Overall ranking: 88 (NEW ENTRY)
Chef ranking: 30 (NEW ENTRY)
Simon Rogan - Snapshot
Simon Rogan is the chef-proprietor of fine-dining restaurant-with-rooms L'Enclume and English brasserie Rogan and Company, both in Cartmel, Cumbria, as well as the 35-seat Roganic in London's Marylebone.
Simon Rogan's career started with an apprenticeship under Paul Norman at Rhinefield House Hotel in the New Forest, before he went on to work for Jean-Christophe Novelli on and off for eight years at restaurants such as Geddes in Southampton, Nansidwell House Hotel in Falmouth and Floyd's pub near Totnes. During these formative years he also worked for the likes of Marco Pierre White and John Burton Race, before spending two years in Paris at Lucas Carton restaurant.
In 1999 he took on the head chef role at newly opened Adlington Palace in Croydon, a position he held for two years before leaving to launch a solo career funded by his own savings and a bank loan. When two potential premises in Brighton both fell through, he overcame his reservations about working far from London and took the leasehold on a half-renovated former smithy in Cartmel, in the southern Lake District.
In late 2002 L'Enclume opened its doors, with Rogan's Á¼ber-modern French cooking quickly making waves, particularly for his use of herbs that had fallen out of favour in kitchens. A switch to offering just tasting menus didn't put people off, and the site grew to become a destination restaurant among foodies. As well as winning a Michelin star in 2005, L'Enclume is currently one of only seven restaurants to hold five AA rosettes, was named fourth place restaurant in the Good Food Guide 2011 with a score of 8/10 and was named Best UK Restaurant by Square Meal in 2010.
In 2008 he launched his second restaurant, Rogan and Company, a more casual brasserie, also in Cartmel, while 2009 saw the takeover of an organic farm to supply produce to the two restaurants and the opening of his kitchen research facility Aulis.
In June 2011 Rogan's much-mooted return south was finally realised when he took over a two-year lease on a site in Marylebone, London, opening the 35-seat Roganic. Like L'Eclume, the restaurant only serves tasting menus, and because of temporary lease, has been publicised as an extended pop-up restaurant.
Simon Rogan - What we think
Billed by some as the Heston Blumenthal of the north-west - a label he isn't completely comfortable with ("it pisses me off to be called the poor man's Heston," he told Caterer in 2010) - Rogan's boundary-pushing cuisine has built a legion of fans over the last eight years. His use of 40 types of herb, plus his vast array of equipment and cooking methods have created a unique and highly distinguishable cuisine.
As a testament to L'Enclume's popularity, while Cartmel offered little in the way of top-end restaurants before Rogan's arrival, his initial 40-cover, seven-bedroomed business, which employed five staff upon opening, has grown to two 50- and 100-cover restaurants with 12 rooms, which now employ 35 staff; and a separate research kitchen. Factor in his recent opening Roganic, and Rogan's influence now also spans England.
His accolades put him in the very upper echelons of chefs working in the UK at present, while his brave decision to set up so far from London has been vindicated, and sets a worthy example to chefs who feel they must gravitate to the capital when going it alone.
Rogan has also proved an excellent mentor over the years, and in 2011 his head chef Mark Birchall walked away with the prestigious Roux Scholarship.
While his move to London is, as it stands, for just a two-year window, Rogan must know that his food has a strong market in the capital, and so long as he can juggle the demands of operating two restaurants 270 miles apart, Londoners will be hoping that he sticks around beyond 2013.