“It’s all about the mise en place. No storm can keep you from serving delicious food when your prep is in order.”

Get your galley ready for a crossing

Many superyachts are gearing up to leave the Mediterranean in search for better weather. While writing this article I’m employed as a delivery chef, and we are also getting ready to cross the big blue pond.
I have nine Atlantic crossings under my belt and I enjoyed them all. It’s a good time to experiment with new recipes and catch up on the TV shows and movies everybody is raving about. But how do you prepare for a long crossing? How many provisions do you get? Here are some useful tricks I’ve learned over the years.

How many provisions do you get?

Always make a crew menu and calculate how much of each ingredient is needed per meal. It’s simple math, but a good way to stay within budget and minimize waste. Make sure to provision for an extra couple of days. If something goes wrong you might stay longer at sea than planned.
I like to serve my crew a lot of different cuisines and alternate them, so they never get tired of eating the same dishes. Crew favorites are often simple, healthy comfort foods.
Always make sure to put a few healthy options on the table, and occasionally spoil them with a decadent desert. The only complaints I get, is that they are getting too fat! The word “feeder” is thrown at me a few times! 

Bad weather, good food!

Rule number one in any kitchen or galley is to get your mise en place sorted! It’s all about the mise en place. A good chef has his prep under control and plans a few days ahead. It makes your life so much easier when done right. No storm can keep you from serving delicious food when your prep is in order!

At times during previous crossings, it got pretty rough with strong winds and swell. You don’t want to spend too much time in the galley then. Hanging over boiling pots and pans, or trying to brunoise some veggies when the wind is blowing 25 knots is no fun. Always prepare a few meals that are freezer proof. I have a freezer with lasagne, curries, pasta sauces, and hearty stews almost ready to go (Choose the right recipes, preferably ones that are easy to re-heat). Cook some pasta, rice, potatoes, a nice salad or an easy soup to accompany, and voila! Dinner is ready! Your crew will be amazed by the meals you produce under the rough conditions.

Please, engineers, build me a scale on a gyroscope!

Are there any engineers out there who can build me a kitchen scale that works while under way? I will pay you good money for that! Weighing your recipes underway is pain. It just can’t be done right and it’s frustrating as fuck. I still want to be able to bake cakes, bread or delicious deserts during the crossing. So how to cope without a kitchen scale?
Measuring by volume is an option. But that is soo American. Personally, I can’t work like that. It feels wrong and it’s not exact. I’ve found a much better way…

My solution is to mise en place all the baked goods! Plan accordingly and know how many loaves you’ll need or what kind of cakes you want to cook.
Then just weigh ingredients before departure! It´s so easy! Save yourself the frustration, plan and prep all those recipes that need accuracy.
This crossing we have a few birthdays. All the (dry) ingredients for the birthday cakes are weighed and stored in Ziploc bags. All done and dusted! Ready to mix when the birthday dates arrive. I’ve also prepped the bread mix and other exact recipes. It just so easy if you keep my first kitchen rule in mind!

Where on earth do I store all this stuff?!

I’ve had this thought many, many times. It doesn’t matter how large the boat is, storage space is always an issue. Provisioning for a week is already difficult enough to store, but try stuffing double or triple the amount of goods in your stores and fridges. I have some simple tricks that will help you store all that food away.

Invest in a vacuum packer! These machines are well worth their money and a must have on any boat. It saves so much room if you vac pack all the meat you just bought, and it will stay fresh much longer too. Do you have soup and sauces ready? Throw it in a vac bag and suck all the air out of it. The room you save on plastic containers is enormous, and the vac bags are just as easy to store.
When buying a vacuum pack machine, start thinking of a water bath circulator too. Sous vide cooking is an awesome technique, but that’s a whole other story.

Recycle all the plastic and carton packages before you put stuff in your dry store. Buy resealable containers for rice and pasta etc. It saves a lot of space, and you don’t want to bring all that garbage to the other side of the ocean anyway.

Bake your own bread. Crew loves freshly baked bread. A bag of flour is easy to store (think vac bags or containers again), and the quality of homemade bread is so much better. You don’t have to store disgusting industrial sandwich bread or fill you freezers up with bake-off products. I bake my bread and dough by hand. But alternatively, bread baking machines are inexpensive and easy to use.

Experiment and use the crew as happy guinea pigs!

Whenever I get the chance, I like to dine at Michelin-star restaurants or eat fantastic street food. I try to keep up with the latest food trends. In my downtime I read cooking books and other blogs. This way my mind gets filled with inspiration for new recipes and ideas. I always challenge myself to re-create street food or high-end Michelin star dishes. It’s a lot of fun, and to me one of the best aspects of the chef trade. I never stop learning and the outlet for my creativity is endless.

Crossings are the perfect time to experiment, the crew is always willing to act as my guineapig! Nowadays the internet is full of pictures of shiny cakes and pastries made by professional pastry chefs. My latest experiment was a Chocolate mirror cake. As it turns out, it’s easier than I thought and I will certainly use this technique again!

What to do in your downtime

To me a crossing never gets weary, I can always find stuff to do. Work in the galley is never really done: there is always something to cook or clean. After my regular duties of cooking and watch keeping, I always wind down and relax a bit more than usual. When we arrive, hectic life as yachtie kicks off again, so I try to enjoy this quiet time as much as possible. I’ll do some exercise, read loads and loads of books, hide in my cabin and catch up on the latest episodes of Game of Thrones and movies I haven’t seen. Probably my favorite thing to do is star gazing on a clear night! There are just so many stars you’d only get to see while on the ocean or in remote parts of the world. So enjoy it, it’s amazing!

I hope this article makes your life a little easier and you’ve enjoyed reading it. Have a fun crossing, be safe and see you on the other side!

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