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.
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.
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!