Yuzu by Dan Moon
Originally from London, Dan Moon moved to Devon at a young age, where his passion for cooking would begin. Having previously worked at a number of top restaurants, such as 'Dan Moon at The Gainsborough Restaurant', where he achieved numerous awards and accolades, including three AA Rosettes and The Caterers Acorn Award, the pandemic gave Dan the perspective and inspiration to start his own food concept - Yuzu by Dan Moon.
We caught up with Dan to chat about the new venture, his style and food ethos, and his love of foraging.
Many congratulations on your new venture ‘Yuzu by Dan Moon’, tell us a little more about it and how the idea came about?
Thank you! It’s a very exciting journey for me to be on, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to start my own business.
To set the scene a little, I’m not ashamed to say that I found lockdown extremely hard at the start, mainly because all I’ve known for a very long time, is getting up each day, going to a restaurant, six days a week, morning, noon and night to cook. Staying home, day after day was an extremely bizarre situation for me to find myself in and although I was grateful for the opportunity to spend more time with my wife and children, I started to find after a few weeks that I was really missing cooking my style of food for people and having the opportunity to exercise some culinary creativity.
One evening, my wife and I were talking, and we both mentioned that we each had an idea of something that I could do to get back into cooking and channel my creativity into. We quickly realised that we both had the same thought about me creating DIY dining kits, where I write the menu and do all of the hard work; creating sauces, and prepping dishes so that whoever purchases a box, simply has to heat a few things up and follow a simple step by step guide to plate up their own fun, interactive and most importantly, delicious, at home dining experience.
And so, Yuzu by Dan Moon was born!
"I was grateful for the opportunity to spend more time with my wife and children, I started to find after a few weeks that I was really missing cooking my style of food for people and having the opportunity to exercise some culinary creativity."
Where did the name ‘Yuzu’ come from?
I fell in love with the Yuzu fruit when it was introduced to me on a working visit to Singapore; so much so that it went straight onto my signature tasting scallop and crab dish served with seaweed, as it really helped to cut through those big rich flavours in a remarkable way.
Also, looking further back to my time at Homewood, we re-branded the restaurant ‘Lime’ and I loved the vibrancy of this brand so I always knew that I wanted something similar when I started my own business.
It’s really nice that the brand has a little story now that I have my own dining kit business and I’m really looking forward to having the chance to hang the name above the door on the restaurant that I’m planning on opening later this year, where I’m looking to showcase even more extensively my love for classic flavours with Asian influences. There’s lots of exciting things to come from my new brand and I cannot wait to share this journey with everyone that has supported me so incredibly along the way.
So with the new tasting boxes, can home cooks of all abilities try their hand at cooking the dishes?
Absolutely anyone can create a special at home dining experience with my boxes as I provide everything needed, all pre-prepped so that my customer simply has to follow the easy-to-follow step by step guide for each dish. (There are even pictures that can be followed, to show how I present the dishes).
What has been the initial feedback and what are the plans for the new business moving forward?
Initial feedback has been incredible, the thing that everyone has been feeding back is that the kits are great fun and that being able to have an amazing food experience at home, without the hassle of worrying about a babysitter or getting taxis is amazing!
I’m my own biggest critic, so I was extremely nervous about the initial feedback but now I’m finding it so wonderful and exciting to see lots of people documenting their fun evening of cooking and dining and being so proud that they have presented a dish just as I would in a restaurant setting; it’s absolutely brilliant.
The fact that I’ve already had return guests makes me super happy and makes me feel excited for what’s to come in the coming months.
How often will the menus be updated and are there any special/seasonal ideas you have planned?
Menus chance monthly, this allows me to really utilise lots of delicious, fresh seasonal, local produce that I source from some of the best local suppliers.
Seasonally, I have just launched an exciting BBQ box, this includes mouth-watering meats sourced from local family butchers, Walter Rose & Son fresh, seasonal salads and a delicious dessert. I’m even including marshmallow kebabs as my son and daughter told me that no BBQ is complete without marshmallows!
Also, keep a look out for our special Fathers-Day kit launching soon.
You will be well known to many readers from your time at Homewood Park and the Gainsborough, but what would you say your style and ethos are?
Classic flavours, Asian influences, modern presentation and techniques.
My ethos is to have fun and experiment with flavours, pushing my own boundaries is what will help to keep me relevant and engaging as a chef. My previous team and I always had the attitude of “question everything “, this way, we always kept pushing ourselves in trying to heighten the guest experience so that we could deliver the most memorable dining experience possible.
"My ethos is to have fun and experiment with flavours, pushing my own boundaries is what will help to keep me relevant and engaging as a chef.."
The pandemic has affected a lot of people in a number of different ways. What have your learnt about yourself or your values over this time?
I’ve learnt to always be true to myself, to value those who I have around me and to give back to the local community as much as possible. I’ve also realised that it’s important to get on and live life to the full as we never know what could be around the corner, so my new mantra is to live today for today; keep dreaming big and working hard!
Since starting Yuzu, I’ve been fortunate to have been asked to be a Brand Ambassador Chef for local ethical company Foie Royale, this is great for me as I’m passionate about ethical food production.
I was also delighted to have the opportunity to work with Bath Rugby Foundation on their Easter Break Out programme, I created and delivered a healthy packed lunch menu for the children and teens that attended the programme and I’m looking forward to supporting this incredible local charity on an ongoing basis - the work that they do to support young and vulnerable children in our local community really inspires me and I am keen to do all I can to support them.
My plan moving forward is to start reaching out to local colleges, to offer cooking demos with students and to lend a hand where I can with their learning journey as I think it’s very important to show support in these difficult time for the hospitality industry as it works to recover from the effects of the past 18 months.
Are there any ingredients that you have discovered, or rediscovered, over the lockdown?
Not necessarily re-discovered but I absolutely love wild-garlic season and to be able to go out and forage for my own wild garlic this year and last year was so exciting as it’s such a unique, special and versatile ingredient.
How can readers keep up-to-date with 'Yuzu by Dan Moon’?
I would love for readers to connect with me, they can do so by following Yuzu by Dan Moon on Instagram or Facebook, connecting with my Instagram account @danmoonchef or by signing up to my newsletter at www.yuzubydanmoon.co.uk