The British-born executive chef of two-Michelin-starred Jaan by Kirk Westaway shares the dining places he frequents when he is back home

British chef Kirk Westaway’s life has always revolved around food, starting at a young age when he would pick fresh produce from his garden in Devon, southwest England with his family. That said, it was no surprise that he developed a natural love for the culinary arts, and enrolled in a local catering college in Exeter, England in 2006. Afterward, he honed his culinary skills at lauded establishments, including one-Michelin-starred Manoir de Lan Kerellec in France, Italian stalwart Tutto Bene in Melbourne, and two-Michelin-starred The Greenhouse in London. 

Currently, he is the executive chef of Jaan by Kirk Westaway where he whips up modern British cuisine that shines the spotlight on his English heritage. Having been based in Singapore for 10 years, he can't help but long for his favourite dining places back home.

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When was your last trip to the UK? How did you spend your holiday there?

Kirk Westaway (KW): My last trip to the UK was back in February 2020 for my mother’s 70th birthday. Looking back, I’m immensely thankful that I made it back just before Covid-19 changed our lives and reality. It was a wonderful family get-together to celebrate an incredible woman who continues to be an inspiration to me today. There, I also spent some time visiting new farms and artisanal producers to see what new produce I could bring back to guests at Jaan.

What do you miss most on the food/drink front when you are away from home or haven’t been back for a while?

KW: My mother’s home-cooked meals for sure. She is an excellent cook and her dishes are always so delightful, even with simple ingredients. Food is such an integral part of our family and it’s our tradition to get together to enjoy a Sunday roast at home. I do miss that convivial family meal around the dining table where we indulge in great food, conversations and laughter.

I also miss convenience food such as pies, pasties and scotch eggs from English bakers. These hot, ready-to-eat snacks are so deliciously comforting!

If you have visitors/guests with you, where do you ensure you always go to give them a real taste of Britain?

KW: My hometown in Devon is a real taste of Britain. The seaside town is surrounded by cheddar cheese farms, vineyards, distilleries, breweries, and offers some of the freshest produce you can find.

I will most certainly take visitors to the beach at my hometown of Exmouth for a coastal walk as the grandeur and picturesque views are simply breathtaking. On the drive there, I will also make a pit-stop at my go-to place to grab a pasty to enjoy during the journey. A pasty is a British baked pastry filled with meat and vegetables, most associated with Cornwall.

What is the first dish you eat when you return and where do you go for it?

KW: I’ll indulge in a full English breakfast at the iconic Ritz Restaurant at The Ritz in Mayfair, London. The elegant, hearty breakfast features the finest, freshest seasonal ingredients from around the country, and is served in a beautiful Baroque-style dining room that overlooks the calm oasis of Green Park.

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Where do you like to meet up with your old friends for food/drinks

KW: I usually meet my friends in London at Wetherspoon’s, a casual pub that offers comforting food and local beers. In Exeter, we’ll catch up at a gastropub to enjoy good food and local ale.

Is there anywhere else that you never miss visiting when you are back?

KW: I never miss doing a drive around my hometown to source for new artisanal producers and suppliers. I’m excited thinking about the various places I can visit during my upcoming trip as I’ll be exploring new cheese and dairy farms, as well as producers of wild boar meat and Devonshire Wagyu.

What are your favourite heritage dishes and where are some of the places you go to find them?

KW: My family’s Christmas roast, an elaborate version of the Sunday roast, is an all-time favourite of mine. It’s best enjoyed at home or at a gastropub that focuses on stunning local ingredients.

Back at home in Devon, the daily farmers’ markets offer an array of artisanal creations that truly reflect the local food culture. I can spend hours at these foodie havens savouring local delights. In Singapore, I’ll head to Marks & Spencer to get some of the finest British ingredients.

What do you always take back to Singapore with you when you leave the UK?

KW: My suitcase is always filled with a bounty of food items like clotted cream, fudge, local cheese and bottles of organic apple cider from a famous producer near my home!

Where do you go to find authentic flavours of home where you live?

KW: At home in Devon, the markets and farms are some of the best places to discover authentic flavours by artisan producers and the freshest seasonal ingredients like freshly caught seafood, fruits and vegetables. I usually go with a hearty appetite as there’s just so much to savour!

There are also numerous cheese farms located a short drive away in Devon. I like Quicke’s Cheddar at Exeter, an award-winning small-batch farm near my home where the cheese is handcrafted using milk from grass-fed cows and slow-matured to perfection. It’s an amazing experience that involves a tour where you can learn first-hand about the distinctive profiles of its various cheddar cheese and production. I do use their cheese in some of my creations at Jaan as they provide a huge depth in flavour from umami to buttery that is rich and intense.

Jaan by Kirk Westaway

City Hall/ Bras Basah
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