Simon Rogan, one of Britain’s most celebrated chefs, played host at our most recent Chef Eats Out event, run in association with Udale Speciality Foods. Amanda Afiya reports on an exclusive industry-only lunch at Fera at Claridge’s
It’s autumn 2013 and speculation is rife in kitchens up and down the country – who is going to take over the running of the iconic dining room at Claridge’s, where Gordon Ramsay’s turnover-busting, award-winning restaurant has strutted its stuff for an incredible 12 years? So when news finally broke in November of that year that the lavish Mayfair hotel had gone into partnership with the two-Michelin-starred, treble-Catey-winning Simon Rogan, Fera at Claridge’s immediately became the hottest ticket in town.
Speaking to The Caterer at the time, Rogan admitted: “Ever since Gordon Ramsay announced that he was leaving Claridge’s, I secretly hoped I would get a call. It’s a massive challenge, but it’s a very slick, world-class operation, and I’m sure it will make me a better person and a better operator. They’ll certainly keep me on my toes.”
Of course, everyone hoped that Fera would have L’Enclume’s DNA running through it, and Rogan set about creating a team, kitchen and dining room that showcased his unique and often unparalleled sourcing of ingredients and his breathtaking cuisine.
It was therefore a real privilege for 80 readers to enjoy an exclusive opportunity to sample Rogan’s food when The Caterer joined forces with Udale Speciality Foods for our most recent Chef Eats Out event in April.
Guests were greeted on arrival with a glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne in Fera’s handsome dining room, and Rogan and his team then went on to delight the diners with seven stunning courses, beginning with the famous ‘snacks’ – stewed rabbit with lovage; seaweed bread, scallop, alexanders; sole, fennel and chicken skin; and Tunworth with duck hearts.
For Rob Kirby, chef-director at Lexington Catering, the snacks ensured the lunch got off to the finest of starts: “They were clean, innovative and truly beautiful to eat,” he enthused. “I would have been happy with a big plate of all of them!”
“If I had to choose only one dish out of the 10 individual elements that we tasted that day,” interjected Hayden Groves, executive chef at BaxterStorey, “then the Tunworth and duck hearts had me at hello… delicious!”
Hayden Groves and Rob Kirby
Tunworth with duck hearts
The snacks, which came out fast and furious from Fera’s enviable, ergonomic kitchen, were followed by roasted scallop, black salsify, turnip and horseradish and a dish that comprised three pickled kohlrabi wontons filled with carefully sourced cubes of raw loin of veal, served in a soup of apple and kohlrabi.
The fourth course – caramelised Hispi cabbage in ale cream, Fowey mussels and toasted sunflower seeds – proved a real hit with diners.
Catey chef Nigel Boschetti, executive head chef of the Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel, said: “The minimalist elegance of the dining room was the perfect backdrop to the simple yet complex and beautifully presented tasting dishes.
“It’s almost impossible to single out a favourite dish, but the Tunworth with duck hearts was definitely up there and, for me, the caramelised Hispi cabbage with Fowey mussels was a particular standout dish with the sweetness of the caramelised Hispi and ale cream complementing the perfectly cooked mussels.”
Meanwhile, the fifth course, dry-aged Herdwick hogget, white asparagus, onion, ramson and sheep’s milk, was deemed a “triumph” by Kirby.
Dry-aged Herdwick hogget, white asparagus, onion, ramson and sheep’s milk
Stewed rabbit with lovage
Groves, who has long admired Rogan’s near-obsessive search for flavour and his “creative, yet rustic” style of food, said: “I was fortunate to visit Fera on its soft launch in April 2014. Like so many of the chefs there that day, I was blown away – the detail that Simon puts into his food was replicated only by the finish of the kitchen. All the details were well thought out, including work surface heights to aid dressing the small dishes omnipresent across the menu. The organic style of crockery really sets off his food and complemented the dining room perfectly.
“I vowed then to return, but it took a little longer than planned, so the first Chef Eats Out for a few years was the perfect opportunity. The kitchen that had left its lasting impression on me previously was still pristine, with rotary evaporators spinning and distilling in the background. Flavours that I had sampled that night were heightened by eating in the dining room with great company. The snacks were a huge hit and the stewed rabbit with lovage that had been enjoyed standing in the kitchen two years before were met by a collective chorus of enjoyment – it’s no wonder that they can’t take it off the menu!”
A buckwheat cream with verjus and stout preceded the perfect conclusion to the lunch, of Douglas Fir custard, Goldrush apple and meadowsweet, beautifully highlighting yet more of Britain’s finest produce, which Rogan so passionately promotes, before the dining chefs disappeared into the kitchen to learn more about the magic of Fera.
Buckwheat cream, verjus, stout
Douglas Fir custard, Goldrush apple, meadowsweet
A message from our sponsor
Udale Speciality Foods was delighted to sponsor Chef Eats Out at Fera at Claridge’s.
Simon Rogan’s committed approach to sourcing matches our own ethos for finding the finest produce from the UK and delivering quality products that chefs can rely on.
We take pride in our direct connection with farmers, especially in Cumbria, the home of Simon’s two-Michelin-starred flagship restaurant, L’Enclume, where some of the best lamb and beef is sourced for use across the country.
Udale is a family business, founded by our great grandfather at the turn of the last century, and it works hard to constantly develop and improve its services and product ranges by working with existing and future customers to meet and exceed their expectations.
The creation of our Himalayan salt ageing chamber last year, which helps to deliver a beautifully intense flavour to meat, is one such example of our dedication to extending our offering.
Roasted scallop, black salsify, turnip, horseradish
- Stewed rabbit with lovage
- Seaweed bread, scallop, alexanders
- Sole, fennel and chicken skin
- Tunworth with duck hearts
- Roasted scallop, black salsify, turnip, horseradish
- Raw veal with oyster, apple, kohlrabi
- Caramelised Hispi cabbage in ale cream, Fowey mussels, toasted sunflower seeds
- Dry-aged Herdwick hogget, white asparagus, onion, ramson and sheep’s milk
- Buckwheat cream, verjus, stout
- Douglas Fir custard, Goldrush apple, meadowsweet
- Laurent Perrier NV Champagne
- Roccamonfina Falanghina, Masseria Starnali, Campania 2014
- Comte Tolosan, Chateau Plaisance, South West France 2014
- San Pascual Extract Coffee, Santa Barbara Estate, Colombia
Recipe: raw veal with oyster, apple, fresh kohlrabi juice and apple marigold
This dish is served on the tasting and à la carte menus. It’s a starter of veal and oyster in kohlrabi wonton wrappers in a warm juice-broth.
Blast-freeze a loin of rose veal until just frozen. Cube it and season with salt, Tabasco and virgin rapeseed oil.
Boil native oysters in their shells for 20 seconds and then cool, shuck and dice. Make a separate emulsion with 12 oysters, 60g egg white, 120g rapeseed oil and lemon juice.
Fill three pickled kohlrabi wontons with about 40g veal, diced oyster and ½ tsp of emulsion per wonton. Seal to form parcels.
Plate in a soup bowl and pour the kohlrabi apple juice around them. Finish with apple marigold sprigs.
Video: An audience with Simon Rogan