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Chefs Under 35: Chef Kirk Westaway from Jaan
Helming the kitchen at Jaan, Kirk Westaway places emphasis on a philosophy of showcasing the best produce while invoking nostalgia through his food.
Kirk Westaway, 32
In this series, we meet chefs under 35 whose restaurants were awarded stars in Singapore’s Top Restaurants 2017/2018.
When British chef Kirk Westaway took over the reins of Jaan two years ago from mentor Julien Royer, the pressure was on to uphold the formidable quality and reputation of the restaurant. “I put every part of my life outside Jaan on hold. I was in the kitchen 20 hours a day. The first two years were challenging, but I was determined to remain focused and make a mark for myself,” he said. With him at the helm, Jaan obtained one Michelin star last year and hung on to it this year. Wine & Dine also recognised its stellar standards with two stars on our Singapore’s Top Restaurants guide this year.
Westaway’s culinary philosophy rests on highlighting the best of seasonal produce and evoking nostalgia and emotions through his meals. His finesse is evident in two of his signature dishes. In Westaway’s heirloom tomato collection, a vine-ripened heirloom tomato is cooked sous vide in tomato consommé, stuffed with a combination of oxheart tomatoes, gherkins, capers and oregano, then served with burrata and basil sorbet. The base ingredient is simple, but dimensions of flavour are teased out through elaborate preparation. Another is Alaskan king crab, in which the crustacean is wrapped in pickled kohlrabi and paired with pea panna cotta, sea urchin, Oscietra caviar and a quenelle of fromage blanc sorbet.
There’s no rest for the wicked as this chef is constantly sourcing for ideas. Travel to Taiwan is on the cards to explore the vegetables and fruit there. Meanwhile, his current project is a new egg dish, a flare egg custard with egg yolk, caviar, smoked mushrooms, brioche and parmesan. “If you separate egg whites and yolks, you either get an end product that is too bland or too rich. A huge part of the R&D process was separating both elements and recombining them in different ways. It’s a long process that required a lot of testing. Finally, we got to this end product that checked every box for me.”