This week, I found myself scrolling through Manchester Evening News, and was shocked to see that Simon Rogan had left The French, three years into his five-year contract. Various sources have linked Simon’s decision to leave, to the failure to reach a Michelin star at the restaurant located in the Midland Hotel. However, Simon simply stated: “It’s now time to concentrate our efforts on developing and growing our businesses in Cartmel with L’Enclume and Rogan & Co. as well as ensuring that Fera at Claridge’s continues to be operated to our high standards”.
I spoke to head chef Adam Reid on what he envisages the future of The French to be like, and what he plans to do now his name will be on the door.
Hi Adam, how do you feel about being asked to take charge now Simon Rogan has left The French?
‘It’s an honour for me, it’s something every chef works towards in their career, to get their name above the door and cook their own style of food. It’s really exciting’.
What can we expect from the new menu? Have you got any big changes planned?
‘I’m developing, at the moment, the menu we are going to implement in November, which is going to be focused around my influences and my style and what I like in terms of taste. I’m a good Northern lad, so there will be nice hearty flavours which are quality driven, with refinement that will fit into a restaurant like The French.’
What advice would you give to somebody looking to enter the food industry? How did you start?
‘Well, I didn’t go to University’ [he laughs] ‘But I’ve been reading about Phil Howard and how he actually did a degree in Micro-Biology and decided to move on and become a chef. He’s now held two Michelin stars for 17 years. I think the main thing you have to remember, like everything in life, is that it’s hard work. It’s more of a passion than a job, you need to realise it will take more out of you than your 8-hours-a-day sometimes.’
How do you deal with the stressful situations you must come under?
‘I’ve basically lived in kitchens all my life, so it’s normal, it comes naturally. But, once you step up as I am now, you get pressures you’re not used to. It depends how you are as a person and being able to put things into context, and make the right decisions.’
What is your personal focus with The French? Are you looking to gain a Michelin Star or is your focus elsewhere?
‘It’s not a competition where you put your name in a hat and you have to perform better than everyone else. At the end of the day, you open a restaurant to reflect what you’re about and what you want to achieve. What we want to achieve is a great environment, serving amazing food, with brilliant service. We want our customers to leave fulfilled, that’s our main focus, and maybe in the long term we can get the accolade.’
In the long term are you planning on staying in the North West? You represented the North West in the Great British Menu finals, have you ever thought about going elsewhere, or are you here to stay?
‘I lived in Manchester for a few years when I started working as a chef. I moved away to peruse my career, so I’ve been away. I came back to Manchester to help re-open The French and the opportunity has now come to do this, and I don’t see myself doing anything else at the time being. Things like this are a project and I’ll be looking to do this for the next few years and see where we can take it.’
Is there anything else you’d like to talk to us about?
‘Again, the style that we’re going for, we are a city centre restaurant, we want to focus on a good feel of what Manchester and the North Wests about really, I’m a Manchester lad. Some good hearty, tasty food going on, with an element of refinement. We want a restaurant about customers, not just what the chef wants to put on the plate. It’s a good opportunity to tie in with the local community.’
Adam Reid takes full control of The French in November and I, for one, can’t wait to see his vision come to life.