Training: Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Orlando, Florida
Degree: Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts, Magna Cum Laude
Where are you from? Westmoreland, Jamaica
How long have you been in Bermuda? 15 years
How long have you been a chef? 20 years
Who taught you how to cook?
I guess it would be fair for me to credit my Mother. I grew up in a household with 5 kids, and my mother cooked most days of the week, so I couldn’t help but pick it up. I remember growing sweet potatoes in our garden and roasting them over an open fire outside. Nearby, we’d catch crayfish and tilapia and as children we’d cook them in the bushes or at home, or wherever. And then when I moved to another community by the sea, we didn’t pack groceries as children…we went fishing. But overall, you could say that the whole approach to cooking and building flavors, the Caribbean and Jamaican way, definitely came from my Mother.
What made you want to be a chef?
I didn’t initially want to be a chef. It never really even crossed my mind, and I was actually a machinist by trade before I became a chef. One day when I was young, my Aunt was visiting from Canada and I made soup for dinner. I remember her saying “Oh my goodness, everything you have cooked so far has been awesome, but this is something really special.” And then she started commenting on how much money a chef can make and how respected they are in Canada and so that thought stuck, and it stuck for a number of years before I decided to pursue it.
What were your first steps towards becoming a chef?
While I was working as a machinist, I had a friend who had enrolled in a hospitality program and I decided to enroll as well. I continued to work shift work, working the graveyard shift so I could attend school, and I remember finishing work at 7:00 a.m. and rushing to school for 7:30. While I was in school, I got a job in a hotel working in a restaurant as a trainee, where I learned to do basic things like chopping vegetables and preparing garnishes. It was a French restaurant, so the whole French approach to cooking was implemented. The dimensions had to be perfect. A julienne was a julienne - it wasn’t just randomly cutting strips of vegetables. They had to be exact and if they weren’t, it was questioned. The vegetables changed every night, the potatoes or starch changed every night on the plate, and the presentation had to be top notch. Those were the first disciplines I was taught and it gave me a really good foundation. How we as young chefs expressed ourselves every night, was to compete technically with each other for best presentation. We had a positive rivalry going on and that environment was my first exposure. When it came time for me to graduate, the hotel asked if I would stay on permanently, and I did.
Soon after, I was told that I had been selected to represent the hotel in an exchange chef program for a year, and go to school. The exchange was between all of the top resorts in the area (Negril). So while I was on the exchange, I would spend two months in each resort while going to school for management classes and I would do this until I completed exposure to every department in the kitchen (garden-manger, pastries, sauce, soups, range cooking), and finish in your respective hotel.
Back to my childhood, I was once given an old cookbook by the mother of a friend. The book was so old that the pages were stuck together and it had worms eating through it and I never understood anything in it as a child because the language was foreign, and full of French terms. But I kept it, and years later, working in that French restaurant, there was one thing that stood out to me that I had remembered seeing in the book, and it was the word julienne. So I went back to the book and started looking again and suddenly the whole restaurant menu just came alive to me. Every night I would stay up late, reading the book over and over, and learning it entirely. I’m talking about from the very basics to building flavours, body, texture, stocks, soups, sauces – the whole nine yards. And then I would use what I was learning from the book to perfect what I was preparing on the menu at the restaurant.
My first real promotion was to the garden-manger, or cold food production. What's unique about cold food production is that a chef who preps cold food and does it well is more of a master than those working with hot food, because with hot food you can put salt and pepper in anything, and you have the aroma With cold food, you only have two dimensions to work with, which are presentation and taste. So, cold foods have to be able to taste extra good, and have to look extra appealing.
What inspires you in the kitchen?
Honestly, the customers' response and just seeing people happy. I'm inspired by the next person I'm serving, and I want to know that their needs are met. I think also, coming from Jamaica where things are so competitive, I'm inspired not to be second to anybody. If anyone comes within my "zone", I'm motivated to take it up a level and set a new standard. The smartest thing for any chef to learn is to cook not for himself (or herself), but to cook for other people. So his (or her) tastes can not be front and centre. You almost have to develop a palette that is universal, where you can discern something from various regions of the world and be able to cook it for someone who is from there, and have them say "that's better than my Mother's."
