Chef Shane Osborn at St Betty in Hong Kong.

Just one mouthful is all it takes to appreciate that St Betty chef Shane Osborn is true to his word about letting his fresh produce speak for itself.

And sing it does – it's a melody of flavours.

The Michelin-starred chef sources only the best fresh ingredients at St Betty restaurant in the International Finance Centre mall on Hong Kong island, overlooking Victoria Harbour.

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One perfect example is Osborn's ceviche dish of hamachi, radish, daikon and coriander with avocado crème fresh for $HK198 ($24).

It's been a couple of decades since Osborn has lived in his home town of WA, but he hasn't forgotten his roots. He's proud to use fresh produce from WA because he rates it among the best in the world – especially the yabbies and truffles.

So it's hardly surprising to see yabbies on St Betty's menu served with pork belly and a sweet garlic puree ($HK288).

Osborn also pays tribute to his new base in Hong Kong with Asian-inspired dishes with a modern twist, such as 21st century egg with chargrilled asparagus, lemon mayonnaise, black truffle and hazelnut dressing ($HK188).

St Betty may boast a million-dollar view, but there is nothing pretentious about the food. The service – both in the kitchen and front of house – is top-notch.

Osborn says the aim is to encourage diners to relax.

"For me, that's what dining's all about, just having a bit of fun," he says.

"It's high-quality food using great produce."

WA's culinary scene has certainly changed since Osborn left Australia as a 19-year-old – after a stint at Pierre's Garden Restaurant – to broaden his horizons and "see the big wide world".

"It was my first time in Europe. I was on my own – didn't have a visa, didn't have a job, just a backpack and my chef's jackets and my tools," he says.

He celebrated his 20th birthday in London and was "totally blown away" by the standard of food in restaurants. Even though it wasn't of the calibre it is today, it was still impressive.

"It was the early 90s in England – the food scene wasn't what it is now.

"I arrived and there was this big, new rock and roll chef called Marco Pierre White who was making all the headlines and I was lucky enough to work with one of his sous chefs out in the country.

"It was a huge learning curve. When I left Perth in 1990 the culinary scene was pretty dated to say the best.

"I arrived in London to chefs in immaculate uniforms and huge skill levels, doing food that I hadn't really seen before so it was a huge culture shock and very exciting.

"That set me on the path where I am now. It made me realise that was exactly what I wanted to do – really good, high-end, fine-dining food."

Osborn was sous chef at Pied a Terre in London when head chef Tom Aikens was forced to leave after a "very infamous alleged branding incident". (Aikens was accused of burning a kitchen worker with a hot palette knife.)

"I was given the reigns in December 1999. At that time there had never been any Australian chefs with Michelin stars – no Australians had run any Michelin-starred kitchens, so I was the first one to run the kitchen and it was really hard for the first couple of years because of the expectations," he says.

"The industry didn't think the restaurant would survive – Pied a Terre was a restaurant with great credibility. It was really one of the top restaurants in the country."

Industry experts doubted that Osborn was capable of running "a French contemporary cuisine restaurant" in England.

Pied a Terre went from strength to strength. Osborn proved the critics wrong and earned his two Michelin stars. He also bought a 28 per cent share in the restaurant.

"We got really busy won loads of awards and then we had a fire in 2004 – the whole restaurant pretty much burned down so the restaurant was closed for 11 months. We redesigned, came back bigger and better than ever and I spent another 5-6 years there."

Osborn has now settled in Hong Kong with his wife and children.

He expects to remain in Asia for between 10 and 20 years "and then go and live somewhere else".
Osborn has not ruled out being a restaurant owner in Hong Kong.

"We'll see the way things develop in the future; there may be other opportunities and businesses that we may do with Alan Yau and the company behind me so there's lots of opportunities.

"I've got a few ideas to do other businesses at some point."

Yau is the English-raised founder of Wagamama, the noodle bar franchise that has become an international hit – including in WA.

St Betty has been described as Yau's "first baby in Hong Kong". The acclaimed restaurateur describes Osborn as "someone who can consistently deliver".

The West Australian

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