Simon Rogan: I want Umbel Restaurant Group to grow and gain more Michelin stars

03 April 2024 by
Simon Rogan: I want Umbel Restaurant Group to grow and gain more Michelin stars

Simon Rogan has said his ambition is for his Umbel Restaurant Group to achieve 10 Michelin stars across the business.

The chef's company currently holds seven Michelin stars in the UK, Malta and Hong Kong, including three at L'Enclume in Cumbria, as well as two Michelin green stars for sustainability.

"I want to get to 10," he told The Caterer. "We've got a couple of restaurants that with a little bit of tweaking can certainly get us over the line. It keeps me off the zimmer frame a little longer!"

The Umbel restaurant group includes Rogan & Co, Aulis and Henrock in Cumbria, Aulis in London, ION Harbour in Malta, Aulis in Phuket and Roganic, Aulis and the Baker & Bottleman in Hong Kong.

Rogan said the group's apprenticeship scheme was providing a rich pipeline of talent that was pushing the company forward.

"The standard's so high that by the time they've done their 18 months they are at a good commis level," he said. "They show real hunger and are pushing the guys ahead of them – they want that promotion. For me, that's the dream, that's the way forward and that helps grow our company."

The Academy by Simon Rogan was launched in 2021 in collaboration with Kendal College to help plug the hospitality industry's skills gap, with student places available for those aged 16 years and above and who are UK residents.

Apprentices receive practical experience while working on five-monthly rotations across Rogan's Lake District restaurants, as well as working on special events and spending time on Rogan's farm near Cartmel, which supplies produce to L'Enclume, Michelin-starred Aulis, Rogan & Co, and Henrock at Linthwaite House.

Umbel is already reaping the rewards of the initiative, as 12 out of the first cohort's 15 students are now part of the business. Rogan said three participants left the course due to personal reasons but were still enthusiastic about being part of the industry.

"The positive thing was that not everyone wanted to go to L'Enclume, they were spread across the whole group," he said.

The second group of students is now approaching graduation, with the course culminating in week-long stagiaire at the Michelin-starred Roganic in Hong Kong.

There were only eight places available on the second round of the scheme due to the uptake of jobs from the first intake. Rogan confirmed there will be eight slots available in the upcoming third year of the Academy, which has opened entries for its next course, which starts on 23 September.

"Once again we're way over-subscribed – there are normally 30-40 applications more than the places we have," said Rogan. "The scheme has drawn interest from youngsters that have already got experience, so they come to us at commis level and absorb all the knowledge and opportunities it can offer, because we try to give most of the apprentices a job at the end of it."

Umbel's ongoing expansion is creating new jobs, and the growing talent pool is pushing the group to open more restaurants.

Rogan prefers to utilise the academy to source personnel for his teams around the world, as he instils his company's ethos into the students.

This encompasses working in friendly kitchens and using the best produce and technology. "There are no egos, we only want nice people that want to get on and learn and be part of a team," he said.

One imminent opening Umbel is supporting is Skof in Manchester, the debut restaurant from Tom Barnes. Barnes was head chef at Rogan & Co when it received a Michelin star and executive chef at L'Enclume when it gained a third star.

Barnes is taking two sous chefs from Cartmel to help launch the project.

"We're super excited by Skof," said Rogan. "Tom worked for me for 12 years so he'll be bringing lots of influences from L'Enclume, but the concept will be more about his life and childhood memories of Barrow-in-Furness. It will be really fun and knowing Tom he's going to absolutely smash it."

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