Michelin-starred chef Shaun Rankin talks black truffles, Jersey Royals and the most exciting new trend on the gastronomic block
Did you always want to be a chef?
I grew up in North Yorkshire and I inherited my initial love of food and cooking from my mother. On rainy days when I couldn’t go out to play, I’d help my mum in the kitchen. At the age of 16, I left school and started my culinary career with an apprenticeship at The Mayfair Hotel in London.
How would you sum up your style of cooking? Has it evolved over the years?
For me it’s all about fresh, seasonal ingredients cooked simply and honestly. I particularly enjoy English and French cuisine and use a combination to inspire my dishes. Over the past few years I’ve also become inspired by herbs and plants foraged from the sea line and woodlands – it’s a really exciting gastronomic trend and I use a variety of sea herbs in the dishes at Ormer (above) in Jersey and 12 Hay Hill (below) in London.
What resonates as a milestone in your culinary career?
Opening Ormer in Jersey in 2013 and then being awarded our first Michelin star after only four months. It was an amazing journey and a lot of credit goes to my fantastic team who worked their socks off. To then have the opportunity to bring our Channel Island ingredients and style to Hay Hill in London has really topped it off and brought me back to where my career all began.
What would you say are your favourite ingredients to work with?
In the winter months I enjoy working with vibrant vegetables, such as beetroot and flavoursome produce like celeriac and cauliflower. On the more extravagant side it’s also the time for black truffles and a variety of excellent game such as rabbit and venison. When it comes round to March we’re all heavily anticipating the arrival of the first crop of Jersey Royal Potatoes which I love to cook simply with fresh mint and serve with melting butter. By April we are also enjoying some of my favourites wild garlic and Jersey asparagus. By summertime I look forward to the freshness of beautiful watercress and green beans as an accompaniment to the migration of fish such as pollock, red mullet and Dover sole.
Memorable meals to me are not just about the food; they’re all about the occasion and the company. Some of my most memorable meals have been with family and friends in France, grazing over cheese, ham and freshly baked bread from the local markets.
Which other chefs do you admire?
There are so many but I would have to say Raymond Blanc at Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Kenny Atkinson from House of Tides restaurant, and Nigel Haworth, chef patron of Northcote in Lancashire.
Person you would most like to cook for?
I would love to cook for my entire family, unfortunately everyone is spread out all over the world so we are very rarely in the same place. But if we were in the same place I would love to sit down together and have Sunday lunch.
Favourite restaurant and why?
At the moment I really enjoy Hakkasan in Mayfair. They do fantastic modern Cantonese cuisine and there’s some really unique dishes. You’ve got to try the black truffle roast duck and the sliced blue abalone in Hakka sauce.
In December 2014 you were selected to manage the food and beverage offering of members club 12 Hay Hill in Mayfair. Can you tell us about it?
The business club offers members a luxurious environment in which to work and socialise all under one roof. The culinary offering includes a high-end brasserie and deli-style dining in the basement bar. Every menu is bountiful with Jersey produce when in season, bringing something different to our diner’s experience. The menus are designed to meet the demands of the modern day London business executive with flexible options for all day dining, satisfying every need from casual grazing to luxurious dining. Members can enjoy a range of healthy salads such as ‘Quinoa, Pomegranate & Orange’, more traditional dishes such as ‘35 day aged Cote de Boeuf’ and dishes for seafood lovers such as ‘Dover sole with fish pie flavours’.
What next for 2016? Any more restaurants or projects in the pipeline?
I have joined the Flemings Mayfair Hotel team to launch a new restaurant in 2016. I have been signed to the hotel as part of their £14million refurbishment programme. This new venture will run alongside my current Jersey restaurant Ormer and 12 Hay Hill in London. I have also been filming some pilots for TV so watch this space!