What inspires you about Bermudian cuisine?
What inspires me in Bermuda is not as much about the cuisine as it is about the fact that people in Bermuda genuinely love to eat! And because of this, it excites me more because they (the customers) understand what they want. I don't think that Bermudians (and Bermudian residents) are as close-minded about food as people are in a lot of other places, and they're more likely to try something new, even if it's outside of their comfort zone. Bermudians also dine out quite often and I like the fact that it's not just the tourists who are in the restaurants, it's the local community.
What is your favourite Bermudian dish?
For me to eat, I do love the traditional codfish and potatoes. With tomato sauce and all the trimmings!
What is your favourite thing to prepare from the Muse menu?
The Ocean Medley (from the Dinner Menu: Brandy Flambéed shrimp, scallops and mussels with Black Risotto Parmigiano Reggiano, enhanced with Lobster Sauce, $35). What makes it unique is the sauce and the colour of the risotto, and I love the reaction that every customer has when I serve it to them.
What is your favourite thing to prepare at home?
Fresh fish. I have two favourite ways to prepare it, and both are very simple. The first is steamed with onion, carrots, potato, green peppers, scallion, thyme, garlic and scotch bonnets, cooked in a light broth and served with bananas or plain rice. The second way I like to prepare it is to use the same ingredients, but season the fish with salt and pepper, dredge it in flour, fry the fish and then serve it with a sauce made from the vegetables with coconut milk added to it, and then serve it with plain white rice.
If someone was thinking about becoming a chef, what advice would you give them?
You have to love it. You have to really have a mad passion for it, because the hours are unsociable, it's not typically the most well-paid job, and to be honest, only a small number reach the top. So if you're going to do it, you have to really love it (Bite of Bermuda side note: If you want to see what this passion looks like, ask Enworth about his food and watch his face light up. He has it.)
If you could travel to any country in the world based solely on the food, where would you go?
Once upon a time, I would have said France. But I think I would now say Italy, because they embody a little bit more of the Mediterranean. Italy's style of cooking is so simple, for a country that cooks at the level that they do. Italians don't overcomplicate the process and I love their appreciation for the freshness of the ingredients, and the complete lack of arrogance about it. Italians gain a lot of happiness from the preparation of food, and food plays an important role in family life.
What do you think about Bermuda's food scene?
I think that right now, it's genuinely the best that it has ever been. I have so much respect for the chefs who are here now. Generally speaking, chefs can have egos bigger than the quality of the food they're preparing. And they can focus so much on presentation that they can miss the opportunity to create balance with taste. So, people would be forced to lie along with them, and suffer unsatisfying food based on who the chef was or the establishment they worked for. Now, you can go anywhere in Bermuda, to any level of restaurant, and honestly get a decent meal, from a fish sandwich to a filet mignon, and it's not just good tasting food - it looks good too. The chefs now understand that their customers have the knowledge about what good food is, and have risen to the occasion. Finally, Bermuda's chefs aren't focused on getting their ratings from competitions anymore...they're getting it from their patrons, who have a meal and then tell people about it, whether in person or via social media. People are more true to their palettes than they have ever been and chefs are stepping up to the plate to deliver what their customers want.
Where do you enjoy dining out in Bermuda?
I like the Jasmine Lounge because of the comfort and atmosphere. I used to order their Lamb Tagine Pizza, but it's not on the menu anymore. So, now I order a New York Steak, served with some seasoned fries and vegetables. I also go to Bone Fish and the Swizzle Inn for the atmosphere.
Isn't he wonderful? We're big fans of Enworth and his phenomenal culinary skills and encourage you to give Muse a try the next time you are looking for a wonderful meal. Tip: ask for a seat on the ground floor and you can watch Enworth and his team work their magic in the open kitchen.
17 Front Street (across from the Ferry Terminal)
Tel: 441 296 8788
Fax: 441 296 8786
firstname.lastname@example.org / http://www.muse.bm
Lunch Monday through Friday from 12pm – 3pm
Dinner Monday through Saturday from 6pm – 10pm