With Ormer Mayfair set to open this month, Head Chef Shaun Rankin talks to The Resident about culinary inspiration, Jersey shores and receiving his first Michelin star
Words: Rachel Mantock
It all began when Shaun Rankin was 16-years-old. A Yorkshire native thrown into the Mayfair deep end, walking into a kitchen packed with over 100 chefs, 14 of whom were French and his grasp of the language was minimal. Today, with one Michelin star under his belt, a hit Jersey restaurant, Ormer, and a second branch set to open this month at Flemings Mayfair Hotel, Rankin has come a long way since his first taste of the London dining scene as a teenager.
‘At 16, I hadn’t experienced life at all,’ he reflects. ‘It was honestly all quite daunting. However, it was a really good start for my career. I really got stuck in and I loved everything London had to offer.’
Thinking back to the most mind blowing learning curve he ever experienced in his career, something that shaped the way he approaches food to this day, Rankin names Chicago’s Charlie Trotter’s restaurant as the game changer.
‘He was just using ingredients in such a unique way,’ he explains, ‘in ways I had never even thought to use them before. At the time, it was the best restaurant in the world. You had things like fresh Alba truffles the size of baby heads coming through the door, along with massive Shiitake mushrooms from Japan and Kobe beef when it first come onto the market. Kobe beef was virtually unheard of in London at that point. Charlie Trotter’s was at the forefront of the explosion of Asian influenced food. It was a great learning experience working with him.’
Rankin describes being awarded his first Michelin star for Ormer in Jersey as ‘the best feeling in the world’ and ‘like a dream come true’. His ethos is to strive for the best always, having worked hard his entire career and finally being given the chance to cook what he wanted. ‘The Michelin star was truly a life’s accomplishment, how I felt at the time is unexplainable.’
His love affair with Jersey started at 20 and it has influenced his cooking style ever since. The Edenic Jersey produce has weaved itself into his integral chef’s fabric. After a brief time away from the island, Rankin returned because he realised there was nowhere else that offered the same pool of ingredients. ‘It was like my own little kitchen garden,’ he enthuses, ‘full of shoreline and foraged ingredients, like lobsters, oysters and asparagus.’
His love affair with Jersey started at 20 and it has influenced his cooking style ever since. The Edenic Jersey produce has weaved itself into his integral chef’s fabric
Despite being comfortably at home in Jersey, Rankin was always keen to get back to the London dining scene. Ormer Restaurant’s unique selling point is Jersey produce, something that Rankin knew would do well in Mayfair, along with sustainable British produce thrown into the mix. ‘When I first started the meetings with Flemings, we discovered that our passions were similar,’ says Rankin. ‘We built a great friendship that progressed on the basis that we both had a wonderful understanding of what we wanted.’
Ormer Mayfair will share twin qualities with Ormer Jersey in the form of the dishes, with a selection appearing on the menus of both venues, such as oysters, saffron caviar and lobster ravioli with crab bisque and lemongrass. The lobster ravioli is a local favourite in Jersey, with guests coming back time and time again for its coastal freshness. ‘We want to offer a little bit of everyday luxury at affordable prices,’ Rankin explains, ‘for our guests to be sat in sumptuous surroundings with great design, while being hyper focused on customer service and attention to detail.’
Opening a restaurant is not an easy game, expectations are always high. So, in everything we do from now on, we have to absolutely deliver
With Ormer Mayfair being hyped up, Rankin says he does feel pressure to excel, despite being humbled by the swarm of praise he has received. ‘We don’t want to start singing and dancing about what we could achieve,’ he says. ‘We would rather just achieve it and let people critique it after that. Opening a restaurant is not an easy game, expectations are always high. So, in everything we do from now on, we have to absolutely deliver.’
Of the London dining scene, Rankin says it’s ‘one of the top three destinations to eat in the world, a leading city when it comes to food’. In that case, Ormer Mayfair is in good company.