Kirk Westaway and Umberto Bombana On Bringing The Best Of Two Worlds Together

The young chef de cuisine of Jaan and the chef-owner of Hong Kong's 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana talk about their experiences putting a four hands dinner together.
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Imagine sitting down to dinner and anticipating a wonderful experience — from the intuitive service staff, to the attention to detail that surrounds a pristine porcelain plate.

Now, imagine having that experience, times two.That's the beauty of four-hand dinners that have become increasingly trendy of late, with more chefs joining hands to create menus that showcase some of their best dishes.

"It’s a great opportunity for people to experience the best of both worlds. You get to experience the best of your favourite chefs and cuisines in one evening, in the same place," shares Kirk Westaway, chef de cuisine of one-Michelin-starred Jaan.

SEE ALSO: Kirk Westaway on how using edible flowers in food is more than just for visual effect
Westaway played host recently to veteran Italian chef Umberto Bombana from Hong Kong's three-Michelin-starred 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA, who shares this is his first time doing a chef collaboration in an intimate setting. Bombana has over 35 years of experience cooking in kitchens, and is also hailed as the 'King of White Truffles' in Hong Kong.

The idea for a four-hands dinner together was sparked off four months ago when Westaway visited the Hong Kong restaurant for lunch. Together, the pair then sat down over a couple of espressos after dinner service that same night and scribbled a working menu on a piece of napkin. One of the dishes Westaway really enjoyed was the homemade pappardelle with lamb ragout, for its "rich silky texture", and he knew it was a dish he wanted to put on the menu. Though Bombana had initial reservations about putting the lamb pappardelle on the menu, he saw how the consistency and flavours of the dish could be maintained in the intimate confines of 40-seater Jaan.

"Sometimes you believe something, but then you get a different perspective that changes how you think," says Bombana.
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Homemade tagliolini by chef Bombana, served at the four-hands dinner at Jaan
Homemade tagliolini by chef Bombana, served at the four-hands dinner at Jaan
Both chefs are well-versed in different cuisine styles — Westaway in modern European, and Bombana in classic Italian — yet their eight-course dinner menu plays up to both their strengths as well as a shared passion for excellent produce.

On the menu, for instance, is Westaway's signature Heirloom Tomato, a refreshing medley of chopped tomato varieties with basil sorbet that complements the rich full flavours of Bombana's famous lamb ragout pappardelle. The Mayura wagyu rib, shares Westaway, is a combined effort: "We decided to do a beef for the main course together, and picked out the Mayura rib for the dish. My role was to cook the rib (brined in salt, then dried and char-grilled), while chef Bombana prepared the garnishes."
Chocolate Espresso dessert by chef Kirk Westaway
Chocolate Espresso dessert by chef Kirk Westaway
While Westaway is no stranger to four-hand dinners, Bombana shares that such chef collaborations are a great way for him to see how younger chefs cook and how to create a magical experience for the guests: "Sometimes, you’re called to cook for an event and you do one dish for a big party. You have to serve 400 people, and cooking just becomes about controlling the heat and the timing.

"But on a smaller scale like this, you can really feel the expression of a chef in the plate (he puts out), and concentrate on quality for just a few tables.It's the full experience, and a pleasure for both the guests and for us as chefs to see food in a different way."
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