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The persistent rumours that Simon Rogan will take over the dining room at Claridge’s (formerly Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's) have been confirmed today, with the new restaurant to launch in spring 2014.
Speculation has been rife as to who would fill Ramsay’s shoes – with suggested chefs ranging from international imports such as Thomas Keller and René Redzepi, to home-grown talent such as Jason Atherton. However, Rogan emerged as the favourite in September, following a leaked rumour on Twitter.
Rogan (pictured, above right) told Square Meal that he never had any doubt about accepting the position at Claridge’s when it was offered to him.
‘I’m sure any chef would cut off their right arm to take on this role,’ he said. ‘It’s on a par with an aspiring footballer wanting to score the winning goal for his country in a World Cup final. I’m really honoured – and relieved – that they’ve gone for a British chef, and it’s a dream come true that that chef was me.’
The L’Enclume chef’s success with Roganic in London in 2011 and his two hotel restaurants in Manchester’s Midland hotel this year – as well as the critical popularity of his fine-dining flagship in Cumbria – have stood Rogan in good stead for the prospect of cooking for one of the capital’s most famous hotels. However, the chef admits that taking on the restaurant at Claridge’s is still a challenging prospect.
‘It will be tough overseeing all of the restaurants I run and making sure they all continue to improve, and obviously Claridge’s is going to take up a massive part of my time,’ he said. ‘Thankfully, I have got good teams in place in Cartmel and Manchester, so as much as possible they will be able to take the reins. And you don’t get much slicker than the Claridge’s team.’
The Claridge’s team were equally exicited about Rogan’s appointment. General manager Thomas Kochs explained the reasons behind the hotel’s choice of chef. 'Naturally we had conversations with a number of incredible chefs from around the world, all of whom we respect hugely,’ he said. ‘But with Simon, we believe we have found someone really special. Simon has established himself as one of Britain’s leading chefs with a wonderful track record – the way he looks at food and the overall dining experience, and his passion for British ingredients, most grown on his own farm, were all touches that fascinated us and set him apart.'
The restaurant at Claridge’s will launch in spring 2014, with Dan Cox as executive chef under Rogan; it will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week. Although no name has yet been announced for the restaurant, Rogan insists his name will not be above the door. ‘This is a long-term project,’ said the chef, who has agreed a 10-year contract with the hotel. ‘We hope to create a world-class restaurant that we can leave as a legacy for London to enjoy for decades to come.’
Rogan and his team – which includes Cox and many of the former Roganic brigade – are currently developing menus, which will be finalised before Christmas. Keep an eye on SquareMeal.co.uk for more details.