1 Michelin Star Chefs: Ruth Rogers, chef patron, River Café

The  Staff Canteen

Ruth Rogers is the chef patron of River Café, the one Michelin-starred restaurant on Thames Wharf in London.

Ruth Rogers CBE was born in upstate New York and moved to London in 1967 to study design at the London College of Printing (now London College of Communication). A few years later, she met her husband, the late architect Lord Richard Rogers (1933-2021),

River Cafe

River Café Interior

Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, London W6 9HA

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 12:00 pm to 11:30 pm

Sunday 12:00pm to 5:30pm

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7386 4200

Website: www.rivercafe.co.uk

Email: [email protected]

Head chefs: Sian Wyn Owen and Joseph Trivelli

Restaurant manager: Charles Pullan

Head sommelier: Christophe Decoux

Sommelier: Milena Di Francisco

Twitter: @RiverCafeLondon

Instagram: @rivercafelondon

Facebook: therivercafelondon

Biography

In 1987, after travelling to France and Italy, where she discovered the countries' rich food cultures, Ruth was inspired to open a canteen with her close friend Rose Gray.

At the time, River Café only served food to the staff of Lord Rogers’ architectural company, eventually opening to the public and becoming one of the best Italian restaurants in the UK.

Both being self-taught female cooks, they were part of a slight minority in the culinary world at the time, inspiring them to hire and nurture a diverse workforce.

In 2020, Ruth was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to the culinary arts and charity. This award follows an MBE awarded in 2010.

Sogliola al Forno

River Café

The restaurant, situated in Hammersmith, became renowned for its simple Italian cooking, giving utmost care to humble ingredients to make them shine.

Ruth and Rose went on to write The River Café Cookbook and present the 1998 Channel 4 programme “The Italian Kitchen.” Their books have since sold over a million copies.

River Café was awarded its first Michelin star in 1998 and still holds a star to this day.

Both chefs were awarded an MBE in 2010 for services to hospitality.

Sadly, Ruth’s business partner Rose Gray passed away in 2010 after a battle with cancer. Ruth decided to continue to run The River Café in her memory.

The main dining room is light and there is a riverside terrace for those who wish to dine outside. There is also a private dining room that seats up to eighteen people.

The hugely successful restaurant has been a training ground for many of the capital's best chefs, including Theo Randall, Ed Baines and celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

In an interview with The Guardian in 2017, when the restaurant celebrated its 30th anniversary, Ruth said that she believes the reason why they’ve never received a second is because they use paper tablecloths.

“But these are brilliant," she explained.

“Kids draw on them. We would never get rid of them. It’s part of who we are. Also, it’s clean. It’s so beautifully clean. I really like attention to detail. I like places to be beautifully clean.”

Food Style

The River Café changes its menu daily. Ruth’s love for Italian cuisine comes from her late husband’s family, as Richard Rogers’ mother came from Trieste, one of Italy's most affluent regions.

Ruth’s signature dishes at River Café include a wild mushroom risotto and rich Italian desserts like the chocolate ‘Nemesis’ cake. The menu always highlights the very best of seasonal produce.

Podcast

In 2021, Ruth launched a podcast called River Café Table 4, in which she interviews The River Café's most famous guests, discussing their stories and relationships with food. 

Guests on the podcasts have included cookbook author and TV presenter Nigella Lawson, Sir Michael Caine CBE, Emily Blunt, Sir Paul McCartney, Jeff Goldblum, and even former US president Al Gore.

Takeaway

Ruth told The Times that when UK restaurants were mandated to lock down in March 2020, she had a plan in place to switch to a delivery model.

Starting small, initially delivering dry ingredients and tomato sauce cooked and prepared in Ruth's home in Chelsea, they were eventually sending River Café food products and homeware all over the world, keeping it up even after reopening.

Videos with Ruth Rogers:

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 26th January 2022

1 Michelin Star Chefs: Ruth Rogers, chef patron, River Café