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Congratulations to Roganic, which has clinched the BMW Square Meal Award for Best New Restaurant. Square Meal’s editor, Ben McCormack, praised the restaurant – which saw off strong contenders such as Pollen Street Social, Cut, and The Gilbert Scott – for its ‘endless innovation, impeccable ingredients and brave combinations’, all served in an informal environment. ‘What we like most is that this is a fine-dining restaurant without the trappings of fine dining,’ he said.
Ben Spalding, Roganic’s head chef (pictured holding the trophy, right), was delighted with the award. ‘It’s fantastic,’ he said. ‘It has nothing but a positive effect on business, and I’m really humbled.’
Spalding told Square Meal his team has been phenomenal since Roganic opened in June. ‘I‘ve never worked in a restaurant before where the whole team is so gelled together,’ he said.
‘We’re close – our kitchen is a box, so there’s no time for arguing or bickering. We have to work together. But little things make all the difference – I force everyone to sit down together to eat at five o’clock, for example. Everyone here works very hard and it’s very important that that’s recognised.’
Spalding also credited owner and executive chef Simon Rogan for his support and guidance. ‘We have the same vision,’ he said. ‘I run the menu past him but he trusts me and lets me get on with things rather than me having to be on the phone to him all the time. It’s a pretty cool set-up.’
‘I think Simon’s one of the most exciting chefs in the UK,’ he added. ‘Simon’s cooking sticks two fingers up: it’s not about going with the crowd; he does his own thing.’
The BMW awards are now in their 12th year; during this time they have built up a prestigious reputation in the restaurant industry. In his speech at the award presentation, McCormack thanked BMW for its continued support.
He added: ‘The BMW Square Meal Award has proved to be a pretty accurate barometer of restaurants that are going to stay hot, not just until we present our next award in six months’ time, but for years to come.’
As for Spalding, he’s turning his attention to the autumn menu. ‘I’ve got stuff in the slow-cooker now,’ he told Square Meal. ‘I’m constantly trying out new stuff.’