Simon Rogan: ‘Replacing Ramsay will be a massive challenge’

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Restaurant, Simon Rogan

Rogan's Run: Simon Rogan says Claridge's was 'the perfect opportunity' for his capital comeback
Rogan's Run: Simon Rogan says Claridge's was 'the perfect opportunity' for his capital comeback
Simon Rogan has admitted that there is a lot of pressure to emulate what Gordon Ramsay created at Claridge’s, but the chef is confident that he can deliver a long-lasting modern restaurant that reflects the timelessness of the five-star London hotel. 

After months of speculation, it was revealed this morning​ that Rogan will open the as-yet-unnamed restaurant in April or May next year following Ramsay’s departure in the summer.

Speaking to BigHospitality shortly after the news broke, Rogan said Claridge’s was ‘the perfect opportunity’ as a permanent London home after Roganic closed in June.​ But he accepted that following in the footsteps of Ramsay, who occupied the space for 12 years, will be difficult.

“There’s always pressure with new restaurants but I can’t deny that I have butterflies with this one,” he said. “It’s a massive challenge but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could deliver.

“You don’t get any slicker than Claridge’s and I have to pinch myself to realise that this is actually happening. But I’m ready for the challenge - I can’t wait to get my hands on the dining room and create something very special with my team.  

“Gordon Ramsay was a huge success here and if we can get anywhere near that then I’ll be happy, but what we’re going to be doing will be very different.”

The next chapter

Dan Cox, who ran Roganic, will be executive chef at the new restaurant and much of the kitchen brigade will be made up of the original team at Rogan’s Marylebone pop-up.​ Menus are yet to be drawn up but Rogan revealed the food 'will have the L’Enclume DNA embedded in it', with produce supplied directly from his 12-acre farm in Cumbria which he built from scratch.

Claridge's-restaurant
Gordon Ramsay made £17.5m in pre-tax profits in his 12 years at Claridge's

It’s been a busy and successful year for Rogan. With L’Enclume still buzzing from receiving its second Michelin star and scoring a perfect 10 out of 10 in the Good Food Guide,​ the chef-turned-restaurateur opened The French and Mr Cooper’s House & Garden​ within the Midland Hotel in Manchester earlier this year. He also runs the sister restaurant Rogan & Company and local pub The Pig & Whistle​ - both in Cartmel - but he insists Claridge’s will be a cut above the rest.

“It’s going to be something a few steps up; something really special,” he added. “We’d looked at a number of projects after Roganic closed. Opening The French took quite a lot out of me but I always thought the next step would be to do something really amazing.

“Rather than funding another restaurant ourselves which would cost a vast amount of money, the next best option was to find a hotel site working in conjunction with a good hotel company – just like I did at The Midland.

“I’m hoping that Claridge’s can also do something for me too; make me a better restaurant operator. It’s an amazing organisation – merging the two brands will hopefully create something very special.”

Chef to restaurateur

The 80 to 90-cover dining room and 25-cover private dining room have already been completely stripped to an empty shell and Rogan says there are some ‘very exciting plans on the table’ in terms of the modern design. The budget is of course significant, in true Claridge’s style.

rogan-farm
Much of the produce for the kitchen will be sourced from Rogan's farm in Cumbria

A name has still not been decided but Rogan confirmed it will not follow the ‘name-above-the-door’ precedent.

Upon the restaurant’s opening next year, Rogan will divide his time equally between London and Cartmel, with an extra focus on Claridge’s while the new venue is established. Having worked in restaurants for almost 30 years, the restaurateur said he was glad to no longer spend his entire working day in the kitchen.

“I love creating a restaurant and at my stage in my career I want to be involved in everything. During a restaurant service I’m normally plating and keeping an eye on things. But I enjoy not getting involved in the monotonous preparation stage anymore.

“I’ve been getting the infrastructure ready for this moment for some time now and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”

Rogan and the Claridge’s are now finalizing plans for the new restaurant, with specific details of the food and drink offering and the exact opening date to be revealed in due course. Reservations will not be taken until next year. 

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