Each season seems to bring new and amazing adventures and the sure fire drama that “EVERYEEEEE”, boat definitely has.
It always is hurry up at the beginning, bringing the Tasmanian devil out in each of us as we whirl around desperately to get all the provisioning done, get the boat stowed and ready for the high seas and such, muster up preference sheets (fat chance), and find out what the crew likes and dislikes, discover the cliques on the vessel and find your place in the pecking order of sorts. The law of attraction simply states that opposites attract, that couldn’t be more wrong for living on board a yacht. Polarization is more like it and crossing that line will find you all alone and begging yourself to get off the boat, but you are not a quitter are you? So….you grin and bear it, or at least for as long as you can stand it!
Now as a chef our jobs are not so envied after like other positions on board the vessel. We are the first up and the last to go to bed. We put in the extra hours and go the extra mile and deliver amazing food on time all the time. We deliver hot food on hot plates and cold food on cold plates. We make sure the plates are all uniform, adding our sexy little spins on the dishes and infusing our personalities into the presentations…..ha ha ha! Most of us that is! I have heard the horror stories as a freelancer on how; “this chef would get up at ten cook something for the captain and go back to bed”, leaving the crew high and dry so to speak! “This chef would cook unhealthy food for us and ignore my gluten free regime!” How dare they I say! Well, if you want to stay in yachting, you may want to find a boat with a chef that will accommodate all the allergies on the crews and the little nuances they project. Such as; gluten free, dairy free, soy free, peanut free, shellfish free, “I don’t eat fish”, “I hate salmon….”, and on and on and on and on and on and on and ON!
Each season I find myself in some familiar places, however, generally get to experience some new and different beats other than the usual milk run. How does one go about surviving the seasons year after year after year? I believe that reinventing yourself each time you go on a different assignment is very helpful. What I mean is to change up the same food repertoire you have been doing time and time again (unless requested), and stop beating a dead horse syndrome to walk the plank.
With all the different dishes in the world it is not so hard to change up the mains each night for small lengths of time, a season perhaps, unless you are on a boat where the captain only wants meat and potatoes every meal and we know that, “NEVEEEER” happens does it?
Grilled Flatbread Reuben Sandwich and Claussen Pickle Chips Requested by Crew
Much like a captain has to navigate chartered waters or unchartered for that matter, we as chefs have to navigate our crews and our every changing guests (some never changing). I make a little food journal for each crew member as I go along and in about two weeks to a month you get to know many of their pet peeves and mouth mysteries. When I first get on and get to know each one of them I ask them to name three to five dishes each for breakfast , lunch and dinner and if you get one or two or even three then you are doing great, five a super bonus. Then deliver for them, actually surprise them each as you make their favorite meals as you go along. You will find that this will go a long way in your quest for seasonal survival!
Chef Peter Z from the Sea signing off for now!
See you next month!