The Wordrobe talks putting ingredient obsession to paper with Simon Rogan, Michelin-starred chef of the iconic L’Enclume restaurant
Simon Rogan is a chef who shows no signs of slowing down. Over the course of 25 years, his distinctive British cooking style has led to awards, multiple Michelin stars and worldwide acclaim. Driven by passion, his obsession with using only the finest of fresh ingredients has now led to the next (quite literal) chapter.
The award-winning chef’s first book, Rogan: The Cookbook perfectly communicates his philosophy of using farmed and foraged seasonal ingredients to create unforgettable dishes. With chapters focusing on herbs, vegetables, meat, fish & seafood, dairy and fruit recipes, there’s a little something for everyone.
We spoke with Simon to learn more about his farm-to-plate ethos – as well as his tips for culinary success.
What inspired you to become a chef?
My father was a fruit and vegetable salesman so from an early age I had a fascination with markets, the fruit and veg and what you could do with them. Both my parents were working so I was pretty much left to my own devices when I got home from school.
I began to use the stuff my Dad got from work to regularly cook a family meal for when they got home, so you could say that period of my life influenced me greatly. And I really enjoyed doing it.
Where did you train? Tell us more about your culinary background…
Millbrook Community School, a state school on a council estate in Southampton. I worked part-time in a Greek restaurant from 14, and when I left school I got a full-time job there.
[Then] I went as an apprentice to Rhinefield, a country house hotel in the New Forest — the head chef had been at the Savoy. When I started there, I was at the bottom of the class. Pretty soon, I was at the top.
Who are your role models?
I’m a bit old for role models now but back in the day it would have been Marc Veyrat, Michel Bras and Louis Outhier
What’s your favourite autumn dish?
Baked Jerusalem Artichokes, Goats Cheese and truffle vinaigrette.
Tell us more about first cookbook! What inspired it?
I am obsessed with using the best possible ingredients, as the provenance and quality of these is what leads to fantastic dishes. I wanted to create a cookbook that celebrates this.
What does hospitality mean to you?
A warm welcome from start to finish regardless of where I am.
Name three of your top restaurants.
There are so many but I visited San Fransisco recently and loved Benu, Saisons, Manresa and Quince.
What advice would you offer to aspiring chefs?
Be prepared to work hard. Always take the time to learn as much as you can from others around you, and enjoy it. I’d also encourage young chefs to be patient, the best success comes through sheer dedication.
What does it take to achieve a Michelin star?
Passion, dedication and an excellent team.
What’s next on the cards?
Maybe some new openings for our group.