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Tyka, 31, quits steady job to live ʽfearlessly’

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Tyka Edness is planning to put her brand of candied nuts, Sooo Nut Sharing, in stores in September (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Tyka Edness prepares a banana leaf to plate a shrimp dish (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
A shrimp dish prepared by Tyka Edness of ate@8 (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Tyka Edness’s candied nuts (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Two months ago Tyka Edness quit her responsible job in order to do something that she loved.

The 31-year-old had given her best for five years as a physiotherapist at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital but as Bermuda eased its way out of lockdown last April, she realised she wasn’t enjoying it any more.

She wanted to cook.

“I could not stop thinking about food. I am not a trained chef. I just love food and it loves me back.”

A year later she resigned “happily” and started a business, ate@8.

“It was about living fearlessly,” said Ms Edness who also wanted to set a good example for her daughter, Emmigyn Adia. “I would not want my daughter to live and work and be unhappy. Resigning was absolutely scary. You are conditioned to think that you need someone to pay you; you need someone to give you insurance.

“My purpose is joy. It is not rushing to work and hating what I do from 8am to 4pm.”

Ms Edness offers catering for groups of no more than ten people. She enjoys interacting with her clients – looking them directly in the eye and chatting with them – and loves cooking with ingredients that are freshly grown here.

Her meals don’t include traditional Bermuda favourites such as macaroni and cheese. Instead, expect dishes like loquat empanadas or saltfish in pastry – and vegetables.

“Veggies are an absolute must,” she said. “I will serve golden fried loquat empanadas, but pair that with tableside guacamole, smoked, dried mango [and] balsamic roasted pecans and serve that in a pineapple shell.

“For one dinner, I did a play on sushi. In a pineapple I did tempura with purple cauliflower, black rice, chunks of tempura salmon, seaweed, white sesame seeds and this drizzle that was quite well received. It is so exciting to create things like that.”

She follows what she calls “the cascade concept”, creating a completely new dish from leftovers. She also tries to keep her food healthy.

“Cascading is about rendering Sunday's steamed sweet potato with coconut milk, fresh garlic and turmeric and presenting, what would otherwise be disposed of or relegated, as Wednesday's charred eggplant enchiladas,” she said. “That process challenges our palates and allows us to respect food conceptually.

“In the hospital sector we hear, ‘Diabetes runs in your family.’ No it doesn’t. Poor eating choices do. Or not having the knowledge that you can make corn a different way. You don’t have to cover it in butter.”

Ms Edness “could just barely boil ramen noodles” when she went off to Georgia to study journalism at Clark Atlanta University in 2006.

Back home for the summer she tried to replicate meals she’d eaten in restaurants and got better and better in the kitchen.

More recently, YouTube has been a big help.

“I always say when you’re ready to learn, the teacher will appear,” said Ms Edness, who did an about turn after she graduated and studied physiotherapy.

At the moment she is working on Sooo Nut Sharing, a brand of candied peanuts, almonds and cashews that she hopes to soon have in stores. Making them was harder than she anticipated.

“On YouTube they made it look so simple,” she said. “I knew I was experimenting [but] I probably wasted maybe $300 just on nuts, easily. The first time I made them they came out really brittle.”

Her second, third and fourth attempts were not much better until one day she finally figured out – the recipe needed more water and less flavouring.

“The sky was a little brighter that day,” she said, adding that she is hopeful they will hit shelves in September. “The heaviness I felt lifted.”

She markets her business on Instagram where she posts everything from cooking demos and nutrition tips to videos of her and her daughter dancing.

Every third Sunday, she plates a full meal for Vibe 103 which the DJs discuss during the radio station’s live stream on Twitch. To promote veggie burgers she made a video dressed in full gombey regalia.

Ms Edness danced with United Dance Productions until she went to a boarding school for dancers when she was 12.

She thinks that might be the reason everything she does has a theatrical touch.

“I call it presence,” she said. “I think that layer for sure comes from the dance background. I’m not attracted to ‘safe’ or ‘standard’ anything – food, colours, fashion all have to vibrant and one of a kind. My ancestors were taught all too well how to blend and not be seen. I think I honour them when I have presence.”

For more information see her on Instagram @ate.at8 or e-mail theyateat8@gmail.com.

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Published June 21, 2021 at 4:04 pm (Updated June 21, 2021 at 4:04 pm)

Tyka, 31, quits steady job to live ʽfearlessly’

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