About nine years ago, I was inspired by some school friends who had joined the yachting industry and so I decided to take my cooking skills overseas. I started off as a stewardess to get a feel for how things worked on board. From there, I worked my way into the galley as crew chef and later sole chef, mostly on sailing boats.
I’m a total travel addict and love the places this industry can show you. Not only am I doing what I love in beautiful places, but the friendships and extended family I’ve gained along the way have made it such an incredible experience.
I did a year at culinary school in South Africa and worked in a few restaurants after that before joining yachts, from five-star hotel restaurant to Artisan Bakery and Cafe. I think the real training came when I had to learn to handle an entire galley on my own and become a one-man band on a yacht. As a sole chef, you are always learning on the go. I also love to travel and draw inspiration from cuisines around the world, and I try to join some local cooking classes if I can.
The most difficult part of the job is keeping yourself motivated and inspired in the galley when you’re working alone can be really challenging. Also, cooking under sail in rough seas having to endure seasickness is my ultimate hell!
I’ve learned that time management is your best friend. When things get tight, always have a few quick fixes and solid recipes up your sleeve. In a work environment where plans change at the drop of a hat and guest demands can be sporadic, organization and good prep work is key.
I’m all about fresh, healthy food, and unaltered ingredients — dishes made with love. For me, cooking is about bringing comfort and nostalgia to my guests and crew.
At the top of my favorite cuisine would be Mediterranean — so many delicious combinations with simple, quality ingredients. Mediterranean markets are my vice! Close second is Thai food with all the fresh and energizing flavors — I could eat it every day.
My favorite dish to cook? HA! My worst question! It’s impossible to choose one single dish. When I am developing a menu and creating new dishes, I always keep in mind balancing flavor, contrasting texture, and cooking with color.
My favorite cuisine would be Mediterranean — so many delicious combinations with simple, quality ingredients. Mediterranean markets are my vice! Close second is Thai food with all the fresh and energizing flavors — I could eat it every day.
My ideal guest is someone who likes healthy food and adventurous flavors. Someone who will entrust the menu to me and my inspirations dujour, and for the love of God — NO “allergies”!
I do always seem to come across guests with insane dietary restrictions, to the point where I think to myself, “Well what can you eat then?” But such is the nature of the beast and as a personal chef, it’s all part of the learning curve and I do my best to accommodate their wishes and make people happy. Therein lies the reward.
Follow Lisa on Instagram @Chef_in_Transit.
This column is taken from the November 2020 issue of Dockwalk.