The last time we encountered chef Shaun Hergatt was in New York’s Financial District, when the Australian expat presided over SHO Shaun Hergatt, his eponymous restaurant tucked away in a scaffold-shrouded condo development.
Now he’s back, this time on the fringes of K-Town at Juni, his brand-new restaurant inside the charming Chandler Hotel. Unlike SHO, which trafficked in exotic, expense-account dishes like Tasmanian trout and urfa-spiced lamb loin, Hergatt’s new venture sees the chef looking closer to home for inspiration.
“I try to bring experiences to people,” he says over the phone, on break from a flurry of staff trainings and friends and family dining sessions. “Juni is all about celebrating what’s at the height of the season. SHO was very much a French-Asian situation, but I’m trying to steer clear of ethnicity here.”
Listening to Hergatt tell the story of his career, it’s easy to see where he gained his affinity for refined, sometimes far-flung ingredients—a life-changing trip to Paris introduced him to Ladurée macaron and jamón ibérico, while stints at the Ritz-Carlton in Sydney and New York’s Atelier, where he worked under the celebrated chef Gabriel Kreuther, introduced him to highend dishes and techniques. At Juni, he maintains his knack for painstakingly elegant creations, but this time the goal is to emphasize local produce.
“It’s not just about the four seasons. If a tomato is on the plate, it’s because it’s how it should taste right now,” he points out, explaining how he dreams up recipes around ingredients as they become available. Among his four, six, and 10-course tasting menus (there are also à la carte offering), diners can find options like Hudson Valley foie gras with Frog Hollow peach tartare and pistachio dust, and veal tenderloin with quinoa, burdock, and mizuna.
Thanks to his Scandinavian grandmother’s cooking talents and the influence of his father, a professional chef, Hergatt’s childhood revolved around food. “I’ve been in a commercial kitchen since I was five. You go to high school,” he says, “and then you do what you do.”
Here, the Aussie dips into his early food memories, reminisces about Paris, and praises former boss Gabriel Kreuther as he runs through the 10 dishes that left a striking imprint on his career.