Chef Quinn is crowned the fishcake king
The secret to a great fishcake?
Keep the flavours simple — that's the advice from budding chef Quinn White.
He was recently named Bermuda's fishcake king at the City Food Festival where he beat out eight other cooks.
“My goal was just to keep it really basic, not trying to go too extreme and just keeping the flavours really simple,” the 25-year-old said.
“Some people try to add eggs and other things, but I just make a classic Bermuda fishcake with thyme, parsley, garlic and scallions.
“When I'm mixing it I also use a little butter to keep it moist.”
Mr White set out to win the competition so he could boost his confidence in the kitchen and see how his recipe measured up.
“I also wanted to give the judges something similar to what their mom or grandma would make,” he said.
On the day of the event he went in to drop off his finished product.
A short while later he didn't hear his name called by the judges, so he left feeling disappointed.
“I figured they had already named the winner from the names I heard,” he said.
“So I went home to start working on my loquat rum cake. Then a lady called me and said I had won.
“I drove from Lindo's in Warwick back to town in five minutes.
“I was just so excited and didn't want them to give my place to the runner-up.”
The competition proved to be his first big break after a series of setbacks in his cooking career. Mr White had planned to study culinary arts at Bermuda College, but he shattered his ankle and wasn't able to stay on his feet long enough to cook.
Another huge blow came when his father died a couple of years ago.
“My parents were both really understanding about my desire to cook,” he said.
“Some people don't want their children to make a mess, but they allowed me to as long as I cleaned up afterwards.
“Shortly before my dad passed is when I first started baking, but when he died it threw me off for about three or four years.
“Now I'm just trying to get back to my passion.”
Mr White went through another difficult bout last year when he was out of work for eight months.
But these days it seems like all the opportunities are heading his way at once.
He currently has a full-time construction job and has also been accepted into Fairmont Southampton's Culinary Apprenticeship Programme.
“I start there this Sunday coming,” he said.
“It's just Sundays right now, but I'm hoping it will lead to a full-time position.
“I ultimately want to become an executive chef in maybe five or ten years and own my own restaurant serving soul food with a different twist. Maybe have some Italian or French recipes in there as well.”
Mr White has been cooking ever since he was a child. He always loved watching his aunt and granny in the kitchen and meal times were always an important time in his household.
At age 15 he decided to seriously pursue the interest. “That's when I decided to follow my heart,” he said.
“I was always cooking at home. Whenever my mom went to church on Saturday, I would cook her lunch for when she got back home.
“I make everything from monkey bread to lamb stew and fettuccine. I also make up my own recipes as well.
“For the Food Festival I made my loquat cake and for Christmas I do a pretty good eggnog cake.
“People also ask me to make different baked goods for them, so I might try a strawberry Merlot cake or something different like that.
“My brain is wired really different. Sometimes I don't even use a recipe.
“I just have my own cake base and then I'll add different liquids like strawberry, loquat, lemon or orange juice instead of water.”
Mr White said he's feeling more optimistic about the future these days.
“I have always gravitated towards the kitchen,” he said. “It didn't matter if I had other jobs, my favourite place was still in the kitchen.
“I bake a lot in my spare time and I am trying to start my own home bakery, Devario's Delicacies.
“I feel like in this economy today entrepreneurship is really the only way to go.
“People just work, sleep and pay bills, but I'm trying to use these opportunities as a stepping stone.”