Shannon Batten knows hotels. The chef – who began his career as a commis at an Auckland hotel at just 18 – has cooked his way through Scotland, the Maldives, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia. Having spent his early years at hotels, Batten moved overseas from New Zealand, spending a decade cooking at Edinburgh’s Maison Bleu, Indigo Yard and the Michelin-starred Number One, as well as at underwater hotels in the Maldives and at the Hilton (now Voco) on Singapore’s Orchard Road.

He also developed the concept for The Muraka an eye-wateringly expensive two-storey underwater hotel suite in the Maldives, and has cooked for Bill Clinton, the Rolling Stones, Brad Pitt and princes William and Harry.

In July 2023, Batten moved from Singapore back to Brisbane (where he previously lived and worked between 2008 and 2014 as executive chef at The Incholm, Clear Mountain Lodge Spa and Iceworks) to helm the culinary direction at The Westin Brisbane. When he’s not busy at the hotel, Batten is meeting up with friends for an alfresco long lunch, sipping on sake and ordering up kingfish all over town.

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Where’s the best food close to where you live?
Mobo Japanese in Kangaroo Point – it’s just down the road from me and an absolute favourite. I love Japanese food and they do it so well: authentic flavours, always fresh and a great selection of sake. I love the kingfish sashimi; [their] signature sauce is really good! It’s also family-friendly, which is a must for me these days.

If it’s a special occasion, where are you headed?
Detour in Woolloongabba. They really think about the balance of the food, wine and menu structure. It’s a great place for friends with dietary requirements. They have many gluten-free and vegetarian options. When I’m with friends I love to do share plates, which is what the restaurant is all about. They do a great Wagyu brisket with super tasty hot sauce, and I love the beetroot tartare. I always enjoy open kitchens as well – it makes a great atmosphere.

Where’s your go-to spot for a long lunch?
Happy Boy in Fortitude Valley. I like sitting outside for lunch because it makes for a more casual atmosphere. Happy Boy is a great place for sharing dishes with a good menu selection. I love the eggplant with pork belly and preserved vegetables. Also, the sliced fish in Sichuan chilli broth has great flavours.
And for a drink and snacks?
Kushi Maru for good value sake and tako wasabi (octopus sashimi with sesame).

What’s your favourite dish on the menu at your restaurants?
Currently The Westin Brisbane is running a fun pop-up inspired by the Maldives. It’s running until April 28.
The Maldives is a destination close to my heart, after spending seven years living and working there. Drawing on my Maldivian experience I have developed a Maldivian menu. My favourite dish on the menu is the kingfish ceviche [served with] miso dressing, avocado, yuzu, shaved fennel and crispy lotus root. Tuna ceviche takes me back to living in the Maldives, sitting at waterfront restaurants with the sand beneath my toes and a warm Indian summer breeze. It’s a really refreshing dish to be enjoyed poolside and perfect for the Queensland climate.

Where would you take someone you’re looking to impress?
Settimo at The Westin Brisbane. I’m privileged to work with Guy Grossi and oversee Settimo, and would recommend it to anyone looking to impress. Settimo is Guy’s love letter to the Amalfi Coast and you can really feel and taste the romance of the destination when dining. Guy always says if Settimo was a person it would be Sophia Loren; I see it.

Tell us about a local producer you can’t stop thinking about.
The Lime Caviar Company. It’s a local supplier of finger limes, which are little pops of citrus flavour! I have been using finger lime since I was last in Australia 10 years ago. I love citrus in seafood especially and finger lime is such a great way of infusing that into a dish.