Just in case you missed out on our delicious podcast with Chef Grace Dvornik earlier this year, I wanted to share a few of the hottest soundbites here for you! And of course the link to the full podcast so you can catch it now!
How did you become a chef onboard luxury yachts?
I became a chef and a yachtie at the same time! I started my career as a deckhand on traditionally rigged tall ships, but had a goal to transition into the yachting industry.
During my first summer season, I was a deckhand/mess cook, meaning I split my time working on deck and assisting the chef in the galley. This gave me a crash course in both sailing and cooking on sailing vessels. That boat also had no electricity and all meals were prepared on a wood-burning stove so it was quite the learning experience and truly incredible to watch my chef in action. While I was strictly a deckhand my second season, I always found myself hanging around the galley, asking the chef questions, observing his techniques, and assisting whenever I had the chance. Looking back, observing these two chefs really set the tone for my career. They are still people I greatly admire and look to for inspiration.
I also grew up learning how to cook from my grandparents and worked in a local bakery while I was land-based when working on a day sailing catamaran, so moving from deck to galley made sense to me. When I decided to make the transition from tall ship sailor to professional yacht crew, I had a variety of unique skills which helped me obtain my first position as the chef on a sailing yacht.
Can you share a bit about your trickiest experiences trying to get supplies onboard?
I have had several freelance trips in the Bahamas where the yacht was either docked on a private island or in a secluded anchorage which made provisioning a full day event. In order to provision, it was roughly a 45 minute tender ride to the nearest island followed by a 15 minute taxi ride to the only grocery store. Once I got to the store, shopping could take a couple hours and the checkout process was pretty lengthy as I often have at least 3-4 completely filled carts. Travel time to and from the store alone could be over two hours, plus the logistics of transporting multiple cartloads of groceries from store to taxi, taxi to tender, and tender to yacht. In those situations, it was crucial to have a comprehensive provisioning list, a contingency plan if needed items were sold out, cooler bags for frozen/refrigerated items, and a plan of action discussed with the captain or crew in case we didn’t have cell service. I’ve made that trip in the rain twice which adds to the difficulty, but definitely makes a great story!