Q&A with Freelance Sole Chef Abigail Pawlik

1 February 2021 By Laura Shaughnessy
Superyacht Chef Abigail Pawlik’s Ora King Salmon Tartar
Superyacht Chef Abigail Pawlik’s Ora King Salmon Tartar
Abigail Pawlik

Laura Shaughnessy is the former managing editor at Dockwalk. 

Chef Abigail Pawlik

I’m a largely self-trained chef. I grew up in Sag Harbor, New York, where I met lots of crew who tried to recruit me to yachting for years. Finally, after five years in software sales, my company was restructuring and I decided to start a small catering business and cook full time. I came to Palm Beach, Florida, to work for one of my clients. I opted to take my yachting certifications while I was in town so I could subsidize my business when things got slow in The Hamptons in the wintertime. I fell in love with chasing the sun, decided to transition to yachting, and moved to Lauderdale.

As a chef, I learned by never saying no or being intimidated by a request. Where there is a will, there is a way, and if I am the only chef there, and someone wants something, I guess I better figure it out. I have a good understanding of food and flavor profiles, so I have yet to find a meal or a food I can’t make.

I thrive in high-speed environments and do best when I’m challenged. I LOVE charters because it’s always different and people want the experience of a lifetime — and the food is a huge part in delivering that.

Being away from loved ones is the most difficult part of the job. I joined yachting as a single person with not many attachments; three years into joining, I picked up a ready-made family. I am very fortunate that my boyfriend and his kids love what I do. They’re so amazed by it that they get excited for me. It makes the time at home that much more special and my job that much more amazing and satisfying.

Steak and Caviar
Abigail Pawlik

I love all kinds of fusion and would describe that as my cooking style. I do a ton of fusion cuisine; I closely studied the more traditional French techniques and flavors. I love Indian, Asian, Thai, Latin, Peruvian, Moroccan, Ethiopian, etc. I love all curry, soups, stews, and things like that — I have fun mixing and smelling as I go. A constant comfort food for me is anything spicy and super bold. Since not everyone loves that, I find ways to do some fun fusion-style food. And that’s where doing a traditional French lentil with braised chard and tandoori style veal chop is the kind of stuff you will see from me a lot.

A fun eater is my ideal guest — even if they have dietary restrictions or dislikes. If a guest likes good food and tells me their limits, likes, and dislikes, I want to make them their ideal, perfect meal. I have this knack where EVERY time guests sit down to a meal, someone at the table says I managed to make their favorite meal in the world — even though I don’t know them yet. I feel a little like Juliette Binoche in the movie Chocolat and how she can always guess people’s favorite chocolate.

Abigail Pawlik

Someone once brought me a piece of salmon from a four-hour car ride (I had fresh salmon in the galley) with the tops scraped off and said, “Can you have the chef season and cook this?” It was mildly offensive.

Check out Abigail’s website and follow her on Instagram @Nauti_Girl_Cookery.

This column is taken from the February 2021 issue of Dockwalk.


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