THE two Michelin-starred chef has finally released a cookbook. Claire Spreadbury gets hot in the kitchen asking him all about it.

When you first approach Simon Rogan, he doesn't seem especially friendly. He's a very busy man - part chef, part farmer, running multiple restaurants, gunning for more Michelin stars, setting up new establishments and barely home to chill and hang out with his family.

But the second you get him in a kitchen, his whole demeanour changes. He's instantly more at ease; chattier, jokier, and eager to get stuck in.

When we meet at Roganic - his latest venture, which turned from a temporary pop-up back in 2011 to a permanent restaurant that opened in January - he's about to launch his very first cookbook.

It's surprising he's never created a cookbook before. At the age of 50, with two Michelin stars for his best-restaurant-list-topping L'Enclume in the Lake District's Cartmel, you'd think he'd have a couple under his belt already.

"I was never really that bothered," he says with a shrug, turning some charred spring onions on the hot plate as he talks.

The kitchen is wonderfully calm, if a little boysy (the only females I encounter are upstairs in the restaurant). Head chef Oli Marlow (formerly of The Fat Duck) is preparing for lunch service, all sparkly-eyed and hair spiked.

Rogan is a grafter. And his passion for food - and farming - shines through with every word he utters. He's looking good, slightly trimmer than normal, which is down to him having a bit of a veganism stint.

"It doesn't really work, because of the tasting, but when I'm on my own I try to eat really healthily. There's a busy six months coming and I need to lose a bit of weight and keep fit. And I have loads of vegetables that need eating," he says, tapping his tummy, blue eyes lighting up.

"Last night, I fried some courgettes, peppers, mushrooms - I really love mushrooms - tomatoes, garlic, and I had a cheeky little bit of curry sauce left over, so I coated it all and just ate that. And I had water, not a gin and tonic."

Essentially it's "head down" until October, while he focuses on consistency at all of the restaurants (he has four in total), in the hope of a smattering of those all-important Michelin stars this autumn.

"I'm working all the time at the moment," he admits. "We've got ambitions on a third star at L'Enclume. I've made a lot of sacrifices since 2011 by doing other things elsewhere. I've had distractions. So this year, I thought we'd go for it. You've just got to do the best you can and be consistent. All the restaurants should be in the running this year, Rogan & Co, Roganic, but at least I've tried. It's the last thing I want to achieve."

And he's also in the process of setting up a new restaurant. It's still very hush-hush, but he accidentally reveals it should be all systems go this time next year - and somewhere in the Far East.

So why has it taken him until now to bring out a book, and what does he hope to achieve with it?

"I'd like to encourage more people to cook and grow their own veg," states the chef, slamming the worktop with passion. "I'd like to see more people eating less meat, so there's less cattle feeding on the wheat that could feed the starving.

"There's so much overproduction of beef to feed the world and our fast-food habits," he continues. "That's why I have stints of eating no meat whatsoever. I'm not a vegetarian, I enjoy meat, but I don't gorge on it like I used to. And I definitely feel better for it."

Rogan fiddles with a pair of giant silver tweezers as he chats, tapping them on the worktop sometimes as he thinks. He interrupts conversation to tell you something and doesn't seem like a patient man, yet he happily gives me over two hours of his time, showing me how to cook and plate his food.

We start with a simple tomato broth. And it is simple. Essentially, we're just assembling three tiny cubes of trout, radishes, beetroot, turnips and onions, before placing herbs, leaves and flowers on top, and then dousing it in a liquid form of tomato, which tastes utterly divine. I'm delicately placing marigold flowers and nasturtiums for about five minutes. In reality, this dish should be plated up in 30 seconds.

He feigns being impressed at my swirls of sweetcorn puree, which form the base for a gentle pan-fried sea bass, charred sweet corn and spring onion dish. And he happily tells me how his moreish truffle pudding is made from squashing down croissants.

It's very food-to-fork at all of Rogan's restaurants, and he's had to learn to farm as well as he can cook. How does it do it? "Ask Google," he bellows.

