Cooking while tied to a dock is no big deal, but these heroes of the galley are expected to create wonderful meals all day, every day, regardless of sea conditions. When guests pay tens of thousands of dollars for a week’s charter, they expect the chef to produce even if they themselves take one look at the day’s culinary delights and sprint for the rail.
Having heaped kudos on the heads of the wizards of the charter yacht galleys, it’s time to praise the less culinary blessed … the cooks who brave the heaving cabin of a small yacht at sea in order to put together wonderful, if sometimes weird, meals. While sailing, I have seen and eaten some interesting creations that perhaps a landsman might have a problem swallowing never mind digesting.
I am incredibly lucky in that my wife is an excellent cook and she has a fairly strong stomach, so when we are sailing it is rare we miss a meal at sea. Charter chefs have an advantage; they make fancy food that takes days to source and requires a crew of ten to carry back to the dock. The test comes when you have no refrigeration and your stores consist of dried beans, rusty cans of tomatoes, damp curry powder and Spam.
On a particularly nasty passage, my wife braved the galley to make a cottage pie using instant mash potato, tinned corned beef and a few ingredients she found rattling and rotting in our depleted food locker. The pie was in the oven when the boat fell off a particularly mean wave. The resulting crash threw open the oven door and hurled the pie across the cabin. With the steaming mess strewn across the grungy oil and sea spattered floor, my wife shoveled it up and on to the plates. Staggering from side to side, she then hauled herself into the cockpit and presented me with one of the best meals I have ever had at sea.