Food & Wine

Superyacht Chefs Share Their Festive Holiday Dishes

17 December 2021By Laura Shaughnessy
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iStock/Marcelo Verfe

Written by

Laura Shaughnessy

Laura Shaughnessy has been the managing editor at Dockwalk since February 2018. Having grown up among the cornfields, she is ecstatic to be among the boats in the yachting capital of the world. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s in journalism, 15 years of experience with newspapers, magazines, and the online world, Laura has joined a great crew. When not writing about superyacht crew, she’s hanging out with her husband and their German Shepherd. Email Laura at laura@dockwalk.com.

Superyacht chefs provide one of the most enviable life experiences most people can think of: cooking high-class meals aboard a yacht for paying clients. So, we couldn’t resist compiling several original holiday recipes from yacht chefs to celebrate this time of year.

Chef Tracy-Jane Ingle

South African Head Chef Tracy-Jane Ingle’s traditional South African pudding is her late grandma’s recipe. “And I tweaked it to add the toffee apples and the way it’s decorated.”

Chef Ingle, who landed her first job as the owners’ personal chef on board a yacht in Sydney in 2008, first fell in love with cooking at a young age thanks to her grandmother. That’s why it’s probably no surprise that she’d be a big fan of her cooking. Her favorite holiday dish “has to be my Granny’s Tipsy Tart. I love the smell and how it tastes delicious. It always reminds me of Christmas.”

For Ingle, this time of year is special because it’s “the chance to feel like a kid again. Whether you are five or 85, the holiday season is a time to really just enjoy yourself and reflect on all the good things in life.” But, she says, “Don’t go overboard. Also, take some time to enjoy this day with the crew and make time to speak to loved ones far away.” You can find her on Instagram at @garden_full_of_greens.

Tipsy Tart

Tart:
>3/4 cup of roughly chopped and pitted dates
>3/4 cup of granulated sugar
>1 tsp bicarb of soda
>1 1/4 cup plain flour
>1 large egg beaten
>3/4 cup boiling water
>2 Tbsp butter
>1 Tbsp tepid water
>2 tsp baking powder
>1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
>1/2 tsp salt

Syrup:
>3/4 cup water
>1 1/4 cup white sugar
>1 tsp vanilla extract
>4 Tbsp butter
>1/2 cup of good Brandy

Preheat oven 180° degrees. Put 1/2 of the dates, boiling water, sugar, and butter in a pan bring to boil for three to four minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly. Mix bicarb and tepid water and add to the date mix; it should froth up. Sift the flour and baking powder into mix and add the rest of the dates and nuts. Blend in the egg and mix well. Pour mixture into a buttered dish and bake for about 40 minutes. While tart is baking, make the syrup.

Syrup: Boil all the ingredients except Brandy for three to four minutes just before you take the tart out the oven. When you take it out the oven, poke little holes in it to absorb all the syrup. Mix the Brandy with the syrup and immediately — but slowly — pour over the tart. Leave it to cool so the syrup can dissolve and serve with Chantilly Cream or vanilla ice cream.

Chef Rebecca Yewdall

I absolutely love being a superyacht chef. I love to please my guests and crew with delicious, tasty food and can only compare the feeling to when you’ve sung a song on stage and the crowd loves it!” says British Freelance Chef Rebecca Yewdall. 

When on board for Christmas in the Caribbean, “I like to make things very tropical and fun with lots of fresh seafood and a delicious barbecue. Christmas with my family is different every year. My mother and aunt are both exceptional cooks, so we like to shake things up a bit and often stray from the traditional fare!” She’s prepared Thai food at Christmas and a lobster Christmas lunch. “One year was very funny though: we had a Medieval-themed menu complete with a Medieval re-enactor who was a lodger at the time! I look forward to whatever we’re doing each year at home — I like to ask what we can do different every year.”

This time of year holds a special place in her heart because it’s when she gets together with her big, crazy family comprising six brothers and one sister. “My aunt goes wild with the Christmas décor, which really sets a magical scene that’s ready for all the mayhem! My father is a DJ, as are some of my brothers, so we enjoy lots of music, fun, games, and of course, delicious food.”

See her on Instagram at @Yachtever_works_ and visit her website at www.cookingwithrebecca.yolasite.com.

Crab and Lobster Roll with Melon Gazpacho

Crab and Lobster Roll:
>800g of mixed and cooked jumbo lump crab & lobster meat. (Approx 1 lobster + 1 crab)
>20g mayonnaise
>Zest of 1 lemon
>A dash of TABASCO
>3 ripe but firm avocados

Melon Gazpacho:
>1 cantaloupe melon pealed and diced
>2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
>A glug of good quality olive oil
>1 Tbsp of Sherry vinegar
>Salt and pepper to taste

Mix crab and lobster meat with mayo and lemon zest. Using a potato peeler, peel slices of avocado and lay onto cling film. Put crab and lobster meat into a sausage shape on top of the avocado and roll. Fix ends tightly and carefully put on a tray in the fridge until ready to serve. For the melon gazpacho, purée the cantaloupe melon, add sherry vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Once ready to serve, pour a little gazpacho into the bowl and slice the lobster and crab roll and place in the middle.

