Australian Chef Shaun Hergatt is a Manhattan-based classically trained, creative modernist. Renowned for his technically precise cooking and painterly presentations, Hergatt is inspired by childhood memories, nature, art and his daily life in New York.
“Many of the dishes reflect my observations of nature, whether that’s something I’ve noticed walking my dog around Central Park or out in the fields with my farmer in Ohio. Even a childhood memory of planting seeds or picking cherries with my grandmother can be the inspiration I use. Growing up, nature was an important part of my education. When you’ve pick a ripe guava fruit that hasn’t been treated with pesticides, you know what that fruit looks and tastes like at its very best. Respecting ingredients is something that is central to my heritage, upbringing and my day to day life.”
Growing up in a culinary-oriented family in rural Queensland, Chef Hergatt was enamoured with cooking and nature from a young age. He was exposed to a unique combination of impassioned and professional cooking by way of his Scandinavian grandmother and his father, a professional chef.
At 17, the ever-ambitious Hergatt, pursued a four-year apprenticeship at Crystal Twig, a fine dining restaurant in Cairns where he was trained in classical French cuisine. He then moved to Sydney to experience the city’s dining culture and in 1997, at the age of 23, became chef de cuisine of The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Sydney, where he quickly earned national and international accolades including an AHA “Best Young Chef” award. In 2000, Chef Hergatt moved to the United States and joined Atelier at The Ritz-Carlton, Central Park in New York City as chef de cuisine. During his time there, the restaurant received a James Beard nomination for “Best New Restaurant” and The New York Times awarded it three stars. After five years he moved south to become the executive chef at The Setai in Miami, which garnered a three-star review from The Miami Herald, and a “Best New Restaurant” award from Esquire. The restaurant also placed second in the world on Conde Nast Traveler’s “Gold List” in both 2008 and 2009.
Chef Hergatt returned to New York in 2009 to open his eponymous restaurant, SHO Shaun Hergatt in the Financial District. Channelling his passion for hospitality and his prestigious background, Chef Hergatt’s talent brought unparalleled acclaim to the neighbourhood’s culinary landscape and he was recognized as “Best New Chef” by New York magazine. The restaurant received 2 Michelin stars, a 29 out of 30 Zagat rating across the board and “Best New Restaurant” accolades from Esquire and New York magazine.
Shaun Hergatt conceived and created Juni restaurant which opened at the end of 2013 and was awarded “Best New Restaurant” by Esquire Magazine.
Describe your culinary philosophy in3words…
Lifetime memories, ripe, perfection.
What is your greatest inspiration?
Inspiration comes from all aspects of life. The other day I saw a nasturtium plant. I picked it from the stem and I put it on the plate and then created a dish around how beautiful it looked. In the dish the Frog and the Fava Bean, I was so blown away by the Fava Bean at the Chef’s Garden in Ohio that I wanted to use the seed, the shoot, the plant and the blossom all on the plate. My designs are inspired by nature, every detail I see in life brings me ideas.
If you could take a plane ride to anyrestaurant in the world, just for one meal, where would you go?
There are so many restaurants that I love visiting around the world, especially in London, Bangkok and Scandinavia but I’d have to say thatin 2002 was the best restaurant experience I have ever had. I time-travel back to a dish I had there- itwas very simple- half a peach with some peach sorbet- but was one of the most sublime things that I have ever tasted. If you pluck the most deliciously ripe, 100% organic ingredient straight from nature, there really isn’t anything better.
What four things would you take to a desert island?
- Purple Starfruit – fresh, ripe and chilled. It’s nature’s gift, you can’t replicate it. I don’t need to eat at the Fat Duck if I can have a Starfruit! There’s no chef in the world that can make something that delicious. I don’t think anyone will ever replicate something as original as what nature has produced.
- A bottle of Scotch
- My dogs!
- Some Cadbury’s Dairy Milk
- Best New Restaurant, 2013 | Juni |Esquire Magazine
- 2 Michelin stars | SHO Shaun Hergatt
- 29/30 |SHO Shaun Hergatt
- Best New Chef | New York Magazine
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