Chefs promise an explosion of taste for Restaurants Week
A taste of Bermuda was served up to diners last night to kick off Restaurants Week, with visiting celebrity chef Dawn Burrell hard at work yesterday afternoon preparing a special menu.
Ms Burrell, a former Olympian who has travelled the world exploring cuisine, is on her first visit to Bermuda courtesy of the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
Taking a quick break from the kitchen of the Harbourfront Restaurant, Ms Burrell gave The Royal Gazette some hints of what was in store.
“I have been foraging along the coastline here, and I am sure a lot of it will be reflected in the meal this evening,” she said.
Mr Burrell said she had been intrigued by “the things we find growing in this lovely place – I’m going to do my best to reflect the island in my offering”.
The US chef is a series finalist from the Bravo TV show Top Chef, and won her first James Beard nomination in 2020 for Best Chef: Texas.
Ms Burrell, who arrived on Monday and leaves tomorrow, said Restaurants Week marked a fine opportunity to bring her kitchen team and discover the food of Bermuda.
“There’s a Caribbean influence, but it’s really a melting pot of a lot of culture,” she said.
“The beauty of an island in the middle of the Atlantic is there’s a lot of seafood to experience as well.”
Her exploration of the island also took her to Crystal Caves in Hamilton Parish – and Tom Wadson’s farm in Southampton.
For Ms Burrell, her background as an 2000 Olympian is “one and the same” with her cooking.
“It takes that commitment to your craft,” she said. “They both require diligence – and perseverance when things go wrong. You need all those qualities to be an elite athlete.”
Much of her background lies in Asian cooking, and Ms Burrell draws also on her family roots in the South. She described her style as “global comfort”.
“I don’t play favourites,” she added. “I travelled the world running track and field, and I have had experiences with food that I feel very special about. I’ve been very happy to have the ability to travel and learn.”
Ms Burrell’s work experience ranges from Chef Tom Aikens in London to Monica Pope in Houston.
She worked at Uchi Restaurant in Houston, which led to a sous chef position at its sister restaurant in Austin.
Her style of cooking was honed during her tenure as an executive chef at the modern Southern restaurant Kulture.
Ms Burrell will serve a four-course meal for diners this evening for the Restaurant Weeks celebrity chef VIP experience.
The Reefs Resort and Club in Southampton is also participating in the much anticipated culinary event, and has a host of Bermudian-inspired dishes on offer.
Chris Garland, restaurant manager at the hotel, invited The Royal Gazette to photograph some of the dishes that will be served over the six-week period. The menu includes lentil and roast pumpkin salad, almond-crusted rock fish, braised beef shirt rib, pan-seared duck breast and the Gosling’s Black Seal pecan pie.
Mr Garland said: “We are trying to use local produce. We are also taking care of every dietary need so there will be vegan, vegetarian, gluten free items …”
Mr Garland said Restaurant Weeks presents an opportunity for the public to come out to enjoy reduced-prices and to support the food and beverage industry which took a hard hit during the pandemic.
He added: “With the low hotel count at the moment I would hope it brings people out.
“It is an expended opportunity for people to dine out at as many places as possible – the industry needs all it can get. The customer base has suffered too – the opportunity to spent has diminished through reduced wages and increased cost of living.
“Restaurant Weeks helps not just the operation but also the staff we have – the more people we have coming through the doors, the more people we can have on shift.”