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restaurants � food

to date and, although he admits to a

touch of sadness that half his week will

be spent in London and not on the farm,

he couldn't be happier. 'When Gordon

and Claridge's announced that they were

parting company every chef wanted to go

in there. I always thought it should go to a

British chef - even if it wasn't me. And then

I thought, hang on a minute: what British

chef has achieved the most over the last

two or three years? Well, that was me. I

wanted to be asked and Claridge's wanted

to be courted. In the end, they asked me.'

But Fera won't just be a London version of

L'Enclume. 'We want people to be con� dent

in the fact that they are very di„ erent

restaurants and menus. There'll still be a

strong Cumbrian accent, but we'll be serving

a whole new repertoire of dishes.'

The same Lake District craftsmen who

make L'Enclume's tableware are supplying

Claridge's but Rogan says that the overall feel

will be 'more blingy'. As well as a 90-cover

dining room, there will be a private dining

room for 12 people, plus in time a chef's

counter for eight where diners will be the � rst

to try a bespoke menu of dishes currently

in development. Meanwhile, part of the wall

around the main kitchen has been removed

so that diners will be able to see what's going

on. And as at L'Enclume, customers will be

encouraged to enter the kitchen to chat to

the chefs, including Rogan, who will be 'there

to p our and serve, to make myself seen'.

Empire strikes

But as Rogan is the � rst to admit, if he's

making himself seen at Claridge's, he won't

be elsewhere in his empire. 'Of the six

restaurants, there are only three that are ever

going to see me for a real amount of time.

That's L'Enclume, Claridge's and The French.

The other three will have to look out for

themselves - the menus are still developed at

L'Enclume but as for me working in them, it's

absolutely impossible. I haven't got any time.'

What, then, will Rogan be spending his

time on? He is refreshingly frank about the

fact that it bothered him that The French was

overlooked for a Michelin star in last year's

red guide, and of his ambition to win a third

star for L'Enclume - as well as break on to

the s.pellegrino 50 Best list with Claridge's.

Again, the chef says that L'Enclume's location

has been as much of a help as a hindrance

in winning Rogan international acclaim. 'It

annoys me that L'Enclume hasn't got on the

50 Best list and I don't think that it ever

will, because of where it is. I really want to

achieve that with Claridge's.'

In the end it all comes back to Cartmel.

When I ask Rogan what his proudest

achievement of the last 12 years is, he says:

'I'm most proud of how the village of Cartmel

is now. There's a cheese shop, a bakery, a

wine shop and a hotel that have sprung up

and there's no doubt that L'Enclume has

been the catalyst for that. We're all going

in the right direction.' But no one is going

further than Simon Rogan.

Fera opens on 6 May at Claridge's, Brook Street,

W1K 4HR; 020 7107 8888; claridges.co.uk/fera

ON THE MENU AT FERA

Marinated sturgeon, burnt bread,

caviar cream

Raw beef and smoked broccoli cream,

scallop roes and acidic apple juice

Brill braised in whey Ÿ avoured with

Alexander seeds, blewitts, whelks

and sea asters

Baked muscovado yoghurt, pear poached

in verjus, calamint and muscovado crisp

Iced beech leaf, nitro sweet cheese

and apples, syrup of sweet brackens

From the 10-course, £95 tasting menu

'I thought, hang on a minute: what British

chef has achieved the most over the last

two or three years? Well, that was me'

Good egg: L'Enclume's cod

yolk, salt and vinegar

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