Simon Rogan talks to The Staff Canteen about cooking for the 2017 AA Hospitality Awards

The  Staff Canteen

As well as the return of Roganic, opening Aulis London and running his many other businesses including two Michelin-starred L'Enclume - Simon Rogan is also creating the menu for this year's AA Hospitality Awards.

Simon, Proprietor of Umbel Restaurant Group, joined the AA Restaurant Guide’s hall of fame when he was announced as the Chef of the Year at the 2016 Hospitality Awards but with that privilege comes the pressure of cooking for 1200 people at the annual event as he is set to do in just six days!

AA Chef of the Year 2016  Simon Rogan
Simon Rogan - AA Chef of the Year 2016

Last year the menu was created and cooked by Daniel Clifford and his team from two Michelin-starred Midsummer House…no pressure Simon!

“I am feeling good and relaxed actually,” said Simon on cooking this year’s dinner at Grosvenor House. “I will give it my all as always and try to do the best I can besides I know a little of what to expect after cooking The Cateys last year. Nigel (Boschetti) has a great team and although they are big numbers they make it sort of fun to do.”

Simon is keeping his cards close to his chest when it comes to this year’s dishes saying: “Sorry, secrecy is of the utmost and will ruin the surprise!”

He added: “But obviously, I reflected on my previous experience and hope I have come up with a menu that will be easy to deliver for so many guests - tasty and consistent.”

Delivering 1200 ‘tasty and consistent’ meals is no mean feat and Simon and his team have already done multiple tastings.

“When it came to choosing the menu, I carefully thought of all the consequences and was fairly easy to write. Obviously, for such a prestigious event, nothing is left to chance so there have been multiple tests and tastings of which I think the team at the AA are quite happy with.”

And he  won’t just be handing the reins over to his team on the night, he will be firmly in the kitchen!

aynsome salad, L'Enclume
Aynsome Salad, L'Enclume

“Unfortunately, I won’t be sitting down to enjoy the night, I will be well and truly in the thick of it with some of my boys. That is testament to the fantastic team that Nigel has at Grosvenor House that we won’t have as many of my guys in the kitchen this time around.”

When Simon was crowned the AA Restaurant Guide 2017 Chef of the Year he told The Staff Canteen: "It's amazing to be awarded this from this room of talent. It's an award I'll cherish for the rest of my life."

Now he has had a year for it to sink in and said: “It’s been a massive honour to have joined the list of previous winners, there are some massive names there, a real who’s who and I feel quite humbled to be on the list with them.”

There has been no shortlist announced for this year’s Chef of the Year so it’s anyones guess as to who will be taking the title from Simon (and cooking next year’s banquet!) but we were interested to know who he would like to see join him on the elite list?

He said: “Blimey, that’s a tough question with so many amazing cooks out there that would be worthy candidates, I have to sit on the fence with the fear of not wanting to upset anyone!”

The AA Awards is one of the most anticipated social events in the hospitality calendar, and Simon believes it’s unwavering popularity is down to the AA’s ‘dedication to our craft’.

“The AA awards is one of the premier dates that everyone within our industry looks for annually,” he explained. “Its always a glittering occasion attended by the very best in our industry and rightfully so because of the AA’s absolute dedication to our craft and the support it provides to all. I feel very privileged for what the AA have bestowed on me over the years and thank them for the massive part they have played on my particular journey.”

As well as organising a meal for 1200 of the great and the good in hospitality this year, Simon is also dedicating his time to the return of Roganic and the opening of Aulis London on October 10.

He said: “Things are going great and an announcement will be made quite soon!”

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th September 2017

Simon Rogan talks to The Staff Canteen about cooking for the 2017 AA Hospitality Awards