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Chef Peter's Blog

FOOD FREEDOM....Does it count with crew?

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     That elusive, dreaded, revered, delicate, delightful, and never OTM preference sheet for guests is in your hands!  Ah....time to get the wheels of thought turning and churning and your fever burning. The fever for the flavors that you had imagined, just when you take your first glance there it is....AHHHHHHHHHH......vegetarians!!!  And hypothetically speaking you have a hungry crew of carnivores!!!  LIKE OMG....what to do!!!  This is ONE of trillions of scenarios we chefs face in our day to day lives aboard charter vessels.  This can be handled, managed and quite simply done.  I have worked for captains/mates that have said, "the crew comes first around here" and wondered is the crew paying for  the charter or maybe the captain I thought." Naaaah!  Must be a dream that I just heard is true in so many instances.  Then, on the other side of the coin, I hear, "feed the crew whatever you are making the guests.....hahahahahaha I think...ok did any of the crew actually read the preference sheet of; beef ta tar, beetle juice, 3 minute eggs (try to peel those hot and in a hurry and look cosmetically attractive while nine other breakfast orders are looming and all different and complex (not by your doing - the ala carte system....sshhh dont tell!   Baby, live octopus on a stick, caviar, sliced beef tongue, etc....I think you get the point eh?  Then, this is my fav, the captain will tell me/us that he does not hire vegetarians and will not tolerate any food freedoms for the crew....I smile, shake my head (from the inside) and forge on.  NOW...what to do....I simply just have to make the sacrifices of my down time to satisfy, please and perfect everyone on the guest list and in the crew.  For me the most important part of the vessel simply is the crew, now I believe in crew "food freedom" to an extent and welcome preference sheets from each crew member and capatain (please).  Too often we chefs will hear this, "Oh..the crew and I eat everything...and it simply is just not the case.  Summarizing I would like to say that the more dishes I need to make the more it keeps me grounded, focused and practiced in this amazing field called culinary arts.  My question to you and the world is; what food freedom issues have you run across in your travels on the high seas and beyond?  Chef Peter Z and the World want to know!!!   For the record...btw....Crew Does Count!!! Go Crew!!!

On my last yacht I had some very fussy crew members. One vegan, one vego (who only ate white foods, cheese, potatoes etc), One sort of Coeliac, One lactose Intolerant and a Captain who thought he was the new Gordon Ramsey haha. So I know what you mean. You want your mates/crew to be happy and work harder and better but you only have two hands. My next boat only has four crew members so here's hoping they aren't all vegans or some such nonsense!
Posted by: Tina at 14/11/2011 01:49

I doubt you have ever served/ or prepared Beetle Juice, Live baby octopus, or Beef Tongue while being a yacht chef.Focus on the the realistic aspects of cooking on yachts
Posted by: anonomous at 15/11/2011 00:35

Hello Anonomous - you as others have failed to get the point. This is a hypothetical situation to spark the imagination of Chefs to talk about their experiences aboard yachts pertaining to issues surrounding the captains and crews about food freedoms or food non-freedoms...Now Beef Tongue is a staple asked for on kosher/semi-kosher charters which I have served, and live baby octopus on a stick is not uncommon in waters of the pacific rim, (personally I have not served it yet and await my chance to do so. Beetle juice is the absurdity here, however a delicacy on survivor. Now...are you a chef "anonomous"?
Posted by: Chef Peter Ziegelmeier at 15/11/2011 05:19

I'm guessing the answer to your last question is No Peter, just another ignorant crew member.
Posted by: Alexia at 18/11/2011 23:23

Get'm Pete! Us Chefs are the heart and sole of the boat/crew. To many times Ive been asked to do extra ordinary thinks for guest, charter brokers and unappreciative crew with no regard for my own personal sanity. 68 weeks of charter in 3.5 years.....I've seen, heard, and delt with it all. The thing that gets me the most is everyone's a critic whether they could do it better or not.
Posted by: Chef J at 20/11/2011 20:10

I have had to educate myself about diseases that can be controlled by diet. Once for a diabetic owner and once for an owner in the early stages of M.S. In the later case, I had to think far ahead in order to provision for a long crossing considering the strict vegan/gluten-free diet for one(important one) while keeping the meat loving guests and crew happy. And there was the need to refrigerate medications, which left less space for fresh foods! But it is meeting the challenge successfully that pleases us true foody types!
Posted by: dj at 21/11/2011 00:35

