Chef Simon Rogan abandons plans for London restaurant

Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:50am EDT
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By Laurence Fletcher

CARTMEL, ENGLAND (Reuters) - Simon Rogan, one of the UK's top chefs, has abandoned long-awaited plans to open a permanent restaurant in London, for fear his two Michelin-starred L'Enclume restaurant could suffer.

Rogan, who has regularly appeared on TV and who is well known for "foraging" ingredients from the surrounding countryside, told Reuters he abandoned plans for a London outlet after a recent restaurant opening in Manchester "almost killed" him.

The decision stands in stark contrast to moves by other well-known chefs who have built up large restaurant empires on the back of growing interest in good food among the UK public.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, for instance, has opened restaurants throughout the UK and abroad, and has TV series, cook books and merchandise. Other top chefs with large restaurant businesses include Gordon Ramsay, who runs a string of restaurants in London and abroad, and Marco Pierre White, who has steak restaurants in London and other UK cities.

"I was always determined that I wouldn't have a restaurant that I would never step foot into," Rogan told Reuters in the conservatory of L'Enclume, situated in the medieval village of Cartmel in northern England. "How much do you need? How greedy do you want to be? Quality-wise, it's the right decision.

"I don't want to feel that L'Enclume is being neglected, which it certainly felt like to me, because I have been away from it for four weeks now (in Manchester). Although the team here are perfectly capable - you wouldn't know I've been away - I know I am away."

Rogan has run a temporary restaurant called Roganic in London for nearly two years, and had been planning to open a permanent outlet that was "a bit more grand" when the lease for Roganic expires in June, before deciding against it in recent days.

He added that he didn't want to have to depend on "an army of investors" for a London launch, while funding the move from his existing business "would maybe be to risk what is bordering on what we see as perfection here".   Continued...