Behind the Line: An Interview With Four Seasons Executive Chef Darryl Moiles

When Darryl Moiles, now executive chef at Four Seasons Palm Beach, was just a high school kid, he and his brother took over a racquetball club's steak house in Oxford, Massachusetts. Eventually he made his way to study at Johnson & Wales, then off to Four Seasons Boston for a grown-up job around 1995. He has been with the major hotelier since. 

Moiles is trained in French technique and even spent some time bonding with Julia Child, so he has really delivered Palm Beachers the simple, classic dishes they enjoy (with just enough creative flair to keep us on our Ferragamo-covered toes). He's known in foodie circles especially for his insistence on locally sourced and organic foods, mainly from Swank Specialty Produce (see our previous blog posting for more on this), and now his focus is on fresh, grilled Atlantic seafood too. 

Never been to The Restaurant at Four Seasons Palm Beach? All is forgiven now that it has reopened with a more casual atmosphere, including outdoor seating and lower prices. And on January 17, it'll present a replica of the Golden Globes' dinner menu, and on February 14, (that's Valentine's Day for you anti-sentimentalists), you can treat your lover to a four-course, Parisian-inspired "Valentine's on the Seine"-themed dinner with a Champagne toast.

Speaking of love, we get Moiles' attraction to Devil Dogs and sugar, but why the heck does he find architecture so tasty? Hmmm. Read below to vindicate our confusion:

New Times: If you came back in your next life as a food item, what would it be, and how would you like to be served? 

Darryl Moiles: Anything wild that has had a chance to enjoy life. I would prefer to be a game fish, such as the elusive marlin, and if I was to be caught, I hope it is an experienced angler that will appreciate the battle of survival and what he/she is about to receive.

NT: If you could serve a meal to any famous person, alive or dead, who would it be, and what would you cook for him/her? 

DM: Genghis Khan. Only an ultimate BBQ of Eastern and Western exotic foods. 

NT: What was your most embarrassing cooking-related moment? 

DM: Working in a banquet kitchen as the sous chef, I did not see a revised event order form and prepared the wrong entrée. The dinner prepared was the original dinner they wanted, so they were happy in the end. 

NT: What food/utensil/technique still confounds you? 

DM: Molecular gastronomy, not so much the technology but the attraction. Some things are great, but some things? Come on! What are we trying to do here?

NT: Which chef, alive or dead, would you like to challenge in Iron Chef fashion? Why do you believe you could kick his or her ass in the kitchen? 

DM: Michel Bras, but I don't think I would even be close to competing with him. I would, though, relish the opportunity to be side-by-side with a great master such as he. 

NT: What's your favorite food-/cooking-related joke? 

DM: From the Late Show With David Letterman:

Annoying Some Waiter

10. Eight-hour lunch, two-dollar tip. 

9. Ask "Excuse me, are you a really bad singer or a really bad actor?" 

8. After he describes each special, you shout, "Garbage!" 

7. Whenever he walks by, cough and mutter, "Minimum wage." 

6. Every few seconds, yell, "More waffles, Cuomo!" 

5. Insist that, before ordering, you be allowed to touch the London broil. 

4. Tie tablecloth around neck and say, "You wouldn't charge Superman for dinner, would you?" 

3. Every time you eat or drink, cough really hard. 

2. As he walks by to the kitchen, scream, "He's gonna spit in the chowder!" 

1. Three words: Eat the check.

NT: What was your best or worst dining experience? 

DM: My honeymoon in Bali. The food, culture, people, and styles all made this one of the most exotic, memorable times of my life. But also being with someone so special put it over the top. 

NT: What's your favorite soundtrack/song to cook to? 

DM: I love all music, so it depends on the mood of the food. For example, on the BBQ, I would like to hear some country, Brad Paisley perhaps. Maybe we are having some ethnic foods, so it is obvious to play what pairs with the food. Dinner with friends, a little jazz always sets the mood. So it all depends. 

NT: What is your dream culinary trip? 

DM: I would like to explore Asia with all its unique history and culture. I think it is mind-blowing to see what can be eaten. 

NT: If you weren't a chef, you'd be... ?

DM: Hungry. I have always enjoyed architecture. 

NT: What's the hottest thing a date could whip up for you in the kitchen, and why? 

DM: In this case, I don't think I am so much interested in what could be whipped but rather how it is whipped up. I think back to Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts presented breakfast with only a tie on. I am sure the meal was good, but the whole experience that was created made it exceptional. 

NT: What's your favorite junk food, and where do you get it?  

DM: Devil Dogs from Hostess. I guess childhood cravings never go away. 

NT: Aside from any restaurants you own or have interest in, which Palm Beach/Broward eatery is your favorite, and what do you like to order there? 

DM: Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza. I always have the wings, a salad, [and] different pizza every time. I like to go with my kids and my wife. I really enjoy the time with them sharing a pizza. 

NT: Please complete this sentence: Never trust a chef who...? 

DM: Lacks respect with personal hygiene. 

NT: If you could be slathered head-to-toe in one food item -- without fear of getting an allergic reaction -- what would it be, and why? 

DM: "Pour Some Sugar on Me!" AC/DC. Warm, sticky, sweet... come on.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Riki Altman