Lunch is Served!
That’s right! As of September 8th, Marcus' Bermuda at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club is now serving lunch. And to commemorate the occasion, Chef Marcus Samuelsson himself graced Bermuda with his presence and hosted a cooking demonstration in the Princess Victoria Room on Friday afternoon, featuring a couple of the items from the lunch menu. If you think this was an event that we'd possibly have missed...think again.
So first things first, if Marcus Samuelsson is ever again putting on a demonstration that starts at 2:00pm, try not to do the ultimate Bermuda thing and show up at 1:55pm. Chef Marcus is gracious and will give you a few minutes to take your seat at the BACK OF THE ROOM…because at that time, those are the only seats you will find. We’re smarter than that and showed up a good 15 minutes ahead of time, resulting a perfect view close to the front (at this time we want to grit our teeth and shout out to those over-achiever-eager-beavers who got there at who-knows-what time to take a perch at the front - yay!!! < sarcasm). We're just jealous.
The benefit of showing up ahead of time is not just a better seat, but that you get to watch the chef prepare for the demonstration. This is when you see him go into his chef ‘zone’. The meticulous care he takes when setting up his mise en place (fancy chef lingo for "kichen set up") makes you want to hold up a passive-aggressive sign that says ‘QUIET PLEASE’ to 'shush' the growing din of chatter in the room. Meanwhile, Chef Marcus seems to ignore the sounds made by the growing numbers of gawkers that are entering, as he places each bowl of ingredients in just the right place to suit his impending preparation.
...microphone check 1, 2, 3...latecomers now seated and bowls of ingredients in place...
BING! Just like that Chef Marcus turns on. His electric smile lit up the room and a detailed conversation about food began. As it turned out, this was a lesson as much as a cooking demo. Chef Marcus spun tales about the various foods he ate in his years growing up in Sweden. Herring, mackerel, elk, venison and bear. He spoke about how his mother was a modern (and not the best) cook, enticed by new devices such as the microwave and packaged foods, while his grandmother made meals from scratch that were worth the extra bike ride to her house.
The Chef discussed all of these details while deftly prepping the appetizer of the day...a Tomato Gazpacho with diced carrots, celery and peppers. The soup was a cold broth with a pleasing consistency, made up of pureed roasted tomato and sautéed aromatics (basil, garlic, shallots, peppers and celery).
Served processed, strained and chilled, the flavours married together and were merry in the process. The Gazpacho was a light, refreshing and slightly spicy mixture of a silky but textured broth accompanied by small chunks of vegetables that had attendees tipping their bowls on the sides in unison ensuring not a drop of soup was left in the ‘corners’ of the bowls (and so as not to seem rude or out of place, we did the same thing).
Next up was the fish sandwich. Now you know we are funny about our fish sandwiches in Bermuda, and the Chef may be dancing on the line with his Fried Delta Catfish Sandwich. As much as Marcus' Bermuda is known for serving super fresh and local (swimming-earlier-that-day) fish, they’ve decided to introduce catfish to their lunch menus (sacrilege, some will say). As always, we reserve our judgment and trust the experts, as Chef Marcus stated matter of factly that catfish is a big part of his restaurant menus in New York (and those restaurants are no slouches - our words, not his), and he would like to try to introduce it to Bermuda. Now, this isn’t your low end Swai shipped halfway around the world and stacked on a sandwich, but a catfish farmed with quality and care (according to Chef Marcus) in Mississippi.
This fish, deep fried in a coating of flour and cornmeal spiced batter and served with red pepper jam mayo and collards on toast tastes pretty damn good. No one is here claiming to be catfish converts BUT by Bermuda fish sandwich standards, this one did not disappoint. And that's saying a lot, because we know our fish sandwiches.
After the demo lunch, Chef Marcus took questions from the audience, further providing his food point of view and how he and Chef Leo of Marcus' had basically eaten their way around Bermuda a full year before the restaurant opened. He advised the audience on cooking techniques, how to approach food preparation in the home, how to make the most of ingredients when shopping. He also spoke about how one of his favourite, yet most under-rated, Bermuda ingredients is our sherry pepper sauce (which is featured as an flavouring ingredient in many of the dishes at Marcus').
While the meal itself wasn’t necessarily a $50 lunch, the opportunity to witness the celebrity chef up close and personal in action, experience his interaction with the crowd and the insight and ideas we left with all added up to a priceless afternoon.
Next stop is lunch at Marcus’. Stay tuned!