Chef Kirk Westaway of JAAN
Chef de cuisine, JAAN
Hailing from a small seaside town in Devon on the Southwest coast of England, chef Kirk Westaway has traversed the world, working in places like London, France and South America before he landed in Singapore. Under his leadership (since 2015), JAAN has been awarded one Michelin star for three consecutive years, and has made a consistent appearance on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. It clinched 44th place this year.
Check out chef Westaway’s latest Britishinspired menu at JAAN, which is built around a passion to showcase the freshest ingredients through simple but beautiful dishes that reflect both culinary tradition and creativity. The British chef looks to home for his inspiration and either uses ingredients from Britain or interprets English classic dishes such as fish and chips in an original way.
How has the concept of fine dining changed over the years?
I believe that fine dining has taken on a healthier approach over the years, with more restaurants making a shift towards using more vegetables, shellfish and grains, which are more delicate and much lighter compared to other produce.
At JAAN, I have been moving away from strong animal protein and using more vegetables and seafood. Personally, I enjoy eating dishes made with fresh vegetables. Since my approach to cooking has always been produce-driven and seasonal, I’ve integrated these elements into my summer menu at JAAN, where guests can get a taste of British summer such as purple cauliflower and sugar snaps.
From your observations, what are diners looking for when they go out to dine in a top restaurant?
Diners are looking for something that they can’t recreate at home—for instance ingredients that they can’t find in local supermarkets and a unique dining experience.
Has the notion of fusion cuisine changed?
Diners these days are well travelled and educated, hence they are more accepting of fusion cuisine.
Since taking over the reins of JAAN three years ago, I’ve slowly infused my own personal touches to the restaurant’s culinary philosophy and dining experience. My new philosophy of ‘Reinventing British’ marks a fusion of my British heritage, personal experiences and culinary techniques, to deliver a unique modern British dining experience to an international audience.
I also incorporate a variety of local ingredients in my dishes such as gulu melaka, which takes centre stage in my strawberry cheesecake dessert, and is incorporated as a natural sweetener in some of my sauces. However, despite these hints of local ingredients, the experience and direction remain wholly and authentically British.
Tell us about your new dishes.
I’ve just launched a brand new menu, centred on my philosophy of ‘Reinventing British’. One of the highlights is the fish and chips snack, where I’ve transformed the traditionally simple fare of fish and chips into a delicate mini tartlet. Another favourite is the English Garden, which is a combination
of seasonal vegetables such as baby carrots, Romesco leaves, kohlrabi, tomatoes, baby gem lettuce, white cauliflowers, broccolis and radishes.
What are some unique produce that you’re experimenting with right now?
I’m experimenting with a unique Scottish kombu, which I used to make the dashi base for my blue chipper potato truffle soup dish. As the only chef in Singapore who sources from this particular kombu producer in Scotland, I’m very excited to be able to support small businesses and also introduce new produce to diners in Singapore.
What’s next for JAAN?
Arriving at the new menu philosophy of ‘Reinventing British’ has been a huge and exciting change for my team and I. We can’t wait to see what this new chapter at JAAN will bring. Moving forward, I will continue to evolve the menu to ensure it remains fresh, current and inspiring, through the use of new techniques, fresh ingredients or plating style. Most importantly, the dishes will showcase British dining in a modern, refreshing light.