Chef Kirk Westaway Comes Into His Own At The Revamped Jaan, An Ode To His Devon Roots

The British chef has opened a new chapter in his culinary career in Singapore.
by Kenneth SZ Goh

Photo: Jaan by Kirk Westaway

An enthralling shower of Murano glass crystals blossoms from a sprawling bronzed hawthorn tree trunk that sparkles in the morning sun and shimmers after hours. This captivating sight is the centrepiece at the recently-revamped two-Michelin-starred restaurant Jaan by Kirk Westaway in Swissotel The Stamford.

The modern British restaurant re-opened last December after undergoing an overhaul of its interiors, which has been dominated by a 20-year-old Murano glass chandelier that zig-zagged across the restaurant on the 70th storey of Swissotel The Stamford.

The hand-blown glass installation has been upcycled into the floor-to-ceiling tree centrepiece. A sense of cosiness has been injected with seafoam blue banquettes accented by overhanging lamps. But more importantly, it is the subtle touches in the interiors that speak volumes about Executive Chef Kirk Westaway’s growing-up years in Devon, a sea-side town in south-west England.

In an interview with The Peak, Westaway says: “The new space carries with it my thoughts and emotions, paying homage to my hometown, Devon, which is also the root of my culinary creations.

The restaurant’s walls are accentuated by textured wallpaper that showcases abstract brush strokes reminiscent of clouds, coupled with a deep blue gradient carpet. This pairing is meant to evoke a carefree feeling of gazing at the ocean while standing on the ancient cliffs of Devon.

“I’m particularly fond of an art piece in the restaurant that looks similar to the ocean, as my family home was a five-minute drive to the ocean,” he points out.

Credit: Jaan by Kirk Westaway

On his favourite spots in the restaurant, he shares: “I enjoy looking at the Devon-inspired abstract art pieces near the entrance before being led into the restaurant, and standing before the Murano glass crystals structure The centerpiece is absolutely stunning, especially at night as it is set against the backdrop of Singapore’s magnificent city views.”

Food-wise, the restaurant’s transformation to modern British cuisine is still going strong five years after it was introduced.

One of the menu’s newcomers is the Hen’s Egg Cornish Yarg Nettles, an innovative take on British eggs and soldiers with the inclusion of Cornish Yarg and freshly blanched  stinging nettles. This dish is also inspired by a common British childhood memory — getting a burning sensation on the legs while cycling in the countryside.

On the menu: More British cheeses and ingredients

Credit: Jaan by Kirk Westaway

On the menu, Westaway shares: “I will be featuring more vegetables and seafood, and less animal protein. At the heart of it, it still encapsulates my creative inspiration and a produce-driven culinary  philosophy. We are always on the lookout for ingredients from organic farms across the UK.”

More British cheeses have been added to the cheese trolley. They include Baron Bigod, a well-loved brie-style cheese from Suffolk. Westaway shares: “ It is from an area where it rains a lot so the grass is wet and fat, which aids in the production of high quality milk.  We took this cheese and mixed it with black truffle and hazelnut before sealing it back in the rind  where it ages for a while more before being served to guests.”

Also new is the Devonshire Cheddar Cheese, from the south of Devon. The cheese has rich, brothy and savoury flavours with an almost crystalline texture that melts in the mouth.

For the current Spring season, Jaan’s pantry is being stocked with British asparagus, English peas, Scottish scallops and Welsh lamb. The season will also coincide with an upcoming four-hands dinner with Alex Dilling, Executive Chef of the eponymous restaurant at Hotel Café Royal in London. Dilling headed two-starred The Greenhouse in London.

Coming into his own

Credit: JAAN

It hasn’t been all smooth-sailing transforming the menu at Jaan, which used to serve modern European cuisine with a French slant, to modern British.

Westaway recalls: “The concept of British cuisine was unfamiliar to many, and people usually associate it with fish and  chips or bangers and mash; certainly not fine dining. Coupled with the changing tastes of  consumers who are getting more discerning, it was a gamble having to take calculated risks at  the beginning and people were skeptical.”

However, he steadfastly held on to his vision and gradually infused more British elements into the menu, which became interpretations of the food that he grew up eating in the UK. In 2019, Jaan was re-named to incorporate his name, a nod to the confidence he had with the new culinary direction and the restaurant also picked up the second Michelin star along the way. “I’m glad I’ve managed to change  people’s perception of British cuisine,” he adds.

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