Twelve years ago, I decided to pack up at a restaurant in Australia and backpack around Europe. I bumped into some old friends from home in Antibes that I had worked with on Captain Cook Cruises many moons ago. I completed my STCW in Antibes and that was that. My first job was definitely the hardest to land — it’s not what you know; it’s who you know in this industry.
Having a passion for cooking has helped me garner the skillset I have. Cooking excites me — just a sniff of something new and I’m hooked.
What I love most about my job is making people happy. Cooking is about family, sharing, and having fun. If half the crew haven’t spent one of their tea breaks in the galley to have a laugh and a taste, then the day is not complete. Provisioning with time for a beer is a nice perk too (not that it happens too often, unfortunately).
I would say my style of cooking is that I’m spontaneous and often pull a rabbit out of a hat. I’m an open book when it comes to cooking — it’s kinda like music and depends on the mood.
My favorite cuisine would have to be Asian. I think it’s sexy, vibrant, and refreshing. My favorite thing to cook is a degustation menu, but the dish would have to be a traditional roast with all the trimmings, just like Grandma used to make. Although…opening the fridge and pantry to create something out of nothing is something that keeps the creativity flowing.
One thing I’ve learned on the job is understanding that everyone has their moments and needs their space. It’s all about working together to make each day as enjoyable as you can and not forgetting that less is more. It’s easy to overdo things, as you want it to always be perfect.
The ideal guest is one that lets you have free rein in the galley to impress them and their guests; one that appreciates everything and is honest with their feedback.
The most difficult part of my job is cooking for someone that can never be satisfied. Being away from home can be difficult at times, also.
The strangest request I have ever had was a live goat brought to me in Grenada. The head guest wanted fresh testicles for dinner. I thought to myself, “Bollocks.” I suggested the goat be humanely sacrificed somewhere other than the aft deck and not long after, it came back in two (body) garbage bags.
This column is taken from the January 2021 issue of Dockwalk.