If Simon Rogan is nervous, he’s not showing it.
Days before Fera opens on May 6, the British chef appears confident he can make a success of the new restaurant that replaces Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s in the luxury London hotel.
“There’s a lot of pressure, for sure,” Rogan said in an interview in the dining room. “It’s a very big restaurant, with about 90 guests in total, plus another 12 in the private dining room. But we’ve got a big team, which will be about 50.”
After Ramsay’s departure, there was much speculation about who might succeed him. Names that were mentioned by chefs included Rene Redzepi of Noma, Thomas Keller of The French Laundry and Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park.
“Yes, I constantly feel inferior,” Rogan said, and laughed. “They are truly amazing names and when I got the call it was a massive honor. I know I’m not a huge name but I will sweat blood for this project.”
Rogan holds two Michelin stars at L’Enclume, in England’s Lake District, where he owns a farm that will supply vegetables, herbs and flowers to Fera. He is starting a second farm in the Vale of Evesham, just south of Birmingham.
He previously opened a temporary London restaurant, Roganic, which occupied a site in Marylebone.
At Fera, he will offer four menus, including a lunch for 48 pounds ($81) and a blockbuster 16-course tasting option at 125 pounds. The latter will showcase his style of cooking, which is farm-to-plate with a helping hand from technology on the way.
I’ve eaten at L’Enclume and tried the tasting menu at Fera, which starts with a pea-flour wafer topped with pea mousse and flowers. It is simple and yet extraordinary: a flavor bomb.
Rogan says he has developed all-new dishes at Fera, so there is no overlap with L’Enclume or his other restaurant, The French, in Manchester, northern England. The TV show “Restaurant Wars” shows the pressure he was under when opening The French.
At Fera, he appears almost serene.
Fera, 49 Brook Street, Claridge’s, London, W1K 4HR. Information: http://www.claridges.co.uk/FERA/ or +44-20-7107-8888.
(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Bloomberg. Opinions expressed are his own. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines)