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Going the Extra Culinary Mile

Mar 15th 11
By Peter Ziegelmeier

Being a yacht chef comes with its share of challenges: long hours, little personal time and an awesome workload. Countless hours go into food preparations and presentations for owners and guests. But for chefs, the payoff is smiles that last a long while coupled with generous compliments. Going above and beyond to please guests brings both satisfaction to your guests as well as sense of pride that is indescribable to those who do not live it every day.


The first step to ensuring a one-of-a-kind experience is to peruse the preference sheet. Formulating your provisioning list from this is a great start. Once you're aware of your guests’ tastes, you can begin to cater to their likes, wants and needs.


Variety is the spice of life. Delivering an array of dishes affords guests the opportunity to choose their favorites. A family style lunch can be a welcome change from sit-down service. Contemporary serving ware and hand-held menus complete with descriptions of dishes will allow guests to eat with all of their senses.


Freelance Chef Neal Salisbury prepares chateaubriand tableside; he wheels out a cart, with the assistance of the crew, and presents a flaming show that keeps guests talking for days. Sometimes after a great meal, Salisbury breaks out his guitar and sings for guests.


During one charter, a 14-year-old guest often came to the galley to sit with Chef Carol Adams, owner of Adams asked the girl about her favorite foods and was inspired to create Asian night, during which Adams allowed the young guest to help prepare and serve the meal.  


Chef Nina Groves’ favorite way to entice smiles from her guests is to create dishes rich in design and presentation, emulating the cruising region at the time. Her favorite is the “Malibu Iced Parfait,” a rich, creamy coconut ice cream made in a ramekin with slithers of fresh mango placed vertically around the outside. This is then turned on the dessert plate. Toasted coconut is used for a beach and an almond tuile is formed into a palm tree. To finish the scene, rum sabayon is poured on the plate in front of guests.


To give guests from Maryland a taste of home on M/Y Rena, we covered the dining room table in visqueen then brown paper, just like the crab houses found in their home state. I prepared Alaskan king crab legs, snow crab legs, peel and eat shrimp, boardwalk-style fries and corn on the cob. As each item finished cooking, I walked it out to the dining room and poured it onto the paper. The table was not set with plates or silverware. Upon entering the dining room, the guests’ mouths hung open for a few seconds, then smiles and eating commenced.


Whether it’s creating the impossible soufflé the guests asked for, having a bottle of special hot sauce flown in to the middle of nowhere or changing the menu after already prepping a meal, a perk of being a chef is the ability to take your guests expectations and blow them out of the water.


During week three of a four-week Tahitian charter, Chef Victoria Allman and her team transformed the aft deck of the yacht into a Popeye’s fried chicken-style restaurant, complete with stewardesses in fast food uniforms, all because the guests missed fast food.


Every chef has his or her own way of going over the top for guests. Passion is the driving force at work – or should I say play? Either way you look at it, chefs are incredibly lucky to hold a job that allows creative juices to continually flow. Inspiring presentations are the key to success as a high seas yacht chef.


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Tags: Essentials Chefs 

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