American chef Kerry Heffernan reflects on Festival of Taste, his career so far, and why he enjoys the challenges of changing peoples perceptions.
American chef Kerry Heffernan has 20 years of culinary experience and is currently executive chef at New York restaurant South Gate. Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Connecticut, Kerry developed an interest in the culinary arts at a very young age. At 14, he took a job in a local restaurant, laying the foundation for the stellar career that lay ahead. Following high school, Kerry bicycled through Europe for four months, spending a good portion of that time exploring the goût de terroir in the South of France. There, he set up camp – literally living in a tent – and found a job baking croissants.
Kerry returned home to attend the Culinary Institute of America, followed by another year cooking and travelling through Europe. Back in New York, he honed his skills at several highly regarded restaurants. He has since won numerous awards and also remains active outside the kitchen, volunteering for Share Our Strength, Project by Project, City Meals on Wheels, Kids for Kids and both the Central Park and Madison Square Park Conservancies. An avid saltwater fly fisherman and snowboarder, Kerry uses Central Park as both seasonal inspiration and the ideal backdrop for his graceful cuisine.
What excites you about the Festival of Taste? Firstly it is an honor to participate in such an amazing event with the extraordinary caliber of chefs. Secondly I am thrilled beyond belief to be cooking with the excellent facilities and ingredients to be found in Dubai, which I have heard so much about. Have you been to Dubai before? No, this will be my first visit.
What do you think about the food scene in Dubai? Well from what I can gather I will be eating non-stop to get it all in!
What will you be doing for the Festival of Taste? I’ll be hosting four tasting events and cooking one full dinner.
Why did you decide to provide this recipe? I like to do things that are very much of the season and that are able to utilise some signature ingredients.
When did you last cook them, and for whom? Well, a few are things that will be on the Fall Menu at South Gate [New York restaurant], such as the butternut squash flan with roasted Brussels sprouts, sage and Breseaola, I last served to Gene Hackman (in Feb ’07) and the Tuna ‘Cru’ is a special from my days at Eleven Madison Park with Danny Meyer.