Lorcán Kan has some big shoes to fill. Kan recently joined Brunswick East restaurant Etta as head chef, replacing superstar chef and James Beard-Award-winning cookbook author Rosheen Kaul, who departed at the end of April. But the chef is up for the challenge.

Kan first met Etta owner Hannah Green when the two worked at Attica in 2011 (Kan in the kitchen and Green as assistant manager). Since then, Kan’s career has taken him to Contra in New York; Platt Fields Market Garden in the UK; and Where the Light Gets In in Stockport, England, where Kan was head of the food waste and fermentation program and helped the restaurant earn a Michelin Green Star.

He’s also known for his Things Palace pop-up supper clubs, which explore the food cooked in Chinese restaurants run by members of the diaspora. He’s hosted it in cities including Manchester, Berlin, and Melbourne at Little Andorra and Sleepy’s.

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Kan started working while Kaul was still leading the kitchen, and the pair had a two-week handover. The Etta kitchen team is currently cooking Kaul’s food – Kan’s first menu launches Tuesday July 2 once he returns to Melbourne after a three-week trip to the UK.

We took five minutes with the chef to hear what he has in store for Etta, his food philosophy and the chilli oil parfait that Green tells Broadsheet got Kan the gig.

Rosheen had such a big influence on Etta. How do you reflect on that influence?
She’s incredibly talented person who has an amazing palate and is super creative. [I] want to build upon that – really take what she’s done and try to keep going. We use similar produce. Coming into the restaurant, all the stuff I work with, it’s sort of already here.

What’s it been like to cook on the fire at Etta?
We’re looking to get doors on the oven because at the moment it’s an open hearth and being able to smoke things with a cabinet smoker would be amazing.

You can use red gum or traditional woods that come from this country and incorporate a really Australian flavour to these traditional wood-roasted meat dishes like char siu and Peking duck. Even making lap cheong [Chinese sausage] traditionally.

Can you tell us about the fermentation program you’ve got planned?
In the UK I started a food waste fermentation program with this restaurant called Where The Light Gets In … using food waste and looking at everything that has value that gets thrown in the bin and how we can turn that into products.

It’ll be the same process here, just utilising Australian ingredients and making various different preservations. So a big one would be doubanjiang, which is a Sichuan fava bean paste … trying to make that with potentially some Australian produce like lupini beans, a type of bean that’s grown in South Australia.

Also making soy sauce, because we use all of these products but they come from different countries. And – whenever we reach for something in the pantry – trying to think, ‘Can we make that product? Can we make everything layered with flavour from start to finish?’

What kind of food are you interested in cooking at the moment?
It’s very influenced by the British cold climate we experience in Melbourne, and how the produce changes dramatically. The biggest challenge is that I’d love to put all these things on but none of that stuff’s [in season]. In the UK, they have a food season called “the hunger gap” where there’s no food coming out of the ground. It’s all swedes and cabbages. We should all probably know about that and not order tomatoes year-round.

Will you bring in any dishes you’ve made before at your pop-ups or in other kitchens, or will you be designing a completely new menu?
There’s this frozen chilli oil parfait that I’ve made. It’s made with Korean chilli flakes and Sichuan peppercorns. It’s almost like gingerbread, even though it’s a cold dessert. It’s kind of spiced, but there’s a little bit of heat to it. And then it’s served with a lychee, makruit lime leaf sorbet with frozen cucumber and lime. You have an idea about chillies – you think about heat – but there’s so much fruitiness and fruit flavours in those things. The parfait is trying to highlight [that] without being really spicy. There’s a little bit of fresh chillies in there as well to get this numbing cold heat thing that’s really great.