From cooking for European prime ministers and presidents to whipping up dinner for his two kiddos, Executive Chef Shane Osborn has done it all and more!
At the end of a small, quiet little lane in Central there is a tall building that houses a modern, chic and sexy restaurant, Arcane. There is nothing private or discreet (as the name would suggest) about the exciting flavours and dishes coming out from the kitchen. At the helm of Arcane is multi-award winning Executive Chef Shane Osborn, an Aussie transplanted to Hong Kong with his wife Julia and two kids, Rose and Oscar. After gaining one and two Michelin stars at Pied-a-Terre in London, he makes his way to the 852 to open his first stand alone dining establishment. He has a passion for what he does, but it’s clear his greatest loves in life are his wife, Julia and children, Rose and Oscar. Read more as he dishes (pun intended!) on fatherhood, his funniest parenting moment (read: it involves an open door on a moving car!) and what he hopes his kids don’t get from him.
Tell us about yourself. What brought you to Hong Kong?
I’m originally from Perth in western Australia. At age of 20, I moved to London where I stayed for 20 years. I also lived in Sweden for a couple of years. My wife, Julia and I wanted to move to Asia and Hong Kong seemed like the right choice for us to move to.
What inspired you to start your career in the food industry? How did your career as a chef and restaurant owner lead you to where you are now?
My mum was a cook working for a catering company in Perth. From the age of 12, I went to work with her on the weekends, doing everything from peeling carrots and potatoes and just being a general helping hand in the kitchen. From this early age, I realised that I wanted to be a chef.
What has been your most memorable collaboration as a chef?
Just before we left London, I was invited to cook for all 27 Presidents and Prime Ministers of Europe at the European Council in Brussels. Seeing so many powerful people eat my food was rather cool.
Who do you look up to in the food industry in Hong Kong? Celebrity crush?
I like Richard Ekkebus (Executive Chef of 2 Michelin Stars restaurant, Amber). He is a great ambassador for the Hong Kong dining scene. Celebrity status does not impress me at all, the only crush I have is for my beautiful wife, Julia.
What’s your favourite lazy day food to cook at home?
It’s pretty simple: roast beef, roast potatoes, green beans and gravy.
What is one ingredient you cannot live without?
What’s the most bizarre/interesting food you’ve ever tasted?
Hands down, surströmming. It translates to sour herring, a Swedish specialty that is just wrong in my opinion!
Top 3 favourite dishes from Arcane and why.
- Our Japanese Fruit Tomatoes because these tomatoes are just always outstanding.
- Next would have to be the Sautéed Potato Gnocchi dish. This dish is our most ordered and well known – it’s simply delicious.
- And lastly, the Yuzu and Lemon Posset. For me, this is the best way to finish a meal: crisp ,tangy and refreshing.
What was your reaction to the news of your wife’s pregnancy (first and second)?
How did you choose your children’s names?
For our daughter, we named her Rose as she was just so beautiful and delicate like a rose. For our son, we named him Oscar, after Oscar Wilde.
How was your experience of changing the first diaper?
Changing the kids’ nappies was always great fun as they always giggled. I’ve never been fazed by this.
How hands-on were you during the birth process?
Julia was in labour for 80 hours(!) with Rose, and I was there the entire time. Both kids were delivered through the “sunroof”.
What do you hope your kids get from you and what do you hope they don’t get?
I hope the kids get my work ethic, but not my incredibly bushy eyebrows!
What’s your favourite part of your parenting routine?
First thing in the morning and bed time. Reading stories and watching them fall asleep is magic.
Who plays good cop and bad cop between you and your wife?
We take it in turns!
What’s the hardest part of being a dad?
Spending time away from the kids is the hardest. I wish I could spend all day with them!
What’s the best part of being a dad?
The unconditional love and affection you have for your children.
What do you love most about your son and your daughter?
Every single thing about them.
How do you keep the romance with your wife alive after all these years?
Spending time together alone and tasty treats! The benefits of being a chef is access to incredible fruit, which my wife loves.
If not Arcane, where do you like to go out with your wife? With the whole family?
Julia and I like Belon and 121 BC for date night. When we’re eating with the kids, we go to Mercato. Our choice is fairly limited to go out with kids due to multiple food allergies. Unfortunately, there is a lack of restaurants in Hong Kong that take this problem seriously.
What would you say is your kids’ favourite dish you cook for them?
Oscars love our Pepper Seared Tuna with Black Olive and Shallot Dressing. Rose loves anything with Wagyu Beef with Rosemary Sautéed Potatoes.
What’s the funniest parenting story you can share?
When Rose was around 18 months old, she opened the car door as we were going around the Buckingham Palace roundabout! The door almost hit a SO19 police car (the heavily armed police in London) so needless to say, we were pulled over. I was given a stern lecture by the machine gun toting officer and Rose thought it was hilarious!
What do you know now that you wish you knew before becoming a dad? Biggest lesson learned?
How much more enjoyable life is with children , if I’d known earlier I might have had a dozen kids.
Do you have any tips for soon-to-be dads?
Enjoy sleeping in before it’s gone!