A Culinary Star Shoots Across The Globe
Shane Osborn & St Betty
Though its dining scene has been permeated by foreign cuisines ever since the British claimed post-Opium War sovereignty, Hong Kong has enjoyed a particularly high-profile and diverse culinary moment in the sun in 2012, with a who’s who of the global super-chef world turning up Fragrant Harbour-side.
Most surprising and refreshing of these appearances has been that of Shane Osborn, the lauded former head chef and co-owner of London fine-diner Pied à Terre. After a 13-year, Michelin star-spangled run with the company, Osborn sold his shares and relocated to Hong Kong full-time in May to head up Alan Yau’s St Betty, and he sat down with us to talk dining culture, Sunday roasts and ‘Ferrari’ ovens.
Shane, how are you enjoying life in Hong Kong so far?
Hong Kong is an amazing city, everyone is cool and friendly. People say it has a really fast pace, but I find it a lot more relaxing than London!
Given you’ve lived and worked all over the world, what have you found to be the biggest challenge in moving from West to East?
The biggest challenge initially was understanding the dining culture. I love that Chinese style of having everything in to middle of the table to share, but it doesn't necessarily translate to a lot of the food that we do, because the dishes are created here to be eaten in their entirety. Other than that, it’s just that everything is new. I love walking to the markets to see what’s there, to watch the fish jumping out of the tanks, the see local produce, and all the different leaves. People are obsessed about food here, in a nice way.
You’ve always been a strong supporter of the locavore movement, how are you representing your philosophy on the St Betty menu, and in HK’s culinary world at large?
We do lunch and dinner seven days a week, brunch at the weekend and afternoon tea. So there are a lot of menus, and we are really trying to take as much inspiration from local produce as possible. The produce coming from the New Territories is organic so things sometimes have little blemishes, but the taste is delicious so we are trying to find ways to utilise produce regardless of how it looks. And we have a block of land out at Fan Ling we will start farming next year.
Can you tell us about some of St Betty’s signature dishes?
We do a dish with deep fried soft shell crab and a salad of raw Chinese squash, pumpkins, water chestnuts, a yuzu dressing and Japanese seaweed. It’s light and very summery. We do a dish called 21st Century Egg using the black egg white (of ‘thousand year’ egg), with Australian asparagus, hazelnuts and black truffle. We’ve also got a Josper, which is a Spanish charcoal oven and kind of like the Ferrari of ovens. It gives meat a fantastic charcoal crust and is unique to St Betty in Hong Kong.
How does the style of cooking here compare to what you were doing at Pied à Terre?
I’d say the food is simpler, in that it’s not fine dining, though it might look very elegant. I think good food should be accessible to everybody, and for the produce and the quality of the cooking, St Betty is a really good price and great consistency.
Tell us about the Sunday Roast?
You get really good beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, two types of vegetables, horseradish and rhubarb and apple crumble at the end. It’s one of the great meals, especially if it starts raining or it’s too hot outside, you can sit down with a newspaper and just chill out.
What inspires you?
People that are really passionate about food. This industry attracts a lot of unique, dynamic people and it’s great to see them grow within the industry and go off and forge their career. About 4 or 5 chefs I have trained have gone on to get Michelin stars, and that’s a really nice thing to see. It’s like a big family tree that keeps branching out.
If you had to sum up the St Betty experience in 5 words, what would they be?
Delicious, consistent, relaxed, evolving, humble.
Shop 2075, Podium Level, Two IFC Mall, Central /
+852 2979 2100 / http://www.stbetty.com