Chef Talk: Zhongshan Park Renaissance’s Jeremy Harris

High up on the 26th floor in the iconic neon-blue hotel that dominates the Zhongshan Park skyline, you’ll find American-born executive chef Jeremy Harris, once voted one of the top five most passionate chefs in Southeast Asia.

Jeremy Harris is relatively new to Shanghai, having only arrived as the executive chef at the Marriott Renaissance in Zhongshan Park about 10 months ago. But he is no stranger to the Marriott Group as a whole, and has been working as a chef in various Marriott hotels across the US and Southeast Asia for almost 10 years.  

“I started my hotel career working at a Marriott Hotel in New Orleans,” he says, and goes on to explain how it came about: after many years working in fine dining, eventually assisting the pastry chef, and starting on his path up the career ladder. Staying loyally with the Marriott, he climbed through the ranks and went on to work as an executive chef in Southeast Asian locations Malaysia and Vietnam for the last four years.

Previously living in these regions, one of the things that Harris has brought with him arriving in Shanghai is his interest in South East Asian cuisine, and as such, he’s particularly enthusiastic about the RMB 208 Southeast Asian ‘street food’ buffet that the Renaissance runs every Friday and Saturday night. Not what you might expect from a hotel from the Renaissance? “It’s an original concept, coming from the idea that if you own a restaurant you might sell 30 dishes, and be successful in 20 if they are good. But street food vendors across Southeast Asia often only make one dish; it’s very raw, and people’s livelihoods depend on it. Therefore it has to be smart and done really well.”

What he also speaks with passion about are the small buffet lunches that the Renaissance has to offer. “We use a farm just outside of Shanghai where we grow a lot of organic vegetables, and source free range chickens and eggs. Again it’s a unique concept, and that’s one of the things I like here. We don’t offer a massive buffet - instead we focus more on what goes in, on offering fresh, organic produce. When people come into a five star, they expect something special. Our salad buffet, which includes pizza (RMB 80), has proven especially popular at lunchtime. We average at least 100 heads for lunch and you have to arrive early, especially at weekends.”

Asking what he’s got in store for the coming months, he talks about how he’s hoping to expand on the Southeast Asian offerings, by bringing some chefs in from Thailand and Vietnam later in the year. “We’ve brought an Indian chef in for some Indian promotions we’re running until mid-April, and that’s proven successful. It goes in hand with doing what we can to provide authentic, interactive, fresh cuisine.”

Lamb and Pork Moussaka
Serves 2-4 people
3 aubergines, sliced 1cm thick  
200g green bell pepper
200g ground lamb
200g ground pork
2 medium-sized potatoes, cut into small cubes
250ml tomato basil sauce
150ml béchamel sauce
4 garlic cloves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 pinch cumin powder
1 cinnamon stick    
Feta cheese        


First caramelise the sliced aubergine in extra virgin olive oil until it turns golden brown. This is very important to bringing out the sweetness of the aubergine. Reserve the aubergine and the left over olive oil.

Using the left over olive oil from the aubergine, sauté the pork and lamb. Season with garlic and cumin spice. Add a touch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Reserve the meat until ready to assemble the moussaka.

Roast the green bell peppers over open flame, and peel of the charred skin. Slice the peppers thin and reserve.
Layer the ingredients in a heavy casserole enough to serve 2-4 people the ingredients as follows:

First layer: Tomato basil sauce with aubergine and roasted peppers

Second layer: Béchamel sauce with potatoes, ground lamb and pork, rosemary, cinnamon stick

Third layer: Tomato basil sauce with aubergine

Fourth Layer: Feta cheese and more rosemary

After layering the ingredients, let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to let all of the ingredients settle. Then bake in an oven at 170 degrees. You want the oven nice and hot, just make sure you rotate the casserole a few times when baking to help it brown evenly on top. The dish needs to bake for approximately 30 minutes.  

Once finished remove from oven and let it stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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