Mahogany House Part 1: The Chef
"Island living is not for everyone. Most everything you need is imported, expensive, and not always available. You can either choose to be upset and bitter about it...or accept it, adapt, and move on." Mahogany House's chef Dan Quirk shared how he combats exasperation from not always getting the right ingredients for the high end Bahamas restaurant. One must be highly organized, constantly prepared, and wickedly creative.
“When it storms, the fishermen aren’t out fishing so it’s unlikely I’ll get the seafood items I normally do. I must have a back up plan. Or if the day's shipment brings romaine lettuce of poor quality, then I just don’t serve Caesar salad that day.”
Dan, who hails from Delaware and formally trained in culinary arts, is not new to switching things up at a moment’s notice. Prior to working for Mahogany House, he was a member of a three-chef kitchen team at The Matyson, a once-upon-a-time restaurant in Philadelphia. Their 5-course tasting menu comprised of eclectic offerings that changed weekly.
It seems crazy how he hurdles such challenges. For example, the kitchen is not equipped with those industrial size walk-in freezers. Still he dishes out his masterpieces using fresh ingredients. Through my one-on-one with the 24-year old chef, I uncovered more reasons contributing to the rising popularity and acclaim of Mahogany House.
“It started out as an idea to bring together the local people and their guests,” Chef Dan proudly spoke about the restaurant's beginnings. The Bahamian-owned establishment opened in 2010, intended to be a gathering place, be it a watering hole for wine aficionados or a venue for locals to entertain their visitors. Its resounding success ushered the development of the neighboring 30-room boutique hotel, The Island House, on an 8-acre property near Lyford Cay. (More on The Island House in my next story.)
Mahogany House's simple yet sophisticated interior evokes a sense of belonging. You instantly feel at ease here. The restaurant’s team, especially the chef, mirrors this ambience with their warmth and friendliness. They make you feel like you’re family.
The dining experience here is also flexible. Dan explained that you can choose to casually sit at the bar for pizza and beer; dine al fresco, sharing small plates paired with a glass of wine; or sit at a table in the main dining room and indulge in impressive entrees like duck confit manicotti, kurabata pork chop, or the menu's superstar: the blackened snapper.
“What I love about Mahogany House is that it continues to evolve,” he stated with delight, citing that they recently revamped the menu design, introduced a whole new line of menu selections, and even reconfigured the seating and dining table arrangement. “It’s a product of great collaboration.”
It’s not unusual to catch Dan at the front of house or working at the pasta station on some nights. He’s involved in all aspects of the restaurant operations and is a true team player. Although cooking is his passion, his eyes light up the brightest when he talks about his team. He is proudest when his team members rise up the ranks as a product of his mentoring and training.
Over the years, Mahogany House has gained a strong following from both locals and visitors alike, including those with celebrated names (and I mean BIG names). A sampling of the best-selling items on his menu made it clear to me why patrons give Mahogany House a roaring approval and keep coming back for more. Continued in next blog post called "Showstoppers."
Mahogany House is one of three dining options at The Island House, located in Mahogany Hill on Western Road (found on the west side of New Providence Island, The Bahamas.) Just outside the exclusive Lyford Cay Club, it is about a 10-minute drive from Lynden Pindling International Airport.