Delivery prep is always an interesting time for yacht chefs. There are the usual questions of how long is the delivery, where are we delivering to and how many crew do I need to feed? Then there are the extra things to consider, when are we going? What is the forecast going to be? Plus for small yachts or sailing yacht chefs am I in the watch rota?
Food on delivery is more important for the crew then at any other time they are onboard. Monotonous watches, fit-full/interrupted sleeping patterns, extremes in weather and being cooped up on the yacht with no external stimulation it is little wonder that meal times are the highlight of the day & snacking seems to be the new Olympic sport!
On cold days or in rough weather they’ll want hot & comforting soups, stews & ‘family’ favorites such as chili con carne for dinner. As the chef you’ll want to cook one pot meals that mean you don’t have to be bounced around in the galley for longer then you have to, handling (& washing up!) multiple pans & utensils all the time trying to keep yourself upright & from potentially getting sea sick.
On hot still days they’ll still want something substantial but will be happier with lighter pasta dishes, or grilled fish with potatoes & salad. As the chef you’ll be managing what fresh supplies you still have available, using the last of your lettuce before it goes soggy & relishing in the fact that you’re not cooking at a 40 degree angle for the first time in 4 days!
With all this to think about planning is the most important job a yacht chef can do pre-delivery. Starting with the menu, not forgetting to think about & plan breakfast & snacks, and adding in a few contingency meals for those unexpected days at sea or storm bound in a deserted bay somewhere. This is followed by the never ending provisioning list broken down into categories such as dry produce, fruit & veg & specialty items. Breaking your list into categories helps you see if you’ve forgotten something important & makes you more efficient when shopping. I remember an interesting delivery where we had to relay milk to another vessel while sailing mid-Atlantic as the chef had forgotten to put it on her list & the captain needed his morning coffee! After the planning stage pre-prep has to be the next most important job, asking your-self what can I prep in advance can save yourself hours of hassle, stress & yes sickness while at sea. If you have the freezer space & you can cook a meal in advance & freeze it DO IT! I can’t begin to add up the times when we’ve been sailing hard & a meal pulled out the freezer & re-heated with some freshly cooked rice or pasta has saved my life. Chopping onions & peeling vegetables while ensuring you don’t cut yourself & everything doesn’t slide all over the place is no fun in rough weather or when sailing hard. All the crew want is a hot & tasty meal. If we’re honest about it, it will taste a lot better having been made when you’re relaxed, the boat stationary & you have the time to invest in cooking something really well rather then in ‘survival’ mode during a rough crossing.
Once you’ve planned & hopefully prepped the ‘rough’ weather meals you can start to think about the little extras that will make for a happy crew! Hot muffins for breakfast, a freshly baked cake for afternoon tea or just someone’s favorite chocolates, crisps or biscuits put into the snack cupboard. These little extras can make a big difference to crew moral on a long delivery & never be too proud to buy ready-made items, to make your life easier or the crew happy. Some of the most well received lunches I’ve served on delivery have been cheeseburgers & fries (supermarket burgers & oven chips)! Weighing out the dry produce (flour, sugar etc.) for muffins & cakes & putting into labeled zip lock bags & freezing weighed out sections of butter also makes going the extra mile for your crew that much easier!
Top Tips for Delivery Prep
- Plan, Plan, Plan!
- Be Thorough. Your menu each day should include breakfast, lunch & dinner plus snacks
- Divide your provisioning list into sections so it’s easier to see if you’ve forgotten something important.
- If you can make it, weigh it or chop it in advance DO IT!
- Be generous with snacks & treats for the crew. A happy crew = a happy boat
By Tricia Hooper. Chef S/Y Aiyana