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Shaun Hergatt at Obsession 2015

Shaun Hergatt at Obsession 2015

by Felicity Spector 26 January 2015

From Cairns in Australia, by way of New York: the widely acclaimed chef Shaun Hergatt is bringing his brand of modernist cooking to Lancashire - promising a menu full of surprises.

Felicity Spector has worked in national television journalism for nearly thirty years, but has now combined her day job with an increasing interest in food writing in her spare time.

Shaun Hergatt's latest Manhattan restaurant, Juni, has been awarded a Michelin star for a menu that echoes his childhood in Queensland and the bounty of the natural resources he grew up with.

He told me he was really excited to be taking part in Nigel Haworth's Obsession festival, joining leading chefs from all over the world. "Its my first visit to the North of England, so I'm really keen to see the beautiful surroundings and taste some of its wonderful sounding produce. I really enjoy taking my food to a different audience, too."

He's bringing some of his top team with him from the States: Juni's Head of Pastry, Mina, and his sous-chef Frances: "The ideas might be all mine, but without incredibly attentive and talented people working with me, how ripe can the experience be?"

The dinner he's dreamed up sounds exactly that: a dream. "I will be cooking some of my favourite dishes from Juni - a 'caterpillar' dish using pear panna cotta, petals, pear purée and huckleberry and pecan crumble, followed by a butternut velouté served with a selection of 'winter powders', a lobster and blood orange dish and then a beautifully dressed squab. Mina will finish off the evening with a chocolate, oats and lovage dessert."

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We're willing to bet that Lancashire has never seen anything like it. Shaun confesses, though, that his iconic 'Cherry Ripe' dish - a take on the classic Australian chocolate bar - won't be making an appearance. The intricate masterpiece includes a foie gras mousse, coconut espuma and a bitter dark chocolate powder, the whole thing made to look like a single, glossy cherry.

"It would have been impossible to recreate, as I couldn't bring over all the special moulds we need. Hopefully when Northcote's guests are next in New York, they might be able to pop into Juni and try it!"

But despite the time difference and the 3,000 mile distance, he will still be deploying his philosophy - intrinsically rooted in seasonality and terroir. "I have been able to speak with Nigel in great depth about the abundance and range of ingredients they have there in season at the moment. We've been talking through the menu as if we were in each other's kitchens!" It's an ideal marriage, he says: sourcing the best and ripest local Lancashire produce and applying his New York modernist style. "Luckily the North of England seems to be blessed with excellent game, seafood and organic vegetables."

After traveling all the way across the Atlantic - will there be any time to enjoy some of the other culinary excitement at Obsession? "There is going to be a bit of a cross over with chef Margot Janse from Le Quartier Francais, so I really hope to be able to try out some of her cooking backstage in the kitchen. I really admire what she is doing in South Africa, and I'm keen to taste some of her indigenous ingredients too." What a treat for Lancashire.

 
 
 

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Shaun Hergatt at Obsession 2015

 
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