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HomeFoodHow Daniela Moreira Began Making Washington, D.C.’s Finest Bagels

How Daniela Moreira Began Making Washington, D.C.’s Finest Bagels

In How I Obtained My Job, people from throughout the meals and restaurant trade reply Eater’s questions on, nicely, how they bought their job. In the present day’s installment: Daniela Moreira.

When Daniela Moreira first determined to open her award-winning bagel retailer Name Your Mom, she had by no means eaten a bagel earlier than. The Argentinian chef had received a scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America, labored at Eleven Madison Park, and began a profitable pizza enterprise that earned her an Eater Younger Weapons award in 2017 — however she had by no means tried a bagel. It was her lack of awareness concerning the beloved carbohydrate, although, that enticed her to aim to excellent it. Moreira loves a problem. “I needed to attempt a brand new delicacies that I didn’t have a lot expertise with,” she remembers. “Researching and testing new recipes is the place I thrive.”

Moreira traversed the US, from New York to South Florida to San Francisco, sampling bagels and different regional Jewish meals to determine the weather and flavors she needed to convey to her personal menu. (She additionally had bagels shipped in from Canada.) She then spent 9 months within the lab (in any other case often known as her Timber Pizza Co. kitchen) growing her perfect bagel recipe, which — with a touch of honey — leads to a cheerful medium between fluffy, savory New York bagels and dense, candy Montreal bagels. “It really was trial and error,” she shares. “I by no means stopped at ‘ok.’”

The primary Name Your Mom, billed as a Jew-ish deli, opened in Washington D.C.’s Park View neighborhood in 2018. It was a direct hit, with traces forming across the block, and ultimately landed on Eater’s Finest New Restaurant listing in 2019. As a response to the ever-growing demand, Moreira and her Jewish husband and enterprise accomplice Andrew Dana have since opened one other 9 places within the nation’s capital, Maryland, Virginia, and Denver — and much more are within the works.

Right here, Moreira shares her path from Argentina to the US, how she made the change from wonderful eating to pizza and bagels, and why she treats her companies like a startup.

Eater: What did you initially need to do whenever you began your profession?

Daniela Moreira: After I was in highschool in Argentina, all I needed to do was see the world. I believed that the option to see it was by a profession in cooking — I had grown up cooking alongside my mother. There was a second the place I needed to work on a cruise ship, however my mother and father mentioned, “No means!”

Did you go to culinary college or faculty?

I went to culinary college in Córdoba, Argentina for 2 years earlier than transferring to the US at 20 years outdated. I attended the culinary program for grownup immigrants at Carlos Rosario in Washington D.C., the place I received a full scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. I at all times labored a aspect job whereas at school to pay for my day-to-day wants. I then spent 5 months working at Eleven Madison Park perfecting my wonderful eating expertise.

A chef slides a wooden paddle of bagels into an oven.

Chef Daniela Moreira makes bagels at Name Your Mom.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

What was your first job? What did it contain?

My unofficial first job was serving to my mother and father within the kitchen (and serving to with different duties like portray and constructing tables) on the summer time camp they personal by the river in Córdoba. My mother had a small restaurant by the highway and my siblings and I might transfer there each summer time to work. At 16, my first official paid job was on the native bar in my hometown as a bartender. One night time, the chef couldn’t are available in, so I volunteered to make pizzas and after that was employed because the pizza-maker till 12 p.m. and bartender till shut at 6 a.m.

What was the largest problem you confronted whenever you have been beginning out within the trade?

The trade in Argentina was very aggressive and male-dominated. It was tough to land a job as an 18-year-old lady. I bear in mind stopping by so many eating places I needed to work at, and typically they wouldn’t transfer ahead with an interview merely after seeing me.

After which, years later, after ending culinary college on the CIA and dealing in wonderful eating at Eleven Madison Park, I misplaced my ardour for cooking. I labored so laborious in such a aggressive world that I misplaced observe of what cooking was all about and why I fell in love with it within the first place. For some time, I used to be doubting if I even needed a profession in culinary anymore.

What was the turning level that led to the place you are actually?

I got here again to D.C. after working at my mother and father’ camp in Argentina for 10 months as a result of residing right here [in my early 20s] was the happiest I’d ever been. That’s once I met Andrew Dana, who’s now my husband and enterprise accomplice. He was cooking pizzas out of a wood-fired oven at a farmers market. I noticed him and his pal blasting music, making amazing-looking pizzas amongst different farmers and producers, and it jogged my memory of dwelling. I requested him for a part-time job whereas I waited to begin a job that I had lined up at a model new wonderful eating restaurant. After three months of working with Andrew, and quite a lot of convincing from him, I gave up the wonderful eating world and determined pizza could be my life!

When was the primary time you felt profitable?

My dad came around from Argentina once I had my first daughter, Jojo, and in a kind of conversations he mentioned, “Do you two notice what you’ve constructed?” Stepping again from the day-to-day operations, seeing every little thing from afar, and understanding I gave delivery on the day we opened our ninth Name Your Mom location was really gratifying.

Watching development occur with out us operating the day-to-day operations in every retailer and seeing our superb workforce be a driving power for the enterprise is particular. Our employees takes a lot satisfaction in what they do and at instances they do it higher than us! Through the first years of our first restaurant, Timber Pizza, after we have been making each single pizza, after which the early days of Name Your Mom, after we have been baking each single bagel, should you advised me that solely 5 years later I might see all of it taking place with out me, I might not have believed it.

What does your job contain? What’s your favourite half about it?

Day-after-day is completely different. As an proprietor of the enterprise, my days depend upon the place we’re at with our targets for the corporate. I simply spent two months in Denver opening our latest Name Your Mom retailer, which had me working the road with the workforce and making bagels prefer it was day one. My favourite a part of my job is seeing how staff develop inside our firm. I really like seeing how folks grasp one place and are then desperate to step into new roles.

A bagel sandwich and steaming cup of coffee at Call Your Mother.

Bagel sandwich and occasional at Name Your Mom in Washington D.C.
Images by Gary He

What would shock folks about your job?

My job is tough. Day-after-day is a problem and also you solely get one likelihood to make a very good first impression. Within the restaurant trade, you get new clients each single day, so the stakes are very excessive. You actually can not enable your self to have a chill or straightforward day.

How are you making change in your trade?

Since day one in all Timber Pizza and Name Your Mom, we advised our staff to see working with us as a startup relatively than a restaurant, and that they may develop with us as a lot as they needed to. I really like that we’re creating alternatives by not having a ceiling within the kitchen. It’s an organization that individuals can construct careers round. It’s not one thing I noticed in my beginnings within the restaurant trade in Argentina. We’re offering the instruments to make our groups profitable, together with providing language courses and workshops on how you can open financial institution accounts.

What would you’ve gotten completed in a different way in your profession?

I consider that every little thing occurs for a purpose, so I wouldn’t change something. The whole lot I’ve completed to this point has taught me useful classes that I take advantage of in my life day-after-day.

What recommendation would you give somebody who desires your job?

Work very laborious, each single day. Don’t take no for a solution and at all times preserve pushing.

It’s additionally not as fulfilling to do that by yourself, so I’d advise that you just construct a fantastic workforce that desires to work simply as laborious as you. I used to be fortunate to seek out Andrew, who shares the identical ardour, values, and love for the enterprise that I’ve. There’s nothing as stunning as after we get to share the wins collectively as a result of we all know precisely how a lot laborious work went into it.

This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.

Morgan Goldberg is a contract author based mostly in New York.



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