Hong Kong has no shortage of excellent restaurants to choose from, but the latest addition to the city’s dining scene started its life as a pop-up in Marylebone, London, back in 2011. Award-winning, Michelin-star chef Simon Rogan has spent more than two decades finessing his farm-to-table concept which relies heavily on a private farm in Cartmel Valley to provide fresh and organic produce, a key component to the menu of Roganic. With the opening of his first overseas and Hong Kong restaurants, we chatted with Rogan on the health perks of organic produce and what to expect on the Hong Kong menus of Aulis and Roganic.
Why did you choose Hong Kong for your first overseas venture? Hong Kong is an amazing city, I came over last year for a collaboration with Dining at Murasaki which gave me the opportunity to explore. Hong Kong has one of the most vibrant and exciting restaurant scenes, so it was the perfect place to open a new restaurant.
Your restaurants focus on a farm-to-table concept, and you have your own Cartmel Valley Farm which provides the produce for your UK restaurants. What were some of the challenges in bringing that concept to Hong Kong? We wanted to make sure that we used the freshest ingredients, so we have been working with local organic farms in the New Territories. We have been visiting the farms and speaking directly with the farmers to see if they can supply or grow certain ingredients, so we ensure we are cooking seasonally and using mostly local produce. We also use a few ingredients from Our Farm in the Cartmel Valley and are growing certain items on site in Hong Kong using propagators.
Tell us a bit about what to expect on the menus at Aulis and Roganic—are there any major differences between your restaurants in Hong Kong vs. the UK? What dishes are you most excited about? The menu at Aulis will allow guests to sample dishes that have never been tried before: it’s a very intimate experience with only 12 seats and with the chefs working right in front of you. The menu at both Aulis and Roganic are heavily influenced by the London versions and will include our trademark light, balanced dishes which offer intriguing combinations of flavours. The style and presentation of the dishes at both Aulis and Roganic will be very similar to the UK versions but the ingredients will differ quite a bit as we will aim to use local ingredients as much as possible. I am really excited about the new version of our Cumbrian Beef dish which uses some amazing Wagyu that we have discovered, and also the five flavoured Grouper.
Fresh, organic produce is a key part of your menus: what are the health benefits and the environmental advantages of choosing organic produce over others? Using organic produce limits the number of harmful chemicals we use on the land and put into our bodies. It is completely possible to grow exceptional quality produce without using pesticides and still grow the perfect ingredient.
What sustainability measures are you taking in Aulis and Roganic to reduce food waste, single-use plastics, etc? If we know that we have a surplus of one ingredient from our suppliers or that we’ve grown ourselves, we will try to incorporate that excess into the menu or use fermentation and pickling techniques to ensure nothing gets wasted.
What is your own personal eating philosophy? I try to eat pretty healthily, especially when I’m very busy and it would be easy to eat unhealthy meals because I’m constantly on the go but it doesn’t always end up that way. I try and use lots of vegetables in everything I make for myself.
Aulis private 12-person chef table opened in January 2019 and can be booked here.
Roganic is set to open in late February 2019: find out more here.