Shaun Rankin, Bohemia, Jersey

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st August 2012

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Yorkshire-born Shaun Rankin has been capably fulfilling the role of head chef at St Helier’s Bohemia restaurant since 2003. A jewel in the Jersey capital’s crown since its arrival and subsequent Michelin endorsement, the well-known Bohemia restaurant benefits from Shaun’s impressive culinary creativity and skill with the chef regarded by The Good Food Guide as, “a chef at the top of his game”. The Bohemia menu makes much use of the local Jersey produce, which Shaun evidently takes great pride in with the intention of sourcing as many ingredients locally as is possible. The chef has spent most of his career working in Jersey, having worked at Longueville Manor and its sister restaurant, Susas, before taking his position as head chef at Bohemia. His successes in the kitchen have also more recently taken him to find success on the small screen, representing the southwest on BBC Two’s Great British Menu (with a winning treacle tart) and subsequent appearances on the popular cooking show Saturday Kitchen.

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Shaun Rankin first and foremost thanks for inviting us in. We’ve finally got here to Jersey. Yes, you battled the fog but you made it here eventually to our little island, welcome! Talk us through your role here at Bohemia in Jersey please Shaun. My role at Bohemia has changed significantly from when we opened nine years ago. When we first opened Bohemia it was a 34 cover restaurant and we were operational six days a week and it was very straightforward. We had about seven in the team, quite an easy business to run but we all worked very hard - 14, 15 hours a day. At the time the owners of the restaurant also owned the building next door, which was an old style three star hotel. The owners were extremely happy with how Bohemia progressed over the first two years, how it worked out and how it shaped up as a restaurant, so they decided to invest more money into the hotel which is now The Club Hotel and Spa. It took a few years to bed both entities in and then to reform and then this year we’ve become a seven days operation for Bohemia the restaurant and the hotel. So again it’s another push for me and the team, which is exciting for the premises. It’s difficult with hotels and restaurants that are run separately, it can often be very disjointed, so we’ve created a single format operationally and it works very well. So yes, it’s year for us here at Bohemia! So nine years, one operation, how have you and your food style evolved in that time? Over nine years food styles have changed dramatically and even though we are not a slave to food fashion at Bohemia we have changed with the times and we’ve gone from one extreme to another to continue to captivate diners. Give us an example of that change Shaun? We’ve followed patterns in food trends through from sous vide water bath cooking techniques and slow cooking, all the way through to welcoming elements like micro herbs. Now foraging and nature is core and we’ve got an abundance of ingredients over here in Jersey which we can locally forage from the sea line and woodlands, such as mushrooms, sea purslane, seaweeds, chick weed, mustard cress, and wild carrots - it’s all here on the Island, you just need to go out and find it. So evolving in cooking and evolving in ingredients as well has been part of the change that we’ve gone through in that nine years. When you opened Bohemia what was the aspiration? What was the goal? When I first opened Bohemia there wasn't a serious restaurant in town, in St Helier, and my goal was to bring that into St Helier and we did that within the first 12 months. So did your bosses say to you, “We want a star?” Yes correct, at the interview stage they sent me a letter outlining their plans for Bohemia and what it was going to be and they needed, what they wanted it to be, and they needed somebody to take it there. They said they would want a star in St Helier at Bohemia. So luckily I was the man for the job and within 12 months we achieved that goal. Two years on we also had four rosettes. So we worked hard and the boys had to be very disciplined, we are all focused on food and beverage to achieve those goals. So nine years on how do you keep the motivation? How do you keep yourself inspired to keep coming here and doing the dishes and the work that you do? My role has changed dramatically from coming in as a head chef and opening a new restaurant - I think you just develop. You develop your skill set, you develop with your staff also and that's exciting in itself but also I've done a lot of things outside the restaurant industry, and outside of Bohemia to keep things fresh too. TV work, media, books, and my own TV programme here on the Island have kept the excitement because I'm learning new skills in so many different ways. Shaun obviously Jersey has got a wonderful larder, wonderful produce, how important is it for you working with local fishermen, local growers, local suppliers, is that all part of the ethos here at Bohemia? Very much so. When I came here 18, 19 years ago, I was very young in the first instance and I didn’t really understand what I had on my doorstep, and you don’t when you’re that age in the kitchen. When you’re young it’s about getting set on a section and fitting in and working hard in your kitchen. I left the island and then came back understanding ingredients much more as I grew up as a person. I forged relationships with the guys I still work closely with now - guys that hand dive scallops for me, that catch fish, raise quality animals and grow amazing produce, they’re only five minutes away. These relationships have built up over 19 years and have helped me get where I want to be within the restaurant and keep me sustainable with the ingredients I use. It’s really, really important to me, I couldn’t do without them. We’ve just seen Great British Menu on the telly and you mentioned Great British Menu was that good for business, good for you? Did it raise your profile? Great British Menu was fantastic and a real launch pad onto TV for me. It was also very hard work! I think everyone was thinking, ‘Get a dish on Shaun, please get a dish on!’ I remember even at interview stage going to meet them and they handed me two copies of Great British Menu from the previous show and said, “Watch that, it’ll give you a bit of a guidance,” so I got home, put them down and to the back of my mind. A week to go before you start filming you think, ‘I really should watch that, I really should watch that,’ to kind of understand what’s going on. But honestly I didn’t and then it all hit me when I got into the studio. I at least read the script and then I got a my last dish through, which is the treacle tart, so yes it all ended well. Although you had a great persona and personality on the island do you think it elevated you as a person to a national audience? Oh massively. Great British Menu for anybody that's involved, all chefs alike, is a great stage. It offers a great platform for a chef to grow and the audience in the UK is huge. I’d say to other chefs, “Yeah go ahead do it, even if you don’t get through, try and have a go because it’s a fantastic show.” Talk us through the dish you’re going to cook for us today please. The dish I'm going to cook for you today is a seasonal dish which has been on our menu for about two months now. It’s a local turbot roasted with a pistachio and pine nut crust, cauliflower salad and sea purslane. Fantastic. Shaun thank you so much for inviting us in. Thank you very much for coming.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st August 2012

Shaun Rankin, Bohemia, Jersey

IN ASSOCIATION WITH