Multi-award winning and internationally renowned chef, Kirk Westaway is one of the most dynamic, creative and celebrated maestros on the Michelin star dining scene. Drawing from both his English heritage and strong culinary training under world-renowned chefs, Chef Kirk is recognised for his mastery in reinventing gastronomic classics that are easily received as comforting and refined.
Born in South West Britain, Chef Kirk has redefined JAAN by channelling his deeply rooted passion for natural flavours that are reminiscent of his childhood in England. His perpetually evolving menu embodies a seasonal philosophy to showcase British dining in a modern, refreshing light. From conceptualising his culinary direction and selecting the world’s best gourmet suppliers, to personalising bespoke tableware and curating specially designed furniture, subtle shifts in JAAN’s dining experience over the last four years have seen Chef Kirk and his team move towards a stronger emphasis on ‘Reinventing British’ – culminating in the eponymous rebranding of JAAN to JAAN by Kirk Westaway in June 2019.
Prior to JAAN, Chef Kirk worked and honed his skills in some of the best kitchens in the world under culinary masterminds such as Chef Alex Atala of D.O.M., Chef Raymond Patterson of Patterson’s London, as well as Chef Antonin Bonnet who formerly helmed the two Michelin-starred Greenhouse in London. Chef Kirk credits his friend and mentor, Chef Julien Royer of Odette, who was previously Executive Chef at JAAN, for opening his culinary chapter here in Singapore, where he has lived since 2011.
Enjoy the Five Questions with Chef Kirk Westaway!
1. What dishes in Reinventing British menus of recent couple of years are you most proud of and why?
Some of the favourite dishes include:
The salad is a visually stunning medley of more than 30 vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. The vegetables are served blanched or raw, complemented with the richness of beetroot puree, saltiness from the anchovy dressing and Scottish kombu. This dish is inspired by one of my favourite childhood dishes – a summer salad with vegetables that were picked fresh from my mother’s garden.
Summer’s Sweet Tomato with Basil and Olive
It showcases my favourite ingredient to use – Tomatoes. It is a classic combination of perennial tastes and versatile flavours that can be coaxed from the humble tomato. Taking centre stage is a vine-ripened ox heart tomato that is hollowed out and the trimmings are simmered in a piquant mix of vinegar, seasoning and spices for 6 hours, creating a sweet and spicy tomato ketchup that is meticulously piped back into the blanched tomato. Ensconced within is a refreshing combination of slow-roasted tomatoes, oregano, burrata cheese and dehydrated olives and basil sorbet.
2. We note that you enjoy working with vegetables, fruit and berries, seasonal produce like game and poultry, and of course seafood! Is there a reason why beef and lamb don’t particularly feature on your menus?
I do like to work with beef and lamb and they are consistently featured in the Summer and Spring menu. However, these meats are commonly available and I prefer to feature something unique and interesting for our guests as opposed to a heavy protein. Sourcing quality proteins can make a huge difference in terms of taste, and from a sustainability perspective as well.
3. Is there also an ingredient you’d like to work with in the future that you have not cooked with before?
I would like to have more vegetables-based dishes that showcase caramelised and natural sweetness of the vegetables. I grew up in the countryside and my family was vegetarian so a lot of the ingredients for our home cooked meals came straight from our garden. This made me very aware of preservatives and additives in ingredients. The first is to always uphold the integrity of the produce and translate the best of each ingredient onto the plate.
I always believe that food should be comforting and form emotional connections. It is my mission to present our guests with an unforgettable meal that evokes nostalgia through familiar yet elegant flavours of the finest seasonal produce the world has to offer.
4. Running and managing a two-Michelin star restaurant like JAAN is all-consuming. What motivates you each day to go in and do more of the same, push boundaries, get yourself and your team to excel to try harder, do better? Where does your day to day inspiration come from?
My dedicated and talented team inspires and motivates me every day. They have demonstrated unwavering passion to create one of the finest gastronomic experiences in Asia. We work alongside each other, standing shoulder to shoulder over countless lunch and dinner services to deliver the highest culinary service standards and exceptional experiences for our guests. We continually push ourselves even further and scale greater heights to ensure JAAN continues to have an indelible mark on our guests’ dining experience.
5. Five things we’d like to know about Chef Kirk:
Favourite Singaporean food/dish?
I especially enjoy chilli crabs. I find the sweet and spicy sauce outstanding. It is piquant with just the right amount of egg drop, elevates the chilli crab dish and brings out the natural sweetness of the crab.
Favourite past time besides cooking?
I enjoy a good run along East Coast Park.
Favourite sports to watch and play?
I enjoy cycling, running and also boxing, as I used to do it often when I was younger. I also enjoy watching football.
Any favourite other cuisines besides British? What else do you cook?
I’m a huge fan of curry and it’s a staple dish in the UK. It’s one of my favourite go-to dish when I want something that is easy to make.
Favourite ‘something else’ that you might like to share… travel destination, holiday spot, etc.?
It would have to be Japan. Besides the UK, it’s one of my favourite travel destinations. There is much to explore; love the food and people. I used to live in Brazil and Columbia when I was younger and I love it there too. The people are extremely hospitable, and the food is delicious.
Thank you Chef Kirk, for being a part of this interview and we look forward to more great things to come from you and your team!
About JAAN by Kirk Westaway
The restaurant seats 40 guests in a sophisticated interior that features curated furniture and a stunning Murano crystal and silver free-form chandelier that spans the entire length of the ceiling. JAAN by Kirk Westaway’s dining experience is further enhanced by breathtaking views of Singapore’s cityscape, stunning skyline, and the South China Sea. The culinary service is truly exquisite and together have become the hallmark of this multi-award winning restaurant.
JAAN by Kirk Westaway features an elegant private dining room that can be made for exclusive use for events through prior reservation, or opened up as an extension to the restaurant space. The room accommodates up to 8 guests for a truly exceptional destination dining experience.
Guests can choose from the beautifully designed Lunch and Dinner menus from Monday through Saturday, with fine wines and your favourite tipple to pair with your meal. JAAN by Kirk Westaway.
This article and interview is licensed by TripNTravel Marketing Services Singapore and first published at www.tripntravelms.com/news-views