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Cook Books News

I’m not joshin’ – Rogan gets top marks from Good Food Guide

Okay – as the name suggests, for anyone who’s not been here before, we do cookery courses. But every now and then, you just have to sit back, pull up a chair and let the professionals get on with it.

One chef who’s been steadily emerging over the last few years, under the radar for anyone who’s not an avid follower of the UK cookery industry, is Simon Rogan. Name ring a bell?
Well, if you watched this year’s Great British Menu, he was the guy who could have seriously won three out of the four courses for the grand meal for the stars of athletics, past and present, ahead of this year’s Olympics.

In the end, it was his dessert course that not only won him plaudits from the glittering cast of British athletic hopefuls and legends alike, but left Oliver, Matthew and Pru speechless during the qualifying rounds and the final. So if that didn’t shout his intention to the cookery world enough, his latest accolade screams it at the world of cuisine at a decibel-bustin’ pitch.

Top marks for Rogan in the year’s Good Food Guide.

It’s not very often that a restaurant scores ten out of ten from The Good Food Guide. In fact, it is so rare an award that in the fifteen years of the tome’s publication, only seven chefs have ever managed to achieve it.

Rogan’s restaurant, L’Enclume, features second in this year’s guide to the only other restaurant in the last six years to win the award, Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in Berkshire. Many, many experts are predicting that next year, duck will be on the second course with L’Enclume taking the prime podium spot, dethroning Blumenthal for the first time in six years in the process.

The secret of Rogan’s success is his deep faith in locally-sourced, Cumbrian produce. The extent he went to in order to source the rosehips that would end up as a delicate syrup for his Great British Menu winning dessert was unlike any venture undertaken on the show to date. He even hired a local trekker to keep his eye out for the likely spot where the plumpest rosehips would grow that would be cultivated for the final offering. They even sat down and boiled them up on the hillside where they grew to get the essence of what they’d taste like if the local scenery could be emulated on a plate.

And that was not just a publicity-hype for the show, either. Simon has leased a local farm and intensified production upon it to deliver the amazing locally foraged and cultivated ingredients at the heart of his dishes to guarantee continuity – now that’s taking cooking seriously!

And that determination and faith in the ingredients (almost) on his doorstep has been justly repaid, with interest.

And there’s more. All of Simon’s recipes are put through the mill at his experimental kitchen before they even make it to L’Enclume. Do you remember the ingenious technique of making the ‘snow’ for his dessert in the Great British Menu? Well Simon invests in new technology, new thinking and mixing up tradition to deliver the freshest – in every sense of the word – meals you could find in the UK today.

Simon Rogan – remember the name. Along with Blumaenthal, Ramsay and Pierre-White, whom he trained under, Rogan has joined an elite class of chefs to be awarded ten out of ten by the Good Food Guide. At the tender age of forty-four, there’s a lot more Rogan can bring to the table, and no doubt he surely will.

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Cookery Class News

Marco Pierre White sets out on Knorr-tical world cruise

We have written before about Marco Pierre White and his amazing rise to fame as a teenager, through to his hands-on apprenticeship to the renowned chef we know and love from the reality cooking shows such as Hell’s Kitchen and The Chopping Board to Australian Masterchef, whereupon he set his own challenge.

The fifty-year-old chef, more recently prominent on our screens promoting Knorr stock cubes, is to go on a world tour giving cookery courses on the same, teaching budding chefs across the planet how to integrate them into their own recipes.

The father of four, who famously renounced his three Michelin-star awards when he gave up the nitty-gritty of cookery in the very practical sense as a restaurateur – despite being the youngest ever chef to get a hat-trick of said awards – jets off to Singapore for the first three day stint. The trip will serve a dual purpose: promoting the stock cubes and unveiling the brand new Chefmanship Centre, brought to us by Unilever Food Solutions’.

From there, he will also be appearing at the World Gourmet Summit where he will be giving live cookery demonstrations using the stock cubes as the base of his own recipes. It really should be a treat as Pierre White will also be including in the live cookery class how other herbs and spices can be used to compliment or counteract the tantalising tastes that the Knorr cubes and cooking sauces deliver.

