In the Resy Questionnaire, we play a game of 20 questions with the industry folks behind some of our favorite restaurants. What’s your most memorable restaurant experience? Your favorite food movie? What restaurant would you want to time-travel for?
In this edition, we spoke to Shaun Hergatt, the executive chef and owner of Vestry, a new fine dining establishment that opened in New York’s SoHo neighborhood last fall and has already gained a Michelin star in less than a year.
The Resy Questionnaire
1. Favorite thing you’ve ever cooked?
Back home in Cairns, Australia, my grandmother would always cook a spread of seafood and use vegetables from our garden. I saw her just before the pandemic and together, we cooked lobster, prawns, and fresh veggies from the farm, and it is such a special memory.
2. Kitchen tool or equipment you couldn’t live without?
3. What pantry items would you bring on a desert island?
Ketchup, mustard, Vegemite, garlic powder, and coffee.
4. What’s your favorite place to get a slice in New York?
One of my favorites is Village Square Pizza – the pepperoni is amazing.
5. Favorite cookbook?
A book that my father gave – a professional cookery book that he used when I was growing up. And when I was young, it was the recipes in that book that I used to teach myself how to cook.
6. Your drink of choice?
7. Favorite food movie?
8. Your ideal dinner party guest, dead or alive?
Paul Bocuse and Joël Robuchon.
9. What restaurant industry person do you admire the most and why?
I have had a variety of mentors throughout my career that have each brought me different things, including Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud. They have always supported me in many different endeavors that I have had in America.
10. The greatest restaurant experience of your life so far?
La Vague d’Or in St. Tropez with chef Arnaud Donckele.
11. Your greatest professional achievement?
Watching all of the people who work for me growing into successful chefs, executive chefs, businessmen, etc. One person in particular is Yannis Janssens – he was my pastry chef at The Setai and at SHO, and now he is the owner of a cooking school in Bangkok.
12. What single dish best describes your personality?
13. If you could go back in time, which restaurant would you dine at?
14. Your favorite meal from childhood?
The first fine dining experience I ever had as a kid was at Tawny’s in my hometown of Cairns. I’ll never forget what I ate: Lobster Thermidor – and a virgin piña colada.
15. Your wish for the restaurant industry?
Restaurants are the fabric of our culture and my hope is that we continue to rebuild our restaurant community, so that people have the opportunity to continue to make memories, which is the reality of what restaurants bring to people.
16. What do you wish you did better? What do you do well?
There are about a million things I wish I could do better, but one thing that I do well is that I’m consistent in all things that I do (for the most part). It’s part of my DNA.
17. If you could eat through a city for a day, where would you go?
Back to San Sebastián in Spain.
18. The one thing you can’t resist splurging on when you go out?
Delicious food and amazing wine.
19. What do you most value in restaurants?
The whole package.
20. It’s your last meal on earth, what are you eating?
A big bowl of ripe fruit.