Two Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan has finally released a cookbook. Claire Spreadbury gets hot in the kitchen asking him all about it...

When you first approach Simon Rogan, he doesn’t seem especially friendly. He’s a very busy man - part chef, part farmer, running multiple restaurants, gunning for more Michelin stars, setting up new establishments and barely home to chill and hang out with his family.

But the second you get him in a kitchen, his whole demeanour changes. He’s instantly more at ease; chattier, jokier, and eager to get stuck in.

When we meet at Roganic - his latest venture, which turned from a temporary pop-up back in 2011 to a permanent restaurant that opened in January - he’s about to launch his very first cookbook.

It’s surprising he’s never created a cookbook before. At the age of 50, with two Michelin stars for his best-restaurant-list-topping L’Enclume in the Lake District’s Cartmel, you’d think he’d have a couple under his belt already.

“I was never really that bothered,” he says with a shrug, turning some charred spring onions on the hot plate as he talks.

The kitchen is wonderfully calm, if a little boysy (the only females I encounter are upstairs in the restaurant). Head chef Oli Marlow (formerly of The Fat Duck) is preparing for lunch service, all sparkly-eyed and hair spiked.

Rogan is a grafter. And his passion for food - and farming - shines through with every word he utters. He’s looking good, slightly trimmer than normal, which is down to him having a bit of a veganism stint.

“It doesn’t really work, because of the tasting, but when I’m on my own I try to eat really healthily. There’s a busy six months coming and I need to lose a bit of weight and keep fit. And I have loads of vegetables that need eating,” he says, tapping his tummy, blue eyes lighting up.

“Last night, I fried some courgettes, peppers, mushrooms - I really love mushrooms - tomatoes, garlic, and I had a cheeky little bit of curry sauce left over, so I coated it all and just ate that. And I had water, not a gin and tonic.”

Essentially it’s “head down” until October, while he focuses on consistency at all of the restaurants (he has four in total), in the hope of a smattering of those all-important Michelin stars this autumn.

“I’m working all the time at the moment,” he admits. “We’ve got ambitions on a third star at L’Enclume. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices since 2011 by doing other things elsewhere. I’ve had distractions. So this year, I thought we’d go for it. You’ve just got to do the best you can and be consistent. All the restaurants should be in the running this year, Rogan & Co, Roganic, but at least I’ve tried. It’s the last thing I want to achieve.”

And he’s also in the process of setting up a new restaurant. It’s still very hush-hush, but he accidentally reveals it should be all systems go this time next year - and somewhere in the Far East.

So why has it taken him until now to bring out a book, and what does he hope to achieve with it?

“I’d like to encourage more people to cook and grow their own veg,” states the chef, slamming the worktop with passion. “I’d like to see more people eating less meat, so there’s less cattle feeding on the wheat that could feed the starving.

“There’s so much overproduction of beef to feed the world and our fast-food habits,” he continues. “That’s why I have stints of eating no meat whatsoever. I’m not a vegetarian, I enjoy meat, but I don’t gorge on it like I used to. And I definitely feel better for it.”

Rogan fiddles with a pair of giant silver tweezers as he chats, tapping them on the worktop sometimes as he thinks. He interrupts conversation to tell you something and doesn’t seem like a patient man, yet he happily gives me over two hours of his time, showing me how to cook and plate his food.

We start with a simple tomato broth. And it is simple. Essentially, we’re just assembling three tiny cubes of trout, radishes, beetroot, turnips and onions, before placing herbs, leaves and flowers on top, and then dousing it in a liquid form of tomato, which tastes utterly divine. I’m delicately placing marigold flowers and nasturtiums for about five minutes. In reality, this dish should be plated up in 30 seconds.

He feigns being impressed at my swirls of sweetcorn puree, which form the base for a gentle pan-fried sea bass, charred sweet corn and spring onion dish. And he happily tells me how his moreish truffle pudding is made from squashing down croissants.

It’s very food-to-fork at all of Rogan’s restaurants, and he’s had to learn to farm as well as he can cook. How does it do it? “Ask Google,” he bellows.

He tells me about the cauliflowers which turned red in the sun this year - apparently because they should have used the leaves to cover up the florets. He’s full of knowledge and is happy to share it, but clearly enjoys learning more every day too. All the new starters at his restaurants - including waiting-on staff - spend time on the farm, so they understand the processes involved in the food they serve.

But the book, he seems a little apprehensive about. “I don’t think it’s what people will expect,” he tells me, hands ruffling his beard stubble.

He believes everyone will be expecting the coffee table L’Enclume tomb - which he will bring out another time - but this is a simplified version, using ingredients and combinations he’s known for but in a way that’s achievable for a home cook. After all, we want to be able to cook what’s in the book, right?

And actually, as we flick through the unedited proof together, searching for the simplest recipes, he smirks as he tells me: “I don’t think there’s anything that simple, to be honest. But it is achievable.”

He even reveals that every single dish photographed in the book wasn’t made by him.

He was there and gave some direction, but he didn’t make it - it was a home economist brought in for the shoot.

“I would have gone back into L’Enclume mode and served it like that, so we worked as a team to do this book, and I didn’t plate any of them.”

The book may not be what the world is expecting from Rogan - but it’s exactly what we need. A little inspiration to grow more, cook at home, and take time over our food. So much of it can be raw or pickled. But if we all make a little start, we’re helping the planet and our pockets all at the same time.

nRogan: The Cookbook by Simon Rogan is published by HarperCollins, priced £30. Available now.