Captain Kirk On Board再创高峰
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