Cartmel is a small village in the county of Cumbria, near the west coast of England, about halfway up the coast. Here you will find L’Enclume (eng. The Amboss), one of the best restaurants in England, in the magical ambience of a medieval forge. The quaint natural stone building from the 13th century is as unique as the restaurant itself. With its rough plastered walls and rustic beamed ceiling, the interior is as cozy as it is simple. The huge anvil in a wall opening evokes the working spirit of centuries long past, as does the flatware hand-forged especially for L’Enclume. The restaurant reflects the close ties with the surrounding area and fits perfectly with the regional concept, which is entirely focused on the local environment.
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Simon Rogan, a head chef who collects mushrooms himself
Here, in Lake District, Simon Rogan likes to explore nature, where he’s always on the look out for unique ingredients. His cuisine only uses products from the region. Wild mushrooms are a highlight. Simon Rogan also particularly enjoys collecting aromatic wild garlic in the spring, which grows there in abundance. “For the 20-year celebration, we made a limited edition cheese in pickled wild garlic leaves with a regional cheese dairy,” says the versatile chef. However, what you find in the woods and fields is of course not enough on its own to cover your needs. But what retailers offer in the way of regional products often lacks quality, as the discerning chef soon found out. Simon Rogan was convinced that this could be done better – and he proved it.
Tailor-made top products grown sustainably
As soon as the opportunity arose, the passionate restaurateur quickly started his own farm. Our Farm in Cartmel Valley grows superb, flavorful vegetables and herbs that are perfectly suited to L’Enclume’s innovative dishes and flourish with the rhythm of the seasons. This also guarantees the traceability of ingredients.
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The future of sustainable gastronomy: cultivating regionally and preserving surplus
During the summer months, interested guests are given a guided tour of the pioneering project, which is much more than a source of good ingredients for Simon Rogan. The connection of the cultivated products with the whole environment became increasingly important for him, and a deep interest in sustainability emerged from the project. “The way we do it here, without pesticides and artificial fertilizers, small-scale and regional, that’s the future of agriculture and sustainable gastronomy,” Simon Rogan says with conviction.
He also finds it important to make full use of the harvest. Surplus is fermented or turned into juice. The famous British pickles are also made in Our Farm. Some of these fine preserves are available in the online shop. Simon Rogan and his team mostly use them for their unmistakable 3-star cuisine. The food resulting from this finely woven holistic concept shows great respect for the products and the region. Simon Rogan initially based this concept on the cuisine of another great chef. “When I founded L’Enclume, I was inspired by the French chef Marc Veyrat, who uses alpine herbs in his cuisine,” explains Simon Rogan. “No one else did that at the time.”
Red beets, black garlic, kale and green bean cabbage – 14 courses from the region
The fourteen-course tasting menu changes with the seasons and wows with compositions such as quiche with red beet, rose and smoked zander roe, with juices where perilla has been left to steep, winter kale leaves fried in pork fat, black garlic or pork neck filets and broth with summer bean cabbage.
Invariably included: Berkwell pudding, a kind of signature dish. “It is composed of several layers of croissants caramelized in birch sap. On top comes stout vinegar jelly and shaved Berkwell cheese,” explains the successful restaurateur, who loved to cook as a teenager, took his first restaurant job at 14 to boost his budget, and eventually gave up his dream of playing football for the more realistic option of a culinary apprenticeship while continuing to work on the side. This was followed by stations in many prestigious establishments, until he opened L’Enclume in 2002 and Our Farm a little later. Enough tasks to keep busy, you might think. But nothing could be further from the truth!
Cartmel, London, Hong Kong – expanding with innovative restaurant concepts
Rogan also runs the cozy Rogan & Co. restaurant in Cartmel and the Aulis location, which serves as a test kitchen and Chef’s Table. Add to that a delivery service established during the Corona pandemic and Henrock, an elegant casual dining concept in the same region. Then there’s Aulis London, an intimate eight-seat live-cooking restaurant in the heart of Soho. The most recent additions are two restaurants in Hong Kong, one of which has already earned a star. “Since I was in Hong Kong because of a pop-up restaurant, I have been fascinated by the food culture and the desire for innovative restaurant concepts,” explains Rogan, who also pays rigorous attention to sustainability in Hong Kong. In the meantime, he has also opened a bakery with a wine bar in Hong Kong. The exceptional chef also has many new projects in the works – so there are many exciting things to come!