Two Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan shows you how to get the best out of seasonal ingredients at home
My passion for cooking began as a child, and by my teens I was working in the kitchens of some of the best restaurants in the world. I was lucky to get such fantastic training, but the basis of my cooking is not just about the combination of flavours, textures, colours on the plate; what matters most is the origins of the foods I am using.
The origins of our ingredients is crucial, not just for our enjoyment of it and our health, but also for the sake of our planet. In the supermarkets, there are no seasons – you can buy tomatoes year round which are grown on the other side of the world, picked when green and ripened using ethylene gas. The majority of commercial vegetables are bad for our health.
To me, this just isn’t right. Nature provides such abundance when it is nurtured and respected, and I believe we need to step back and appreciate what our local area offers us.
At the start of the new millennium, I got a phone call from an old friend telling me about a site in a village in Cumbria. Here was a restaurant that could be everything I dreamed of. In the Lake District, I could create a business that was in total harmony with its environment.
Our Farm, as it is called, works hard for us, providing us with what we need for the kitchens on a daily basis, but also enough to experiment with. From a chef’s perspective, working with fresh ingredients gives us total control in the kitchen – we are able to enjoy the most diverse seasonal produce picked fresh for the plate.
The best dishes have the best ingredients. And that’s our ethos; it’s all about growing the perfect carrot rather than cooking it perfectly. Since I have had access to the very best ingredients we can produce, my style of cuisine has become far simpler. It is this simplicity that is the keystone of my recipes, and the foundation of everything we serve in our restaurants.
It is our responsibility to future generations to nurture what we have now. Think seasonal, think local, think organic, and if all else fails, think about the origin of your ingredients.