Simon Rogan is globally recognised and celebrated for being a chef who creates dishes made with hyper-seasonal produce grown on neighbouring lands. Rogan has opened restaurants across London and Hong Kong during his career, but his most notable is L’Enclume in the UK.

In 2022, the restaurant celebrated 20 years in business, with the anniversary coinciding with its third Michelin star — a long-term goal shared by Rogan and his team. Now, the chef is giving Sydneysiders a taste of L’Enclume during a month-long residency at Bathers’ Pavilion this coming July.

Hospitality speaks to the chef about the story behind L’Enclume and what diners can expect from his upcoming residency.

L’Enclume was Simon Rogan’s first solo restaurant venture, with the chef launching the fine diner back in 2002. “Opening my own place had always been the goal,” he says. “I had been working with a lot of very talented chefs, and along the way, began to understand my own personal style. I felt it was the right time to strike out on my own.”

Situated in the English Lake District in the village of Cartmel, Rogan received a tipoff about a former blacksmith’s workshop and was instantly drawn to its charm and nearby farm.

It was vital for the chef to open a restaurant in a location that produced quality ingredients that would allow him to present a bespoke, area-based offering. “I wanted to find somewhere that had direct access to amazing ingredients and where I could be involved in the growing process,” he says. “I imagined it to be a place where the seasons and local area are deeply connected, creating something completely unique.”

The estate is home to L’Enclume, a chef’s table and a development kitchen called Aulis Cartmel as well as Our Farm, which was established nearby. Our Farm supplies almost all the produce used at L’Enclume and Rogan’s other restaurants across the UK.

The chef works alongside Head Grower John Rowland and Head Chef Liam Fitzpatrick on the garden, which sees a bespoke selection of produce grown and later picked at its prime. “It’s really exciting to be able to show guests that the kale or the flower they have been served on a dish at L’Enclume was growing at Our Farm that morning,” says Rogan.

Our Farm is a vital piece of the chef’s food philosophy at L’Enclume, which communicates a sense of place through the plate. “Each dish champions the remarkable produce from the Lakes and reflects our surroundings,” says
Rogan. “We put a lot of time into sourcing seeds, preparing beds and nurturing each plant, so we want to show that.”

The chef describes the cuisine at L’Enclume as “seasonal, hyperlocal and organic produce-led cooking” that has a less-is-more approach. The kitchen team’s relationship with Our Farm also ensures the menu is always aligned with nature. “We know what is in peak season and whether there is about to be a glut of something, which results in a menu that cannot be replicated anywhere else,” says Rogan. “It’s like a fingerprint made up of many different factors.”

He compares creating the menu to writing a poem as “it flows and has a structure, but is constantly evolving”. Locality is taken very seriously at L’Enclume, which means some ingredients never grace the kitchen. Take citrus — it’s not able to be grown to an acceptable standard on Our Farm or in the wider Lakes area, so Rogan does not use it.

Instead, the chef adapts and sources other ingredients with similar characteristics.
“We often substitute those vibrant, tangy notes by using berries or creating flavoured vinegars that emulate the flavour profile,” he says. “We have also discovered that by fermenting courgettes, the resulting juice has a similar flavour to lemon.”

Our Farm is not just a source of ingredients, but a place of discovery for the L’Enclume team, who often experiment with growing different fruits and vegetables. “We’re always on the lookout for really interesting varieties with unique flavours people may not have experienced before,” says Rogan. “We don’t grow anything too funky or out of the ordinary, but we will find varieties of different vegetables.”

Celebrating 20 years in business is no mean feat and was a heartfelt milestone achieved by the team in 2022. Rogan believes an environment based on shared creativity has played a vital role in the longevity of the restaurant. “We have a very collaborative way of working,” he says. “Everyone has a voice on ideas and innovations for how we can grow.”

Along with sharing new concepts, a seasonal mindset goes hand in hand with delivering an ever-changing menu for diners. “The very nature of our menu is ever-evolving and guided by the seasons,” says Rogan. “We’re constantly changing up our offering and there is always something new. We’re constantly experimenting with new produce and different and unexpected ways to use it.”

Last year also saw Rogan achieve a long-term goal, with L’Enclume awarded a third Michelin star. “It was an incredible moment…I was completely lost for words,” he recalls. “It’s been an aspiration I’ve been thinking about for the last 20 years, and to have my incredible team beside me, I couldn’t have asked for more.”

Previously, L’Enclume held two Michelin green stars for its sustainability achievements, which include producing zero food waste. “Sustainability has been at the heart of what we do from the very beginning, and we’ve worked hard to implement practices on every level that reduce our impact,” says Rogan.

As Our Farm provides almost all of L’Enclume’s produce, the restaurant has significantly minimised its carbon footprint as there is no requirement for extensive transportation or packaging. It also has a composting program for food waste that hasn’t been repurposed for pickling or fermenting purposes.

Come July, Rogan and key members of the L’Enclume team will travel to Sydney for a five-week residency at Bathers’ Pavilion. It’s the first time Rogan has transported the L’Enclume experience overseas, with the residency in the works since 2019. The chef is excited to bring the concept to life at the venue where he “fell in love” with the views of Balmoral Beach and the water’s-edge dining experience.

The residency will see a continuation of the L’Enclume approach, with local ingredients set to play a key role on the menu. “The opportunity to discover a whole world of different ingredients, develop relationships with local suppliers and the chance for our team to learn and experiment with new produce in a completely different locality is incredibly exciting,” says Rogan.

While it’s been a minute between trips, it’s not the chef’s first time to Australia, with Rogan spending time in Melbourne where he dined at Brae, Attica, Vue de monde and the Royal Mail Hotel in regional Victoria. “I have long admired the culinary scene in Australia,” he says. “I love the variety of landscapes that offer wildly different ingredients to use when it comes to cooking. We grow an amazing variety of ingredients, but the warmer climate in Australia means access to ingredients we just can’t grow in the UK.”

Rogan will personally lead the L’Enclume team and produce an eight-course menu with snacks and petit fours for the residency. The offering see dishes informed by Australian produce entwined with Rogan’s signature dishes. “Diners can expect to get a real essence of L’Enclume in a tasting menu that will feature some classic dishes that elevate the very best of local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients,” says the chef. “We’ll be sourcing everything from farms and producers in New South Wales and Australia. In that sense, it will be a completely unique experience.”

Signature dishes Anvil, a caramel mousse with house-made miso and winter apple, and a Berkswell pudding with birch sap and stout vinegar could potentially make an appearance on the Australian menu.

And while there’s much to look forward to when it comes to exploring our bounty of local produce, Rogan admits he’s keen to work with seafood producers in particular. “There is some incredible seafood in Australia that’s completely different to what is available in the UK and I’m excited to connect with suppliers who are leading the way when it comes to sustainable practices,” he says. “The fact that the residency is longer than your average pop-up means we’ll have time to really cement those relationships.”

Service-wise, L’Enclume’s “refined, yet relaxed and warm atmosphere” will be recreated, something that has always been core to the restaurant experience.
L’Enclume is a globally renowned venue and its Sydney residency will present a fresh challenge for the fine diner to take on.

As it enters a new chapter, the first international residency for the restaurant is a growth opportunity for everyone involved. “It’s how we want to embark on our [next] decade, for the company and our team to keep pushing boundaries, satisfy our curious minds and never stop learning.”

L’Enclume at Bathers’ Pavilion will run from 19 July until 20 August 2023.