In Business, Dining, News

By Bob Barnes

Australian-born Chef Shaun Hergatt has had a storied culinary career that includes owning heralded restaurants in New York, Atlanta, Miami, Napa and Las Vegas and earning multiple awards including Michelin stars.

Vegas Prime Magazine talked with the acclaimed chef to learn of his path to becoming a chef, the opening of Aqua Seafood & Caviar at Resorts World and more.

Please tell us about your background and early influences.

I was born and raised in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, a picturesque town renowned for its stunning blend of rainforests, mountains and pristine ocean waters.

One of the most significant influences in my life has been my grandmother. From a young age, she mentored me in the art of cooking, and her mastery of traditional Finnish cuisine and her unwavering dedication to passing down her culinary expertise have left an indelible mark on my own cooking style.

What helped guide you in your decision to become a chef, and what restaurants have you worked at in your career?

Culinary arts run deep in my family, with both my father and uncle being chefs, exposing me to the vibrant world of commercial kitchens at a tender age of 6. My upbringing in an environment where I engaged in various agricultural activities, from working on my farm to cultivating my own fruits and vegetables, offered me a profound appreciation for the farm-to-table journey.

It was during high school that I delved further into the culinary world, undertaking a two-week work experience in a kitchen. This hands-on experience cemented my belief that the culinary arts could indeed be my calling.

I started my journey at Crystal Twig in Cairns, where I honed my foundational culinary skills. Subsequently, at The Ritz-Carlton in Sydney, immersing myself in the world of fine dining, I was awarded “Best Young Chef,” which laid the groundwork for my transition to The Ritz-Carlton in NYC’s Central Park, where I refined my craft and received a James Beard nomination for “Best New Restaurant.”

Following my tenure at The Ritz-Carlton, I embarked on a new chapter at The Setai in Miami, earning a three-star restaurant award “Best New Restaurant” by Esquire in 2008 and 2009, and the restaurant placed second in the world on Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List.

In 2009, I opened my own restaurant in New York, SHO Shaun Hergatt, where I showcased my innovative culinary approach and garnered two Michelin stars. In 2013, I opened Juni, a fine-dining concept that also received a Michelin Star, and in 2020, I took on the role of executive chef and owner of Vestry in SoHo, where I continued to push culinary boundaries and offer a distinctive gastronomic experience to guests.

In December 2021, observing the emergence of a new hotel in Las Vegas after a significant period without major culinary additions, I unveiled Aqua Seafood & Caviar Restaurant, originally known as Caviar Bar, at Resorts World Las Vegas, marking my debut on the West Coast culinary scene with a focus on premium seafood and caviar offerings.

What is your philosophy of cooking and recipe formulation?

I believe in the importance of exploring new ingredients, techniques and flavor combinations to push the boundaries of traditional cu- linary practices. At the core of my culinary vision is a commitment to sourcing the finest ingredients available and allowing their natural flavors to shine through.

Ultimately, my goal is to deliver dishes that not only showcase a global attitude toward cooking but also delight the senses with a fusion of intense, delightful and well-balanced flavor profiles.

What do you think of the culinary scene in Las Vegas?

The culinary scene in Las Vegas is a vibrant tapestry of talent and innovation. The Strip boasts a wealth of esteemed and celebrated chefs, each bringing their unique flair and creativity to the dining landscape.

If You Go

3000 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. (702) 676-7936; AquaLV.com

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