He tells me about the cauliflowers which turned red in the sun this year - apparently because they should have used the leaves to cover up the florets. He's full of knowledge and is happy to share it, but clearly enjoys learning more every day too. All the new starters at his restaurants - including waiting-on staff - spend time on the farm, so they understand the processes involved in the food they serve.

But the book, he seems a little apprehensive about. "I don't think it's what people will expect," he tells me, hands ruffling his beard stubble. He believes everyone will be expecting the coffee table L'Enclume tomb - which he will bring out another time - but this is a simplified version, using ingredients and combinations he's known for but in a way that's achievable for a home cook. After all, we want to be able to cook what's in the book, right?

And actually, as we flick through the unedited proof together, searching for the simplest recipes, he smirks as he tells me: "I don't think there's anything that simple, to be honest. But it is achievable."

He even reveals that every single dish photographed in the book wasn't made by him. He was there and gave some direction, but he didn't make it - it was a home economist brought in for the shoot. "I would have gone back into L'Enclume mode and served it like that, so we worked as a team to do this book, and I didn't plate any of them."

The book may not be what the world is expecting from Rogan - but it's exactly what we need. A little inspiration to grow more, cook at home, and take time over our food. So much of it can be raw or pickled. But if we all make a little start, we're helping the planet and our pockets all at the same time.


It's perfect for Friday nights in.

Who says a two Michelin-starred chef can't bung a cheese in oven and call it dinner?

"This is a delicious and simple way to enjoy this fantastic British cheese," says Simon Rogan. "All it needs is a few sprigs of thyme for some flavour and some hot, crusty bread for dipping in. The chutney is an extra indulgence, but this recipe makes enough to enjoy with a cheeseboard or pate another day."


(Serves four to six as a starter)

250g Tunworth cheese in a box

A few sprigs of thyme

Hot crusty bread or toasted bread crisps, to serve

For the Fig and Apple Chutney:

5 juniper berries

1tsp coriander seeds

2 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

2 star anise

400ml cider vinegar

200g Bramley apples, peeled and grated

300g demerara sugar

130g white onions, finely diced

100ml fresh apple juice (shop-bought is fine)

130g dried figs, roughly diced

60g golden raisins

1tsp salt

20ml Calvados

1kg Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Meanwhile, to make the chutney, put the juniper, coriander, cloves, cinnamon and star anise in a piece of muslin and tie it with string to form a bag.

2. Put the bag in a large, heavy-based saucepan with all the remaining ingredients, except the Calvados and diced apple. Slowly reduce over a low heat until you have a thick, jam-like consistency, stirring regularly so it doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan.

3. Add the Calvados and reduce for one to two minutes to the same jam-like consistency.

4. Add the diced apple and cook gently for five to six minutes, until the apple is tender but still holds its shape and you have a thick chutney consistency. Remove from the heat, cool at room temperature, then transfer to a container and chill in the fridge.

5. Make a few slits in the top of the whole cheese and poke the thyme sprigs into the slits. Put the Tunworth cheese, in its open box (the top of the box removed), in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until soft and gooey. Remove from the oven and serve immediately in the box, with the chutney and hot crusty bread or bread crisps.


Light and lovely - this dish will impress anyone you cook it for.

Simple, sophisticated and lip-smackingly delicious, it's the little extras that take this dish to the next level, says Simon Rogan.

"The firm white flesh of brill has a sweet taste, which marries perfectly with buttery, creamy sauces. Here, it's spiked with peppery watercress, a strong-tasting salad leaf that can hold its own against the intense flavour of the griddled asparagus. It's a really simple dish, lifted by the browned butter."


(Serves four)

For the butter-poached brill:

500g unsalted butter

4 portions of brill, about 80g each

For the griddled asparagus:

20 spears of green asparagus

Rapeseed oil

Pinch of salt

For the watercress cream sauce:

50ml double cream

100ml White Chicken Stock (see below)

150g watercress with stalks

Pinch of salt

For the white chicken stock:

3kg chicken wings

5L water

Baby watercress and cornflowers to serve (optional)


1. To make the stock, roughly chop the chicken wings and put them in a large, heavy-based saucepan with five litres of water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for two to three hours, skimming occasionally. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then strain through a muslin-lined sieve. Keep the stock covered in the fridge and use within three to four days, or freeze and use within three months.

