I hope your week is going well! We're just popping in to share our chat with luxury yacht chef Jack Watts. His story is a tad unconventional for how he wound up onboard but very interesting nonetheless! I hope you enjoy hearing from him 🙂
How did you become a chef onboard luxury yachts?
Years ago I had a part time job washing pots at 15 and I idolized my head chef. He seemed so in control in such a chaotic environment. Fire and knives, what’s a young boy not going to like about that! On Saturday afternoons I'd prepare ALL the vegetables for the Sunday lunch, sacks of Swede, potatoes, carrots etc... the first few weeks of this took many hours (I’m sure now to my head chef's frustration!). Dipping in and out of the first-aid box (biscuit tin), I rapidly depleted it of small blue bandaids!
But eventually, I got faster and faster until one day I was presented with chef whites. One of the proudest moments of my life and to be honest, I never really looked back. My career path was set, although not the faintest idea I'd ever be a yacht chef!
How do you prepare for one or two week charter?
Know what you know, and know what you don’t.
As for provisioning I was beat. Voicing my concerns, my chief steward was super helpful as were my newly acquired yacht friends from the harbour. I soon had the best butchers, fish mongers and green grocers in town all given over a couple pints or two. Speak up, make friends and before you know, people will be coming to you for advice!
Can you share a bit about your trickiest experiences trying to get supplies onboard?
I remember when I first moved to France (armed and confident with my GCSE C in French) I set off keenly with my shopping list. After having done zero research, I quickly found myself playing charades in front of a cantankerous and frankly perplexed old Frenchman acting out the words ‘ham hock’. It was not dignified, nor successful. I am happy to say that after plenty of practice, I now have a good relationship with said butcher!
Do you have a favourite go-to dish for guests that you know will wow everyone and anyone?
With taste being so subjective, everyone’s different. I like to talk with my guests about food, restaurants, chefs and the like, this way I can paint a picture on whether they are real foodies or not. If they are and I can source it, spicy steak tartare with cured hens yolk is a rather special starter. Yotam Ottolenghi is a huge influence in my cuisine so cumin grilled aubergines, garlicky homemade labneh, pomegranate seeds and sumac. For dessert, anything chocolate with a miso caramel sauce is usually a winner!
Do you have a favourite corner of the globe for the foodies out there looking for amazing/unique culinary experiences?
You just cant beat street food, so it's South East Asia for me. Malaysia for its enormous night markets and Vietnam for its pho (pronounced pha). I don’t buy into ‘cereal’ for breakfast, so for me, a big bowl of steaming beef broth with fragrant herbs, noodles, bean sprouts, hot chilli peppers and lime is perfect. Oh and the coffee, THE COFFEE!