5 minutes with… Rocco Seminara

Brummell meets with Rocco Seminara, Bagatelle’s executive corporate chef, to discuss his career, French cuisine and his thoughts on the London gastronomic scene

Food and Drink 23 Oct 2023

5 minutes with… Rocco Seminara

What can diners expect from Bagatelle?

Bagatelle’s customers can expect a culinary experience infused with our philosophy and meticulous approach to preparing our dishes. Our restaurant embodies a true celebration of Mediterranean cuisine, showcasing top-quality ingredients, bold flavours and impeccable presentation. We strive to create a warm and friendly atmosphere where every meal becomes an enjoyable experience.

What motivated you to work as the executive corporate chef of Bagatelle?

First and foremost, my entry into the group was inspired by a meaningful encounter with the founder. Embracing this challenge, my goal was to build a narrative that begins with the product we craft and unfolds worldwide, embodying the Mediterranean spirit that defines Bagatelle. As a corporate chef, this adventure represents an exciting challenge that continually pushes me to exceed my limits, both creatively and professionally.

You oversee culinary operations in 15 establishments worldwide. What’s your secret to ensuring that each restaurant produces the highest quality food?

The secret, if there is one, lies in training, communication, and passion. Each restaurant boasts a talented and dedicated team. We ensure that our staff is trained to the quality standards I’ve established for the Bagatelle group, and we encourage collaboration and the exchange of ideas among establishments. It’s this passion for cuisine that guarantees consistency in our dishes. Furthermore, we’ve implemented rigorous procedures to maintain control from the moment products arrive until they reach the customer’s table. Every recipe is meticulously crafted, enabling our chefs to accurately reproduce the flavours we’ve envisioned. Additionally, no restaurant opening occurs without our presence, allowing us to spearhead team training.

Bottom right: Rocco Seminara
Bottom right: Rocco Seminara

Bagatelle celebrates the joy of living and the epicurean spirit of southern France. What do you do to incorporate a French touch into what you do?

French cuisine is at the very heart of our cuisine at Bagatelle. We rely on classic French techniques, high-quality ingredients and Mediterranean spices to strike a balance between tradition and modernity. This French heritage is what gives our dishes their unique character.

Where do you draw inspiration from when designing your menu?

My inspiration comes from numerous sources: local markets, my travels, encounters with producers, and, of course, the seasonality of ingredients. Each new dish is the result of reflections and momentary desires. My goal is to evolve the menus in line with my current inspirations, ensuring a consistently fresh and exciting culinary experience.

How would you describe your culinary journey?

My culinary journey is a perpetual learning adventure. Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work alongside chefs who allowed me to flourish and progress. This experience contributed to the development of an eclectic approach while remaining true to my Mediterranean roots. It allowed me to acquire various techniques, explore a multitude of flavours and draw inspiration from diverse culinary cultures. Today, my journey reflects this diversity, affording me the opportunity for constant growth in my profession.

What’s the one ingredient you couldn’t live without?

The ingredient I could never do without is olive oil. It’s truly a fundamental pillar of Mediterranean cuisine, and for me, it’s much more than just an ingredient; it’s an essence, a true culinary soul. Olive oil embodies the tradition and authenticity of the region, and its utility in the kitchen is invaluable. Its versatility is remarkable, as it can elevate the flavours of virtually any dish it touches. Whether it’s adding a delicate creaminess to a fresh salad, enhancing the flavour of grilled fish or imparting elegance to a simple pasta dish, it plays an essential role in creating exquisite flavours and taste balance. Ultimately, olive oil is more than an ingredient to me; it’s a constant source of inspiration and an invitation to explore the delights of Mediterranean cuisine.

Bagatelle's customers can expect a culinary experience infused with our philosophy and meticulous approach to preparing our dishes
Bagatelle’s customers can expect a culinary experience infused with our philosophy and meticulous approach to preparing our dishes

What are your thoughts on the London gastronomic scene?

The London gastronomic scene is truly captivating and incredibly diverse. London is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, and this diversity undoubtedly reflects in its cuisine. For me, as a chef, it’s an endless playground, a blank canvas where I can explore and create without limits.

What makes London so special in terms of culinary experiences is the multitude of creative talents expressing themselves. You’ll find chefs from all over the world, each bringing their unique vision and interpretation of cuisine. This creates a buzz of innovation and emerging trends that make London an exciting place for culinary professionals and food enthusiasts alike.

Moreover, London is a city that embraces experimentation. From Michelin-starred restaurants to street food establishments, boldness and creativity are encouraged. It’s a city that continually reinvents itself culinarily, meaning that every restaurant visit, whether traditional or avant-garde, is a unique experience. In summary, the London gastronomic scene is a true treasure for anyone passionate about food. It’s a place where you can discover the culinary richness that transcends boundaries and traditions, and where the excitement of novelty is always present.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

That’s an excellent question and, as you can imagine, managing a large number of restaurants leaves little room for leisure. However, outside of my professional responsibilities, I fully embrace every opportunity to explore new places, especially by discovering local restaurants in each country I visit. It’s a way for me to immerse myself in different culinary cultures, experience the authenticity of local cuisine and stay constantly updated on emerging trends.

Furthermore, I find great relaxation and a connection with nature in activities such as hiking in the forest and even foraging for wild herbs at times.

What’s next for Rocco Seminara?

The next step for me is to continue as the corporate chef and contribute to Bagatelle’s ongoing success, while also exploring new opportunities to develop other brands within the group. In addition to that, I have personal entrepreneurial projects that I plan to implement soon, including furthering the development of our training school in Mexico. I intend to bring these projects to fruition, aiming to broaden my professional horizons even more.


34 Dover St, London W1S 4NG; https://bagatelle.com/venues/london