to be a less formal venue where gallery visitors and locals can relax.
The entire exhibition and gallery space can also be rented out for special events or cocktail parties, for which Smart Hospitality will also look after the catering.
“Whitechapel has 10-12 full time staff in the kitchen and dining room and in the café upstairs,” said Bidgood. “The kitchen has a team of four chefs, but when we cater for events we’ll also bring in our team from Smart’s production kitchens to help out.”
Smart Hospitality also looks after three other sites that operate for six weeks during the Christmas period, and also conduct special catering events throughout the year.
These are Battersea Evolution, Milton Keynes Evolution and Willows Farm in St Albans. The firm also conducts the catering at Kneller Hall for certain Twickenham rugby matches.