Q&A with Freelance Chef Grace Dvornik

1 June 2020 By Staff Report
Yacht Chef Grace Dvornik's Tomato Dish

I started my career as a yacht chef after falling in love with sailing during my three seasons working as a deckhand/mate on charter sailing vessels. My passion for cooking and adventure combined with my sailing experience led to pursuing a career as a chef in the yachting industry.

Since starting my career as a yacht chef, I have completed several intensive programs. Whether it’s taking a course, watching a documentary, or consulting with other chefs, I believe continuing education is so important as there is always something new to learn.

The best part of working as a freelance chef is having the privilege to cook in incredible places for a wide array of clientele that I likely would not experience if I had a permanent position.

The most difficult part of being a freelance chef is figuring out the quirks of a new galley. There have been some circumstances where I’ve arrived to find the galley in disarray, the stove top or oven is broken, a lack of equipment, etc. I’ve learned that coming prepared with a provisioning list, menu plan, solid recipes, and bringing some of my own tools helps pave the way for a successful contract.

Charcuterie Dish

I describe my culinary style as “upscale, down-home cooking.” Whether I’m drawing inspiration from an old family recipe or recreating a client’s favorite meal, I like my food to bring a nostalgic feeling and tell a story, while still providing a high-end dining experience. Recently, I overheard a guest talking about his favorite hometown diner and what he orders each time he visits. I did some research and was able to recreate his favorite meal as a surprise the next day. He was absolutely thrilled, and his reaction reminded me why I love my job.

My ideal guest is someone who appreciates small details and has a love for food with an unrestricted diet. I once worked for a yacht owner who was thrilled to try anything I made and appreciated garnishes, presentation, and creativity.

The strangest request I have ever received was from a Middle Eastern prince and princess I had as charter guests. The prince requested a sheep be brought to the yacht, slaughtered in front of him, butchered on board, and cooked for dinner. Fortunately, we did not procure a live animal due to a miscommunication with a local farmer, but the sheep arrived in five pieces in an industrial-size garbage bag. Not only did I butcher it myself with a hacksaw, I dissected the innards at the prince’s request and served the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver.

Check out Grace’s website and follow her on Instagram @GraceDvornik.

This column is taken from the June 2020 issue of Dockwalk.


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