Former Masterchef contestant takes over kitchen at Northampton village pub

Ondine Hartgroves has taken over at the Live & Let Live pub in Harpole.
Ondine Hartgroves has taken over at the Live & Let Live pub in Harpole.
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A former Masterchef contestant is bidding to turn a previously drink-only Northampton pub into a gastronomic destination after taking over at the helm.

Duston woman Ondine Hartgroves made it to the final 20 of the BBC amateur cook competition in 2011 when she worked in a call centre.

The Live & Let Live pub in Larkhall Lane, Harpole.

The Live & Let Live pub in Larkhall Lane, Harpole.

But though she was knocked out in the quarter finalist, she has since forged a career in the kitchen and is currently a finalist in the Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2016/2017 ‘chef of the year’ category.

Now the 43-year-old has transformed the Live and Let Live pub in Harpole by introducing its first food menu in more than 20 years, in what she says is a dream come true.

She said: “I used to live in the village and have always said if I was ever to take over a pub it would be the Live and Let Live – now here I am.

“I’ve always had a love of cooking and it’s a dream come true to be able to share my flavour combinations and experiment with fresh, local produce in my very own pub.”

Mrs Hartgroves runs the pub’s kitchen entirely on her own and changes the menu every week, if not daily. She also makes everything from scratch, including spice blends, pastes, sauces and preserves.

She added: “Cooking is my passion and I pride myself on delivering exceptional dining experiences to every customer that visits. The beauty behind my menu is its pragmatic nature – it’s constantly changing depending on what’s fresh or seasonal – and the customers keep coming back for more.”

Recent menu highlights include stuffed sea bass with walnuts, lemon and sumac, served on a cous cous salad with pomegranate dressing; lamb broth with seasonal vegetables and sirloin steak with a salsa verde and dauphine potatoes.