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Meet amazing chef Jeanri van der Watt!

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Welcome to our first chef series of 2020! I had a great time chatting with chef Jeanri van der Watt recently about her experience working as a chef in the luxury yacht industry and how she caught the travel bug. 

Chef Jeanri smiling in a clean yacht galley

When did you become a yacht chef?

I always wanted to see and explore more of the world, and yachting seemed like the best way to do that. So after my 3 years at chef school and one year of a Photography diploma, I was young and eager! What was meant to be a gap year, turned into a lifestyle and a career that hooks you and it’s hard to let go. 

How do you prepare for upcoming charters?

I am a doomsday prepper; I believe having more is always better. I will always have a back up of everything in stock as I like to be prepared for anything guests could ask of me. 

I work on a very busy family private yacht, so I keep the galley stocked at all times. I believe ‘fresh is best’ and always try to go to town in the mornings to find local ingredients from the markets. 

a display of food, big bowl of fresh spaghetti and barbecue corn and bread and salad

Have you had any struggles securing items onboard whilst at sea?

Anywhere on anchor for a long period of time, far away from provisioning makes me feel a bit nervous. The yacht I work on, as a sole chef, does not have walk-in freezers and fridges and that makes it a bit difficult. For me the hardest is to use provisioners, as they never completely get the shopping list correct; I rather prefer picking my own products and ingredients as I feel confident I have everything I need. 

Do you have a favourite go-to dish for guests that you know will wow everyone and anyone?

Salt baked fish!!! Guests just love it and request it on a weekly basis and it’s so simple to make, but still, one of the most delicious dishes for me personally to make and eat.

Do you have a favourite corner of the globe for the foodies out there looking for amazing/unique culinary experiences?

That’s a difficult one as I truly enjoy every country I go to as each has its own different and unique cuisines…but if I have to pick, Japan truly blew my socks off. Anything Asian or anywhere in Asia normally grabs my attention.

If you weren’t working as a yacht chef, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career? 

Event planning as it’s still hospitality: you can still be creative, work within a team and interact with people.

Check out Jeanri on Instagram!

Chef Jeanri in chef jacket smiling down while holding large fish onboard a yacht

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