Sous Chef Roxy Simpson of M/Y Amaryllis on keeping everyone happy.
I became a yacht chef three years ago. Prior to that, I had been flittering through life trying to find something to call my own. I had a bachelor’s degree in psychology and writing from the University of Cape Town but was unsure if I wanted to take it further. I got pretty lucky when I got a Green Card and moved to Florida. As it goes, a friend of a friend suggested yachting where I tried my hand at being a stewardess. It was fun but not for me. By that stage, an interest in cooking had begun, and the rest is history.
After taking a year off from yachting as a stew, I found myself working as a cook in a boutique restaurant earning minimum wage but feeling quite fulfilled as I was enjoying it. I decided then that I wanted to develop my skills further. I attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and spent 15 months immersing myself in culture cooking. It took about three months thereafter to find my first job.
I adore baking and experimenting with a variety of appetites. A generous budget does not hurt. Of course, yachting allows me to live this surreal and wonderful life where I get to travel and have access to amazing fresh ingredients and a span of interesting characters that make up my yacht family. This encompasses my love for my job.
The most difficult part of the job is keeping inspiration up and everyone happy. As with any job, it has its ups and downs — some days are harder than others, my hands take a beating, cuts and burns pop up when I’m tired and overworked. But I love my job and I love this industry. This makes it all worth it.
My favorite cuisine is French and Indian. I love the fine finishes of French cooking — the mentality and style. And of course, I love French food so I’m naturally biased. Indian cuisine is fun and I love all the aromatic flavors. In South Africa, we have a strong Indian food presence, so these tastes are familiar to me.
I love baking bread and I love making lasagna, but my all-time favorite is bao buns. Every time I make these, some element changes and the taste takes me in a different direction. With so many protein options, I can make these vegan, meaty, gourmet, or just plain fun. I try to make these every month. It’s a really rewarding process for all to enjoy, guests and crew alike.
My ideal guest is someone who is open-minded, cheery, and as experimental as I am.
The strangest request I’ve ever received was baked beans on pizza. Strange but true!
Follow Roxy on Instagram @Chef.RoxySimpson.
This column is taken from the September 2020 issue of Dockwalk.