THE ROTA ARCHIVE

MEGAN ROGERS - THE SENIOR SOUS

"MORE THAN ANYTHING IT'S THE LITTLE EXPERIENCES WHEN PEOPLE REMEMBER YOU."


1. What was your first job in hospitality?

Working on the beach in a fish and chip shack in Dorset in the kitchen. I mean it wasn't a kitchen, it was a box and it was literally like being in a street van full of deep fat fryers.  We made de-frosted fish, not even de-frosted fish I think (laughing). That's not what got me into cooking though, it was my Mum.  She was a food stylist, so it was always there and I've kind of followed in her footsteps really.  I went to the same catering college she went to and then she came out and started working in an Italian restaurant...so I've kind of followed in her footsteps. 

2. What is your favourite cuisine to eat - preferably the opposite to what you work in?

Vietnamese food. Just before I moved to London when I was 17 I went travelling with some friends around Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. It was wake up in the morning and have Pho and for lunch have Pho. They have little carts and it's like a 70 year old Vietnamese woman, I mean it must be the unhealthiest thing in the world, but it's this big pot of pork stock simmering away and then cold pork sitting on the side and loads of noodles and herbs. I think most people went for the baguette, but I went for the Pho. 

3. Which dish do you most associate with childhood?

Spaghetti Bolognese. The other one if you want me to be really honest, it's disgusting, it's gross, I shouldn't be admitting to this, it's macaroni with tomato sauce with proper frozen burgers, like Birds Eyes burgers. Oven baked and just like thrown on top. That's what my Gran used to make, she was the worst cook. 

4. What’s the soundtrack to your first love?

An album called Thriller by New End Original.

5. What do you crave after a long shift?

A cigarette. I'm trying to give up at the moment, so at the moment I'm trying not to smoke. Or a glass of wine, we are really lucky here, my favourite wine is Barolo and that's all we have on our menu, well that's not true, all we have is Italian wine so we always have some sneaky end-of-the-bottle-glass of Barolo you can have if it's been a particularly good night.

6. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – what do you have? 

A part from pork and fennel ragu, and chocolate ice cream (laughing). See my friends always make fun of me because I make out like my job is really tough but it is tough to come in every day and taste ragus at 8am and taste vegetables that people are not sure if they are still fresh, it's just constantly tasting stuff here.  But my breakfast ritual if I have the time to do it is a grapefruit and then a banana, walnuts, coconut yoghurt and honey all on the same plate, but not touching each other. 

7. What is your favourite word?

The coolest sounding word in my mind is 'discombobulated'.

8. If you could go on a culinary extravaganza-eating holiday – where you choose to do so?

Japan. 100%. 

9. All at the same time or coursed out?

Definitely coursed out but in a slightly unsual way.  From working at Zucca I like sharing stuff, quite often if I go to a slightly more traditiional restaurant, like French or British, I will usually order things but tell them when I want them, so it almost falls into some weird Italian menu.  We always have like an 'antipasti', a 'middle course', 'mains' and dessert but always spaced out and lots of sharing. 

10. What is the one area of working in a restaurant you wish you knew more of?

I'm really interested in the front of house, but it's not something I want to do. I know I'm not very good with people and we tried it once. We do cross training here and I was on reception for a night and it's just the most intimidating thing in the world and you have to have a smile on your face all day.  It's hard and it's tiring and you're not able to eat whenever you want. So I think I would like to learn more about wine and the bar. 

11. What is the best cure for a hangover?

Water or start drinking again. 

12. You’re allowed one shift drink – what is it?

A glass of Barolo. 

13. What is the one thing which guests do that drives you mad?

They don't eat their food when it gets to the table. You put so much effort into all the food you make and then it gets to the table and a couple of girls sit there and chat and don't touch their food for 10 minutes, and you know their food just isn't as good as when it left the kitchen. 

14. Do you have any rituals during a shift?

Colourful or patterend socks and rolled-up trousers. 

15. What’s the last film you saw?

I can't remember. There is always something on in the background, like Marley & Me was on the other night when I was cooking for friends (laughing).

16. Best thing that has ever happened to you in a restaurant? 

There is absolutely nothing I can recall. I remember going to the Square and Phil Howard came out to the table and that was really cool to have him come out and say hello.  But I go down to Italy quite a lot and it's more about having people remember you and look after you and give you a glass of wine before you've asked for anything.  More than anything its the little experiences when people remember you.  

17. What’s your tagline/motto?

'Just so you know'

18. Photography while eating – yay or nay?

I do it so I can't be opposed to anyone else doing it. I really don't mind it, if people are excited about the food and think the food looks beautiful enough that they want to take a photo of it than that's really cool. What I don't like is for people to take photos of the food and then write a really shit review on Trip Advisor. That sucks. 

19. Rank the following in order of priority: wine, food, sex

Definitely sex first. It's the other two that I struggle with. If it was the order I would want to do them in then it would be food, wine, sex. 

20. What would be your last meal – drinks included.

It would start with a mixed antipasti of prosciutto, really good tinned anchovies mixed with herbs, white bread, butter and some pickled vegetables. Then vitello tonato, Russian salad and maybe asparagus fonduta with white truffle.  Middle course of tagliorini with a fresh tomato sauce, spinach or vegetables. Then I suppose a whole baked fish with a big salad on the side, a big loaf of bread with loads of olive oil and lemon.  Then dessert, St. Johns sticky toffee pudding with a bowl of ice cream or Zucca's semifreddo.  To drink I'd start with Bruno Giacosa spumante, then a Chardonnay, then a bottle of Cheval Blanc and finish with Barolo.

21. What makes you happy?

Hanging out with my best buddy, my boyfriend. Just hanging out with him, going out to dinner, going to Italy, just hanging out. 

22. How do you relax?

I get horizontal and put on some music and read something, or once again hanging out with my boyfriend having a chat. 

23. What is the background on your phone?

A painting by the artist Vallerio Berruti.

24. Favourite Instagram accounts to follow 

I don' t have an Instagram account. 

25. What is the best thing about working in hospitality? 

I think part of me would say the people, because it's so difficult to go out of hospitality and meet people who get you. I think when you are the kind of person that gets into hospitality that is the kind of person you are. I think it's very specific to certain people and it's nice to meet other people who are like minded.  I like the hours. The best thing I find being in a kitchen is the adrenaline, the excitement. You go into every service and when you're on the other side of the pass and you have the waiters looking at you it's almost like going into battle. All of the sudden people start coming through the door and you feel really pumped.  

26. Which restaurant are you ashamed to NOT have eaten at?

I don't know. There aren't any restaurants I'm ashamed to not have eaten in, there are more restaurants I'm ashamed to have eaten in. 

27. Who is the person you most respect in the industry?

Sam Harris. I left college and met him and on my interview he brought me up here to Zucca when it was a shell and I remember walking out of the interview thinking 'I want to work for this man' and he's taken me from a student to sous chef. 

28. What is your go to party trick?

It's a party trick I've done and I'm never going to do again, but I have drank a bottle of soy sauce. I fainted. 

29. Finish this sentence: I eat everything except ...

Lambs testicals.