Simon Rogan’s father worked at a wholesale fruit and vegetable market, coming home every evening with a box of the day’s the best produce. A fussy eater at the time, Simon Rogan was suspicious of the unfamiliar exotics he brought back, such as star and kiwi fruits, but credits this early exposure with sparking his life-long interest in ingredients and seasonal produce.
Already a keen home cook, aged 14 he took a weekend job in a Greek restaurant in his hometown of Southampton, but at that point the financial freedom it afforded was the motivator. Football was more on his mind, with trials for Chelsea and a training contract with Fulham in the offing; but realising this was a pipe dream, he focused on catering college instead, which he attended on day release while he continued to work. He told GQ of his time there: ‘I was surrounded by aspiring chefs who were far more experienced than me and were working in the great country-house hotels of the New Forest … I couldn’t stand for that! So that fired up my competitive spirit and I vowed to become the best chef I could.’