Cap­tain Kirk On Board­再创高峰

ZbBZ (Singapore) - - PROFILE 人物 - TEXT TAN PIN YEN / 陈彬雁

Kirk West­away had big shoes to fill when he stepped into Julien Royer’s spot as JAAN’s chef de cui­sine last June, but the thought has not tripped him up.

He con­tin­ues boldly i n the foot­steps of his pre­de­ces­sor i n the use of top-grade sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents from around the world, while re­fresh­ing the menu with as­sertive­ness and charg­ing the kitchen with his i rre­press­ible en­ergy that can be dis­cerned in his cook­ing.

Royer had l ed JAAN to the 74th po­si­tion in the World’s Best Restau­rants rank­ing as well as the 11th po­si­tion in the Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants list when he was run­ning the restau­rant. West­away notes can­didly: “Many peo­ple have come in to crit­i­cise or to find fault with my food. Thank­fully, up till now, I am still get­ting pos­i­tive feed­back.”

West­away, who is win­ner of the San Pel­le­grino Young Chef 2015 (South-east Asia) com­pe­ti­tion, states that JAAN's com­mit­ment to el­e­gant pre­sen­ta­tion and us­ing the best sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents re­mains un­changed, given its sta­tus as an iconic restau­rant that show­cases the mod­ern French fine-din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

How­ever, his in­ter­pre­ta­tions of what that ex­pe­ri­ence means would — and should — dif­fer.

“I have i ntro­duced new dishes that show­case my per­sonal ap­proach to pre­sent­ing each in­gre­di­ent at its finest and stay­ing true to in­trin­sic char­ac­ter­is­tics of qual­ity pro­duce. My dishes are sim­ple but they of­ten sur­prise with in­tri­cate de­tail and com­plex­i­ties,” he says.

West­away makes lib­eral use of veg­eta­bles in his dishes. Take, for ex­am­ple, the Tomato Col­lec­tion, which fea­tures what looks like an or­di­nary tomato but which tastes es­pe­cially sweet and tasty thanks to the poach­ing of the heir­loom tomato in tomato broth and then cook­ing via sous vide to en­hance the flavour of the fruit.

More sur­prises await the diner upon cut­ting open the heir­loom tomato: An en­tire other tomato cubed and mixed with gherkins, ca­pers and oregano make up the fill­ing. As to how the tomato fill­ing was in­serted into the heir­loom tomato, he ex­plains that the tomato in the fill­ing is first de­hy­drated, and then re­hy­drated to its orig­i­nal form. Here, one can spot an­other dif­fer­ence from Royer's style, which is the use of more var­ied cook­ing tech­niques.

Basil is a nat­u­ral pair­ing for tomato and, here, West­away com­ple­ments the tomato with basil, gar­lic, Ja­panese cherry toma­toes of var­i­ous colours, buf­falo moz­zarella and a re­fresh­ing basil sor­bet along­side olive oil “pearls” and toasted bread for greater tex­ture. As the dish i s served, West­away makes an ap­pear­ance at the ta­ble and com­pletes the dish with a pip­ing of a light, yet ex­quis­ite, tomato foam, as if to say to the diner, “I made this dish”.

A num­ber of dishes on the new menu are com­pleted at the diner’s ta­ble. Apart from the Tomato Col­lec­tion, the vi­bran­thued Pump­kin Can­nel­loni, which fea­tures Ja­panese pump­kin paired with pick­led pump­kin and pump­kin sauce, i s fin­ished at the din­ing ta­ble with the pour­ing of the sauce. Through ges­tures like this, West­away creates op­por­tu­ni­ties for i nter­ac­tion with guests. “This is an­other dif­fer­ence. Guests can ex­pe­ri­ence my hos­pi­tal­ity style up close and per­sonal, and this sort of in­ter­ac­tion cer­tainly makes the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence quite dis­tinc­tive,” he says.

In his opin­ion, what JAAN cur­rently presents is an en­gag­ing din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that comes from the heart.

“I feel that the present JAAN of­fers a heart­felt and en­gag­ing din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that re­flects my per­son­al­ity, and a cui­sine that feels strik­ingly gen­uine to en­gage din­ers,” he says. “I like to draw on my per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences and mem­o­ries to in­clude el­e­ments that evoke an emo­tional con­nec­tion and de­liver fa­mil­iar com­fort­ing plea­sures that din­ers can re­late to and re­mem­ber the meal by. The food that I cre­ate is able to take each diner to a mem­ory, pre­sent­ing an ex­pe­ri­ence that i s mod­ern yet nos­tal­gic.”

He be­lieves that his use of con­tem­po­rary and so­phis­ti­cated tech­niques also en­hances the mod­ern fine-din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. “The fish and chips, which is part of the amuse-bouche se­lec­tion, is an apt ex­am­ple. What I have done is to draw on the flavour ref­er­ences of the hum­ble dish and el­e­vate them, but the essence of the dish re­mains and it brings back those com­fort­ing mem­o­ries when guests en­joy the snack.”

West­away, who grew up in the Bri­tish dairy cen­tre of Devon, was a veg­e­tar­ian in his early years. His mother was a chef and a veg­e­tar­ian, and he has mem­o­ries of har­vest­ing veg­eta­bles in the fam­ily gar­den. Hav­ing spent much of his child­hood by the sea, he re­calls how he of­ten waded into the wa­ters to catch seafood for cook­ing. Th­ese mem­o­ries are now dis­tilled in dishes such as the Lan­gous­tine Can­nel­loni and Ja­panese Saba Mack­erel With Av­o­cado And Or­ganic Radish.

On his hopes for JAAN, West­away notes that JAAN is now both a Sin­ga­pore and re­gional icon for mod­ern French din­ing.

Kirk West­away takes over as JAAN’s new chef de cui­sine, bring­ing with him Devon mem­o­ries, as­sertive cook­ing styles and a take-charge



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