NEW VIDEO: 'It was a dream come true for me and something I'll cherish for the rest of my life'

The  Staff Canteen

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Simon Rogan is the next LaFont featured chef, he talks to the staff canteen about the UMBEL restaurant group, his team and his three-Michelin-starred restaurant L’Enclume.

Included in the UMBEL group are a number of restaurants. The flagship of the brand is L'Enclume. In the 20 years since opening L'Enclume, they have opened two more restaurants in the Lake District; Rogan & Company, and Henrock, along with 16 letting rooms in Cartmel, a retail shop, and a very extensive farm.

Along with that, the group also has an at-home delivery and retail wing which goes all over the UK, and there is also restaurant Aulis, in London, and then three restaurants in Hong Kong: Roganic, another Aulis and The Baker & The Bottleman.

The company employs 170 people in Cartmel with a further 30 to 40 staff outside of Cumbria.

Cartmel farm - credit Cristian Barnett

Prioritising and Splitting his time

When asked about how he manages his time with that many restaurants all over the world Simon said: “Right now, I am predominately in Cartmel. I have regular jaunts down to London but Aulis being a small eight-seater, run by a very good team down there - I have to travel less to London these days. There's no Roganic because we shut Roganic. Obviously, I can't get to Hong Kong [due to covid restrictions] but I’m planning to head there very soon.

“One thing about Covid, it's had a bit of a silver lining for me where I've literally been in Cartmel for two years and I've not really done that since 2011. That was when we opened our first Roganic version in London and since then I've seemed to be tearing around the UK and around the world and doing all these different things and not spending a sustained amount of time in Cartmel.”

He added: “Covid brought that. I really enjoyed it, and it made me realise why I fell in love with the Lake District in the first place - Cartmel is my home and that is where I spend the majority of the time.”

L'Enclume Duck - credit Cristian Barnett

The future

While Simon might not be jetting off around the world that doesn’t mean the business won’t be expanding into new places, with new ideas.

"I'm very lucky to have Tom Barnes on this arm and Oli Marlow on the other arm," explained Simon. "They're two of the most talented chefs I've ever worked with, and they are the future of the company. Working alongside them is Paul Burgaleries, L'Enclume's head chef, who is also a significant and integral part of the team.

"They are headed by Sam Ward, my MD. He's very young, very ambitious. I've got the company to a certain stage; I've got my accolades and now they want to drive the financial. There are vicious and ambitious plans for the future. With those guys at the helm pushing it forward I see a very fruitful and prosperous time for the company."

credited to Nina Claridge Photography

Three stars at L’Enclume

When asked about what it felt like to achieve three Michelin stars at L’Enclume, Simon said: “It was a relief. I think we'd been a favourite to get three stars ever since we had two. I know the reasons why we haven't done that, and you have to be respectful of where you are and what it takes. I wasn't ready, obviously, and the standards weren't good enough. But it's every chef's ambition, everyone dreams about achieving that ultimate status. It was a dream come true for me and something I'll cherish for the rest of my life.”

He also praised his team saying: “The confidence throughout the team and the love they have for the product, everyone is 100 percent head over heels in love with what they do here. And I think that shows in the product and we would walk over hot coals for each other.

"The last two years the standards have been just incredible. We felt that the momentum was building, that if we carry on the way we are then surely it will come and thankfully this year was our year.

“I would have hoped for it to have come a bit sooner. But, like I say, you've got to go through a journey, and I think we're better equipped now as a three-star restaurant to stand up for what it means than we probably would have been five/six years ago."

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th August 2022

NEW VIDEO: 'It was a dream come true for me and something I'll cherish for the rest of my life'

IN ASSOCIATION WITH