How We Met: Angela Hartnett & Hardeep Singh Kohli

'When she comes to dinner she eats everything, which is astonishing when you think who she is'
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Angela Hartnett, 40, is an award-winning chef and protégée of Gordon Ramsay. She was chef-patron at The Connaught until last year, and recently opened both the restaurant Murano, and the boutique hotel and restaurant York & Albany, in Camden Town. She lives alone in London.

I met Hardeep when I was doing Hell's Kitchen about five years ago with Gordon Ramsay. James Dreyfus was one of the contestants and his partner at the time brought Hardeep. I thought Hardeep was very funny – and I've always liked funny guys. He's also kind and demonstrative; he'll always give you a hug and a kiss and send you a touching text.

Recently we've seen each other a lot – he's come to Murano to eat and I've gone round to his. And now that the Arsenal season is starting again, we'll probably see even more of each other. He's a season-ticket holder and he'll often ring me up on Saturday to say he's going to the football and to invite me along.

My time-keeping is awful. I once went to a Champions League match with Hardeep and I was incredibly late. You're not allowed to go in without a season-ticket holder and when I turned up I was so late there wasn't the usual huge crowd of people – just Hardeep waiting there for me in his pink turban. I nearly had heart failure running up the road. If that had been anyone else, like my brother, they would have gone ballistic at me. But Hardeep was really calm and told me to catch my breath and that it was all fine.

I'm always late for everything. Chefs usually are – Gordon Ramsay is pretty late and I'm even later. My mum says it's bad manners and ignorance and she's right. Timing is essential to cooking, and so work-wise I'm always pushing for things to be on time – but when I leave the kitchen it's a different matter.

Food is a big part of my friendship with Hardeep. He's a great cook and does this stunning pork dish with chorizo and a broad bean salad. He's also made me this fantastic Scottish dessert, like a trifle with cream and raspberries, but also with porridge. It sounds awful, but it's delicious.

My friends don't worry about cooking for me – and it would be very rude on my part to look down on anything. I'm not snobby about food; I'll happily eat a crisp sandwich with the next person. When you're going round to someone's house what you want is hospitality – and Hardeep is incredibly hospitable. He makes great cocktails like mojitos and caipirinhas, which I'd never had before I went round to his. I'd never fanny around making cocktails. I always think, "Sod it, they can have wine."

Hardeep Singh Kohli, 39, is a Scottish writer and broadcaster whose shows include £50 Says You'll Watch This, Meet The Magoons and In Search of the Tartan Turban. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

Angela is appallingly late for everything. It's got to the point where I've had to take drastic action: we had a dinner party a couple of weeks ago and everyone else was told to come at eight and she was told to come at 7.30. She still turned up at 8.15.

That might sound a bit mean and actually I don't really mind. I've always thought there are two reasons for her lateness. First, all her energy goes into micro-managing the timing of individual dishes but the macro-managing of time she's not quite as good at.

Second, she struggles to say no to people, although I must admit that she's getting better at it. She's started to say no to me, which I think is good. But I'm so grateful for the time we get together; I know that to meet me she's had to leave someone else early and she'll probably be late for someone else.

We have very good friends in common and she's been a great support and a friend to me and it's enough for me to know that she's there. I know that, when she's late, she's not somewhere with a cocktail in one hand and a snack in the other thinking "Sod it, I'll let him wait."

My two children adore Angela. My son has managed to wangle a job at her new place in Camden just by talking her into it and making her laugh. She's got a tremendous sense of family – I think that's the Italian in her. She was brought up by her grandmother after her father died and the way she speaks about her brother and sister, it makes me feel like she's part of my extended family, too.

When she comes round for dinner she eats her food – everything, no matter how good or bad it is – which is astonishing when you think about who she is. She is so appreciative of someone else cooking for her, and the effort and thought that's gone into it. My cooking has changed a lot since I've known her – I use half the ingredients I used to; it's the mark of a very confident chef that you don't hide behind a quagmire of flavours.

Some people have said that Angela's new restaurant, Murano, doesn't reflect her personality, but it's the food on the plate that matters – not the décor. And if you're paying more attention to the décor than you are to what's on your plate, you've missed the point entirely.

Hardeep Singh Kohli is a judge of this year's Man Booker Prize. The winner will be announced on 14 October. For more information: www.themanbookerprize.com

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