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.