Painting nature: Chef Shaun Hergatt at JUNI New York
At Juni New York, Australian Chef Shaun Hergatt creates lifetime memories for guests with a highly technical yet deeply personal fine dining experience. His vibrant dishes relay the beauty of nature and recall the Chef`s childhood in remote Queensland.
Juni sits discretely in the shadows of Empire State Building and skyscrapers of midtown, a jewellery box filled with nature’s finest gifts. In this elegant space is found a restaurant where each element, from the overall design to the cocktails, focuses on emphasizing nature at its best.
Loosely translating to “the heart of the season,” the boutique restaurant, which opened in August 2013 and is set within Manhattan`s Hotel Chandler, offers menus that are highly responsive to the many micro-seasons within a year. Chef Hergatt who obtained 2 Michelin stars for his previous restaurant SHO, champions only the ripest of produce at Juni, so ingredients may only feature for a few weeks and then are retired for the year.
“At Juni I talk about seasonality. But for me it means so much more than 4 seasons. I pick the ripest and finest product available at that time and serve it as the star. To make it onto the menu, produce has to be at its very ripest..and having grown up on a farm where I learnt how to cook straight from the earth, ‘ripeness’ comes as second nature to me.” Shaun Hergatt
Chef Hergatt`s observations and musings on nature are lovingly captured and exquisitely executed on the plate. In the joyfully entitled `The Frog and The Fava Bean`, Hergatt uses the seed, shoot and blossom of a single plant culminating in a dish which looks as if it has been freshly plucked straight from the soil, whilst the nostalgic ` Cherry Ripe` is both an homage to the Australian chocolate bars Hergatt ate as a child and also to the beauty and simplicity of the cherries he used to pick from his friend`s backyard.
“Childhood memories are central to my cooking. Not only because my childhood taught me how food should taste but because most of my early memories revolve around nature- taking watermelons from the garden down to the river and only going home when I’d finished eating the whole thing, planting seeds with my grandmother, picking and eating the cherries that grew in my mate’s yard..all of these memories are important to me and come through in my food, from making sure my produce at Juni is just as fresh as those cherries and watermelons I picked, to recreating the flavours and textures I loved so much growing up.” Shaun Hergatt
Known for his skilled technique, artistic plating and ability to bring forth vibrant flavours, Chef Hergatt utilizes nature’s colorful palate. Whilst Hergatt’s menu may sound minimalist with descriptions simply stating each dish’s ingredients such as mustard blossoms – goat cheese agnolotti – local ramps or young carrots – organic rabbit – green peppercorn, the punchy flavours and impressionistic presentations are anything but. Diners are encouraged to experience the cuisine via ten, six and four-course tasting menus, featuring “of-the-moment” ingredients whenever possible.
The accessible and diverse drinks menu employs the same philosophy as the kitchen with Chef Hergatt creating a list of cocktails many featuring vegetables and herbs, some of which are grown in pots at the hotel prior to being picked and transformed. For dessert, the concise menu by Pastry Chef Mina Pizarro mirrors Hergatt’s focus on complex flavors with creations including chestnut – chicory – coconut and chocolate – sweet potato – bay leaf.
Juni’s elegant, clean design is the ideal backdrop, keeping the focus on the table and allowing Chef Hergatt’s culinary artistry to shine. The walls are lined with photographs showcasing the bounty of the harvest – a collaboration between artist Carol Dunn and Chef Hergatt. The bar features marble countertops while the tables’ chargers are speckled with an eggshell-like texture chosen to represent life’s beginning.
12 East 31st Street
New York, NY 10016
+1 (212) 995-8599
Lunch: Monday-Friday: 12:00PM-2:30PM
Dinner: Monday-Thursday: 5:30PM-10:00PM
Friday and Saturday: 5:30PM-10:30PM
Lunch Set Menu: 5 course ($50)
Lunch Vegetarian Tasting Menu: 5 course ($50)
Dinner Tasting Menu: 4 course ($90), 6 course ($120) and Chef`s Tasting ($180)