2. Place a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the butter and cook until it foams. Once foaming, reduce the heat and let the butter cook for another 10-15 minutes, until it reaches a very dark brown colour and has a nutty aroma. It will be extremely hot. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. When cool, strain through a muslin-lined sieve and discard the milk solids. Leave to one side.

3. To make the sauce, put the cream and stock in a small, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat and reduce by half. Transfer to a blender with the watercress and blend until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve and season.

4. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Peel each asparagus spear and snap off the woody part of the stem. Blanch for two minutes, or until tender, then remove and refresh in a bowl of iced water. Drain and leave to dry on kitchen paper. When dry, coat each spear with a drizzle of rapeseed oil and scatter a generous pinch of salt over all of them. Heat a griddle pan over a high heat, add the asparagus spears and grill for two to three minutes, or until slightly charred.

5. In a medium, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, bring the browned butter to a temperature of 55°C. Remove from the heat, add the fish and leave to cook gently in the residual heat of the butter for 15-20 minutes. Remove the fish from the butter and drain on kitchen paper.

6. Divide the asparagus among plates. Spoon the watercress sauce on to each plate and place the cooked fish on top. Finish with baby watercress and cornflowers, if you like


The Michelin-starred chef takes a classic dessert to the next level by adding fruit.

Who can resist a warm, chocolate pudding with an oozing gooey middle? Not many of us. But it's the addition of damsons that makes this pudding even more decadent.

"Damsons and dark chocolate are particularly good partners," says chef Simon Rogan, "because both share sweet and slightly tart flavours, which mellow on cooking. The damson filling is so easy to make and has to be frozen into little cubes before adding to the chocolate mix, so you can make more and and have a stash in the freezer, to whip up into this deliciously decadent dessert any time you like.

"Serve piping hot and watch the beautiful damson jam spill out over your spoon as you break them open."


(Serves six)

For the damson filling:

300g damsons

2tbsp (heaped) caster sugar

For the chocolate fondant:

250g unsalted butter, plus extra softened

Butter for greasing

3tbsp cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting

250g dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids), broken into pieces

5 eggs, plus 5 egg yolks

125g caster sugar

100g plain flour


1. Brush six dariole or pudding moulds evenly with softened butter. Place on a baking tray and chill the moulds for 10 minutes in the fridge, until the butter has set. Once set, brush them again with softened butter and dust the insides with the cocoa powder, tapping out any excess powder that hasn't stuck. Chill the moulds again until required.

2. To make the damson filling, put the damsons and 100ml water in a medium, heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the fruit for 10-12 minutes. Strain the cooked damsons through a fine sieve into a clean, heavy-based saucepan, pushing as much of the pulp as you can through the sieve, using the back of a spoon or ladle. Discard the damson stones. Add the sugar to the damson juice and cook over a low to medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the mixture has the consistency of jam. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Divide the damson mixture between six holes in a 20ml ice-cube tray and transfer to the freezer until hard.

3. While the damson filling is freezing, melt the butter and chocolate together in a heatproof bowl, set over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water), stirring regularly. While the chocolate is melting, whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment on high speed until pale, light, fluffy and quadrupled in size. Transfer

the mixture to a bowl and gently fold the melted butter and chocolate mixture through the eggs. Once fully incorporated, sift in the flour and fold through again.

4. Put the fondant mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes and preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas Mark 4.

5. Keeping the moulds on the tray, pour 50-60g of the chilled fondant mixture into the bottom of each chilled mould, gently add one frozen damson cube and cover each cube with 50-60g of fondant mixture. Bake the fondants for 12-13 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to sit in the mould for two minutes, before turning out on to plates. Serve immediately, dusting with cocoa powder.

Rogan: The Cookbook by Simon Rogan is published by HarperCollins, priced £30. Available now.