Be inventive and creative in the kitchen to create your signature dish

This is a theory that the young Michelin man thinks sets good chefs apart; having had such successes in the past, who are we to argue? He truly believes that chefs need to get ‘inventive and creative’ in the kitchen to give their dishes that distinct signature that sets them apart, yet hold on to the nature of the meal they are preparing without compromising their own precarious position when meddling with the classics, especially if things go horribly wrong.

It’s for this reason cookery courses are so important – you may think you have a dish licked, but without advise of experience, how do you know if you’ve been successful?  Well, apart from licked dishes, of course.

Someone else who has enjoyed success thanks to Knorr is Peter Joyner, Elior UK’s food development director. He recently came first from five in the UK division of Knorr’s recipe competition, Blue Dragon. His experience in the Far East will be altogether different as, rather than host the cookery courses, he will be a student in Bangkok and Phuket (hard life these chefs have got) as he travels to Thailand next month to indulge of masterclasses of the highest order to help develop his own culinary prowess.

Pierre White will return to Australia after his jaunt to MasterChef last year, but this time his sole intention is to continue to promote the Knorr stock cubes and not, this time, to see what the best chefs from down under can do for one of his cooking lesson challenges.

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Cookery Class News

Masterclass in cooking apprenticeship

Learning to cook, in a way that will endorse recognition of your skill, is not easy. Even the very best acknowledge the work involved, from day one, to achieve greatness in the kitchen.

Marco Pierre White recently visited Greene King brewery to relate tales of his initial struggle for success, going from cleaning shoes, borrowing 50p bus fare from his father, a chef himself, to begin his illustrious career at the best restaurant in London. For the nine apprentices involved in the Greene King cookery course, this was a master class of the highest order.

Let your passion drive you

If you start to let questions like ‘what will my wages be?’ or ‘what are the hours?’ stand in your way, your probably not going to make it.
True greatness comes from focus of the job in hand, letting that be your only concern. That’s difficult to get your head around with the way the economy is stacked against that philosophy, but dedication will out. Sacrifices are called for every step of the way on the ladder to mastering the kitchen.

Class on your doorstep

When you’re first starting out, the road ahead seems long and tortuous – whatever aspects you can tick off your ‘to do’ sheet in the early stages is crucial to success.
Two of the key elements to establish this positive outlook are find the right establishment, and make it local:

    1. if the restaurant you’re working for is renowned, they will only employ top chefs in order to uphold their reputation, so you will be learning to cook from the best.
    2. having the establishment on your doorstep allows flexibility, not necessarily having to rely on transport (cutting your outgoings) and being able to get there in a flash if needed.

Forget the past – this is a new dawn

Hands-on experience is great, but you also need qualifications if you aspire to making it on your own, one day.
Once you’ve positioned yourself as best you can, see if the employer will allow you to go on day release to college, or has tailored cookery courses of their own which they’ll actively encourage you to attend.
This is where it goes back to your flexibility and willingness – if you show them talent and determination, they will do what they can to ensure you realise your potential as an investment in their business.

Get instant gratification and feedback

Great cooking is one of the few jobs where you can be judged there and then. If you’ve prepared a wonderful meal, your critics will let you know by what’s left on the plate.
Feedback is as important as any inherited skill – it not only can build your confidence, but also provides pointers as to where your own strengths lie in the cooking industry.

It’s all give and take

Cooks develop over time, picking up different styles from the variety of chefs for whom they’ll work.

Once you’re established, it will be your turn to become the Yoda to your own Jedis. Use your force to pass down what you have learnt on the way to success.

Cooking is very much a two way street and definitely a 9-5 career. Food is a marvellous tool to allow you to be creative and instantly impress your employers and your clients, alike.

With hard work, flexibility and an inner determination to succeed, ignoring the naysayers but accepting constructive criticism as it comes, you will succeed and be able to provide a masterclass of your own.