With a little bit of thought, patience, creativity and LOVE - it could be as easy as mixing in some beans or legumes with what you've already prepared. I've cooked on yachts for 20 years, with all kinds of palates and preferences with the crew and guests. I consider a privilege to have this type of work, and, as a Chef, I feel an obligation to do my very best work for every person on board. I'm also a vegetarian, and as such, know firsthand the uneducated opinions and criticisms that come with my endeavors to try to lead a healthy, sustainable, and compassionate existence on this fragile planet. Funny how so much of that criticism comes from a fellow crew member that sees no harm in tossing a pack of cigarette butts per day into the dying oceans. But - back on point. If you can stock a few items in your pantry, many that won't take up much room - dried beans and legumes, tofu that doesn't need refrigeration, dried soya chunks, tempeh; all of which would aid in getting the protein onto the plate and can all be found at most grocery stores, you can start from there and just add your meals fresh vegetables and starch.(link for nutritional info on vegan meal plans: I have cooked for large crews/guest rosters that had every type of time-consuming palate included, and learned to have a few offerings on the table that would accommodate them all. (obviously, family-style service makes it easier). Cooking for vegans is another matter, but it could still be as easy as a one-pot meal, or, on smaller vessels, perhaps working it out with that crew member to let them have an hour's access to the galley once or twice a week to prepare a few meals for themselves. Keep in mind certain ethnic cuisines that would work for everyone - Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Italian - where many dishes would keep everyone happy, and have a side dish of bolognese or a meat dish cooked separately. The trend IS towards meatless meals, and more and more people are realizing that factory farming and aqua culture farms are not only decimating our planet, but also poisoning the consumer (great documentary highlighting this statement:, and another to inform on what's behind that piece of fish just bought:( Now, if I might pose a question to all of the Chef's out there: if you could purchase a complete meal, vacuum packed for freezer, that would address specific palates (gluten-free, vegan, low carb, etc), would you buy it or have it shipped in? Have you done this before from any of the typical marine suppliers/chandlers? Thanks for keeping your crew happy and nourished, powered up for that next round of guests. Fair winds!
Posted by: anonymous at 21/11/2011 16:53

Oh That has to be the biggest load of Bologna I have ever heard, oh sorry your vegetarian so load of tofu I have ever heard. Being a vegetarian is a choice, so you chose to complicate your life with food oddities. Being crew means you are one unit and should function as one unit, eat as one unit and work as one unit. There is no room or time for personal oddities nor should the chef have to cater to it. I don't like raw tomatoes so I push them to the side opposed to making more work for a crew member. If you can't meet the criteria then get a land based job.
Posted by: J Blevins at 22/11/2011 15:13

hey Blevins - how long have you been in the industry? "no room or time for personal oddities"? Have you actually lived on a yacht with a group of people? There's plenty of personal oddities. "Eat as one unit"? Seriously? Is being a meat eater a choice? Have YOU complicated your life with food oddities? Ignorance is also a choice; get a bloody education, mate. There are cultures throughout the world that, for many different reasons, abstain from different types of food, meat or otherwise (Kosher? Hindu? Buddhists?), but perhaps your ideal "unit" is all white, Anglo Saxon, Protestant and men. Glad I'm not sailing with you...
Posted by: anonymous at 28/11/2011 12:20

Ok...I give up! Now there is hatred and discrimination being brought into this........I support everyones viewpoint with respect....please do not bring such ugly aspects into this anonymous....this post was to disclose the DIFFERENT SITUATIONS THAT CHEFS HAVE. That is all. No need for haters.
Posted by: Chef Peter Ziegelmeier at 28/11/2011 13:39

Posted by: Sailboathater at 29/11/2011 21:37

Posted by: Sailboathater at 29/11/2011 21:37

What is a Wafi....I found this

Wafi is a popular Arabic name that expresses multiple good characteristics such as "reliable", "trustworthy",...

this is a good thanks!
Posted by: Chef Peter Zieglemeier at 30/11/2011 18:13

Don't you just love it.... Crews are so ungrateful now days, Chefs are being bullied by crybabies. You all make enough dough to go get your own special sauce ect.. Chefs jobs are to please the owners and guest. Where does it say they are the crews personal chef as well.Now I don't condone feeding the crew bread and water, but really look at this issue. Give me this and give me that..?? Who are you people..???? How about all of the chefs get togather and make one policy..Let's sharpen or knives. Take back our creative control and announce that on todays menu is.. take it or leave. Case close...oh by the way this was the policy pre 1991...Sad you can't have even a discussion anymore without spoiled babies crying about their veggies or privileged palate. Ask yourself this, Self would I be eating this good if I lived back home. Let's have some respect for the chefs onboard that you don't have at home or where ever you come from...
Posted by: Mary at 01/12/2011 04:59

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