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Moik mixing it up

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Daniel Moik has smoked jerky, roasted a 15lb lamb and steamed Chinese dumplings.

But don’t get him talking about bread.

He describes ciabatta as one of his “disasters”. According to the 29-year-old, his first attempt came out of the oven as flat as a pancake.

“I had to try three or four times before I got it just right,” he said. “It’s hard to get the consistency of the dough right in Bermuda’s climate and humidity.”

The mixologist at Yours Truly was one of 13 people welcomed into Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the international gastronomic society, last week.

Bermuda’s chapter of 165 amateur foodies and culinary industry professionals held an elaborate ceremony to celebrate the event in the Fairmont Southampton ballroom.

“It wasn’t hard to get in; I just had to fill out an application — I think they’re trying to get more younger members involved.

“They give you a sword and a cup to hold. Then you have to swear to respect the table and the atmosphere that the table creates.

“They speak to you in French and you answer in French. Then there was someone there to repeat everything in English.”

The organisation holds a number of formal and informal dinners throughout the year and also has several dine-arounds in restaurants. Mr Moik is looking forward to connecting with other people who like fantastic food and wine.

He became interested while working as a bartender in Manchester, England.

“I had lots of friends who worked in high-end restaurants,” he said. “They’d often invite me along to eat.”

When he returned to Bermuda in December, he learnt about Chaîne des Rôtisseurs through a friend’s mother.

He had loved watching his grandmother, Mary Madeiros, in the kitchen while he was growing up.

“I was always running around her while she cooked up a storm,” he said. “We had some wonderful food at family events.”

Once he went off to England to study graphic design, he realised just how fortunate he had been. His roommates — from China, Greece and Scandinavia — stepped in to help.

“I needed to learn how to make everything myself,” he said. “They all taught me how to cook different things. They showed me different techniques. Then I got really into it and started cooking more on my own.”

He did not stop learning once he returned home. YouTube tutorials help as well as the recipes he finds in magazines and cookbooks.

He often cooks something over and over until he gets it right.

“I like to do it exactly the way the recipe says the first time I cook it,” he said. “I like to see what the chef intended. Then the next time, I often tweak the recipe to my own taste.”

Despite that, the science of mixing drinks remains his true love.

“I worked in restaurants and bars all the way through university,” he said.

After graduation, he found a job in graphic design, but hated it.

“All I was doing all day was checking e-mails and cutting and pasting photographs on to a white background,” said Mr Moik, who quit after ten months. “It was very tedious. One day I just left. I’d had enough.”

He found a job at Living Ventures, a company that runs bars and restaurants across England.

“I worked my way up through the company and was promoted to trainer,” he said. “They had a very intense two-week training programme.”

He still thinks it was a great decision; his interest in cooking has often come in handy.

“In really good establishments, the cooking staff and bartending staff work together and play off ideas on each other,” he said. “At one place I worked, the chef tried to create new ice cream flavours every week. He came to me one day and said, ‘I’m thinking of doing a gin and tonic sorbet’. I was able to suggest the right type of gin.

“Other times, working in management, we’d be asked to step in when the chef was off sick. I did this several times. Once I worked the fryer. Another time I helped with the plating. It was fun. I really enjoyed it.

“I like bartending because you work directly with people. There is more interaction. If I was in the kitchen, I’d never get to see the face of the people I was working with.”

He joined Yours Truly in January.

The Chancery Lane bar styles itself as a speakeasy. There is no sign on the door; entry comes with the push of a bell.

“I think the place is just what Bermuda needs,” he said.

“I think Bermudians are hungry for something different. When they go away to New York or the UK or Europe, they go to these little cocktail places. Then they come back here and the scene here is top up the rum to the top of the glass and put some coke in it. I think more people don’t come out because there is no one trying to be different.”

He dreams of one day opening his own bar.

“I’ve learnt a lot over the years, and been trained by some good people,” he said. “I’d be crazy not to give it a try.”

Creating a splash: Daniel Moik making a cocktail at Yours Truly (Photograph by Akil Simmons)