Serves 4 as a starter.

Chef Andrew Cale

British Chef Andrew Cale from Yorkshire, UK, showcases his unique take on Christmas stuffing. “I chose it because it’s simple, yet people notice it at the dinner table (better then opening a packet),” he says.

His favorite holiday fare: Mulled wine with mince pies. You really know the Christmas holidays have arrived when you are sat in front of the fire eating mince pies and drinking a warm glass of mulled wine. You only get this at Christmas!”

It’s no secret that preparing in advance is key for any event. But for Cale, it bears repeating. “Prepare in advance — a lot of flavor and time can be created by preparing some things in advance, such as sauces, puddings, and stuffings. Let these things rest and absorb all the flavor!”

Like many others, this time of year is special because of “the family time. Even if I am not with my own, it’s nice to see that the people on board are enjoying the festive period and that I am making their time memorable and special.”

Pork, Apricot, and Thyme Christmas Stuffing

>250 grams sausage meat
>5 dried apricots (40 grams) (diced)
>20 grams dried mixed fruits
>1 sprig of thyme
>1 small garlic clove (crushed)
>1/2 medium red onion (fine dice)
>10 grams flaked almonds
>15 grams oats
>1 tsp honey
>1/2 tsp whole grain mustard

Tip: To stop the meat from sticking to your hands, dip your fingers in cold water.

Cook at 180°C/356°F for 20-30 minutes. Mix all ingredients together and shape as required into individual small portions or one large terrine. If you make a sausage, it may need wrapping in a bit of baking parchment and foil. You can also wrap the mixture in bacon for homemade pigs in blankets.

Serves 4–6.

Chef Stuart Lewis

In British Head Chef Stuart Lewis’s opinion, when cooking for guests on a high-pressured day, it’s all too easy to forget about bread. “My cooking style is light and clean and my favorite cuisine to make is healthy molecular gastronomy. This is huge in my style of cooking and leaves guests stunned and longing for more. I also love making bread, so my favorite thing to cook is all types of bread.”

Although he doesn’t have a favorite holiday dish, what makes this time of year special is “the enjoyment of others,” he says. “As chefs, we cook, not eat, and dedicate our holiday to others’ enjoyment. We do this because we love to see other people happy, so I suppose my favorite dish is to see people’s happiness. However, cauliflower cheese with truffle and gratinated parmesan comes pretty close.”

If you find yourself making that tried-and-true staple of turkey, Lewis has some advice: “With minimal time and space to prepare masses of food, it sometimes feels impossible to cook anything else than your three- to four-hour turkey. One quick tip I learned years ago that has been a blessing: Debone your turkey, leave in brine for 24 hours to tenderize, then roll it in your stuffing of choice. Next, wrap it in parma ham, as this minimizes waste and can be prepared the day before. This will feed so much more people and save you a lot of oven space.”

Follow him on Instagram at @ChefStuartLewis for more cooking inspiration.

Sage, Smoked Cranberry Rock Salt Focaccia Recipe

Focaccia:
>
500 grams strong flour
>20 grams of semolina
>15 grams of activated yeast
>50 grams flavored extra virgin oil (dependent of your variation)
>320 grams of water weight is essential (tried and tested)
>10 grams salt regular
>5 grams smoked cranberry Maldon salt

Pre-heat the oven to 250°C. Mix the flour and the semolina together and rub in the yeast, and let stand for five minutes. Add olive oil, water, and regular salt. Cover mixture with olive oil and allow the dough to proof in a warm place with cling film on the bowl, for 90 minutes. Add smoked Maldon salt, then place it in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and place over resting tray. Keep brushing with oil every 10 minutes until cool.

You’ll get perfect bread every time.

Chef Geoffrey Fisher

British/Maltese Head Chef Geoffrey Fisher reveals his Christmas Pudding Cookies, which are perfect for holiday festivities.

Chef Fisher, who comes from a diverse background of cooking in restaurants, hotels, and private houses, first discovered cooking aboard yachts in 2006 when a friend needed help at the Monaco Grand Prix. Since then, he’s cheffed aboard yachts like M/Y Slipstream. “Food is fashion and always changing. Having a passion for what you do makes you eager to learn new skills and knowledge.”

The holiday dish that he looks forward to every year is the Chocolate Yule Log “because it brings back so many memories as a child.” As for what makes Christmas so special for him, it’s spending it with family.

Follow him for more delicious creations on Instagram and Facebook at @Geoff.The.Chef.

>150 grams unsalted butter
>225 grams soft brown sugar
>1 egg
>1 tsp vanilla extract
>275 grams plain flour
>1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
>1 tsp baking powder
>150 grams cooked Christmas pudding
>100 grams milk chocolate chips

First, cream together the butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla until combined. Add flour, bicarbonate of soda, and baking powder. Next, mix in then add chunks of Christmas pudding and chocolate chips. Mix well and roll into a sausage shape in clingfilm, firm it up in the fridge, and cut into one-half-centimeter discs. Now, bake on a greased baking sheet at 170° Celsius until golden but still soft. Cool on a wire rack, then enjoy!

Makes 12-14 cookies.

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