Simon Rogan to open L'Enclume themed food shop in Cartmel
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 October 2016
© Copyright John Arandhara-Blackwell. All Rights Reserved 2014.
Super chef Simon Rogan has had success in Manchester and London but his first love is still a village in old Lancashire. He spoke exclusively to Mike Glover. Pictures by Sandy Kitching
TOP chef Simon Rogan plans to open a shop in an historic building in Cartmel later this month, proving once again how this small but beautiful Lake District village has the ability to constantly refresh its appeal to visitors.
Having its own racecourse, an imposing 12th century medieval priory church and the headquarters of the world-conquering sticky toffee pudding would be enough for most settlements just 600 people strong.
But in Cartmel the attractions just keep on coming. The latest trawl by Lancashire Life found an award–winning and innovative fun transport company, a brewery, a cheese shop and now Simon is expanding his empire into retail.
The chef has planning permission and soon hopes to open the ground floor Cartmel Priory Gatehouse Cottage as a shop selling a range of goods branded with the name of his celebrated restaurant L’Enclume, located only yards away in Cavendish Street.
The Gatehouse, dating from the 14th century, is owned by the National Trust, which is leasing it to Simon’s company, Umbel Restaurant Group.
The ebullient chef said the shop would sell memorabilia associated with the restaurant, which for two years running has been named the best in Britain.
‘Aprons, chef’s jackets, kitchenware, chutney, jams, anything that reminds people of their visit will be on sale and we plan to build up the range as we go along,’ he told Lancashire Life in an exclusive interview.
His restaurant empire – L’Enclume and Rogan & Company in Cartmel, The French and Mr Cooper’s House & Garden, both in Manchester and the Michelin-starred Fera in London – has won him countless plaudits.
But he is determined to keep his base in Cartmel where it all started 14 years ago and where he also runs a farm. Not that he wants the village to become ‘Roganville’, as some London journalists like to say.
‘It is easy to say that because Cartmel is so small,’ he says. ‘But we see the shop as an opportunity for the village to flourish, as another attraction for people visiting Cartmel.
‘It should be a welcome addition to the mix. We don’t want to double up on anything other people in the village already sell.’
His company already rents the three-storey building, with the former first-floor bedrooms used as office space, while the second floor is used for storage.
The Grade II-listed building housed a general store and haberdashery during the 19th century. ‘We were bursting at the seams at L’Enclume and wanted to move behind-the-scenes activities and make room for better staff accommodation,’ added Simon, who worked with several famous chefs, including Marco Pierre White and Jean-Christophe Novelli, before setting up L’Enclume in 2002. It is the only restaurant in the region to hold two Michelin stars.
‘It was the building that first attracted me to Cartmel. I wanted bedrooms as well as a restaurant and local landlords Jonathon Wood and Richard Davis were very supportive in letting me achieve my vision. Once I got here I realised it was a beautiful place to live and work.’
In 2014 and 2015, The Good Food Guide awarded L’Enclume a perfect 10 score for its cooking, topping the list of the UK’s best restaurants. The 2017 guide has re-established it as Britain’s best, showcasing Cartmel to food-lover the world over.
Cartmel: The Wheel Deal
It is not just food and drink that has that Cartmel magic.
Wayne and Ann Riches, both Bolton born-and-bred, first met at Turton High School. He became a banker and she became a dental nurse.
Years later they met up again and wanted to sample a Segway holiday in the Lake District only to find the licence holder, based at the Graythwaite Estate near Hawkshead, was selling up.
They bought it and brought it to Cartmel, based in the village car park which is part of the Holker estate next to the racecourse.
Less than two years later Lakeland Segway was winner of the Cumbria Tourism Visitor Experience of the Year award and goes on to the Visit England finals later this year.
For those unfamiliar with Segways, they are stand-up mobility devices which are controlled by weight transference. Lean forward and they go forward. Lean back and they stop, then reverse.
They are battery powered and go up to 12-and-a-half miles an hour. They go for up to four hours after which they need six to eight hours of recharging. They are banned from public highways.
They seem great fun. After initial training, customers go on a guided tour of the Cartmel peninsula, on a scenic route through the Holker Estate to Cark-in-Cartmel, which can mean negotiating bumpy paths and grasslands. More experienced users can go on an adventure challenge through the woods.
‘When we first came here, I am sure there were those who wondered why on earth we were in Cartmel, but the businesses were all very supportive and the people made us feel welcome,’ said Wayne.
Thousands of people have taken up the challenge and remarkably 80 per cent of users come to Cartmel for Segway, so increasing the footfall for the rest of the village.
Hen parties and business team building exercises are popular. Christmas tours involve Mulled wine and mince pies, even reindeer antlers, which must confuse the indigenous deer population.
The firm has already branched out into electric bicycles and archery, and soon will be running high-tech treasure hunts, involving solving puzzles through augmented reality on I-pads.
It seems Cartmel - lauded by celebrities like Steve Coogan and Chris Evans, who famously described the village as a ‘thimble of diamonds’ - has enough entrepreneurs to keep the village bulging with visitors for another 800 years.