"Childhood memories are central to my cooking. Not only because my childhood taught me about instinct and how food should taste but because most of my early memories revolve around nature — taking watermelons from the garden as a kid down to the river and only going home when I’d finished eating the whole thing; planting seeds with my grandmother; picking and eating the cherries that grew in my mate’s yard….all of these things are so important to me and come through in my food, from making sure my produce at Juni is just as fresh as those cherries and watermelons I picked, to recreating the flavours and textures I loved so much growing up. A dish I’ve created here at Juni [called] Cherry Ripe is a perfect example of how I like to translate my memories — both nostalgic and observations of nature — onto a plate. Made of chocolate, coconut and cherries, this dish is an homage to the Australian chocolate bars I used to eat when I was a kid but also to the beauty and simplicity of those cherries I used to pick. I think this is something that is really individual and that people can associate with my cooking."
"One of my favourite dishes at Juni is called The Frog and The Fava Bean. I was so blown away by the fava beans growing at the Chef’s Garden in Ohio that I wanted to use the seed, the shoot, the plant and the blossom all on one plate. Even with your eyes closed you can just feel that it is green. You can taste the chlorophyll. When you bite into the shoot it has a clean flavour, a really exquisite taste and texture to it, so when you pluck it out of the ground it is ready to go.”
“When I was working at Atelier, we had kilos of black and white truffles which we would shave over bruschetta with foie gras from the Hudson Valley. At Juni in the winter, when white truffles are at their peak, I make an heirloom polenta agnolotti and shave the truffle over the top, table-side. I also like to make a vanilla bean ice-cream which I shave Alba white truffle over.”
“When you’ve seen and tasted guava fruit ripe on the tree, that hasn’t been treated with pesticides, you know what that fruit looks and tastes like at its very best. You inspect them and learn to respect them, which is why I pay so much attention to presenting my dishes with as much passion and beauty as I can. Respecting ingredients is something that is central to my heritage, upbringing and my day to day life. The true fact in life is that if you pluck the most delicious, 100% organic, sun ripened ingredient straight from the earth, there is nothing better.”
Shaun Hergatt, JUNI (juninyc.com)