Cooking on a Yacht: An Insider's Guide | New Times Broward-Palm Beach


Cooking on a Yacht: An Insider's Guide

Chef Sara Ventiera is setting off on a three-week trip to the Bahamas, manning the kitchen on a 91-foot yacht. She will file regular updates from the waters about what it's like to work on a yacht, from pre-trip provisioning to seaplane produce delivery.

It has happened to every South Floridian: You're driving, in a rush, and a drawbridge's lights start flashing. Down goes the traffic arm. You're stuck, waiting for a yacht to pass. Given the current economic climate, you think to yourself, "Damn you, 1 percenters!" I've been there too. The only difference being, I'm on those yachts. I work for the 1 percent. My name is Sara Ventiera, and I'm a yacht cook.

For me, getting into yachting was a smooth transition. Straight out of Cooper City High

School, I secured a job as a server at the Quarterdeck on

Cordova Road. I didn't think much of it at the time, but little did I

know that I was working at the preeminent yachty bar in all of Fort

Lauderdale. Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by what felt like

hundreds of attractive men with accents. That was it. I needed to

travel. I bought myself a ticket to Australia and didn't return for

almost year.

Upon my homecoming, I was faced with the fact that I

was not yet ready to rejoin normal society. I wanted to keep traveling.

Only problem: I was broke. My solution came while visiting my old

colleagues at the Quarterdeck. One of the bar regulars, Capt. Jack,

asked me to meet him the following day for an interview. We met, drank

beers, talked about diving, and shortly after, I began my career as a

stewardess. The cooking came later.

Most of the time, when I try

to explain to people outside of the yachting industry what exactly it is

I do for a living, the first comment I usually hear is, "Oh, that

sounds so glamorous." While I can easily understand their thought

process -- that is essentially my reasoning for stepping into the

industry nearly seven years ago -- it most certainly cannot be further

from the truth. During season, we work 16- to 18-hour days for weeks on

end, catering to our guests' every whim and desire. Often, we can

start the day with a ladies' brunch for 12, complete with Bellinis and

Benedict, and end with a 4 a.m. drunken burrito call for 20. Yes, we get

to see some of the most beautiful places in the world, but we can

consider ourselves lucky if we are able to step off the dock.


consider myself fortunate in many ways. I have always had great owners

(seriously, that's what we call them). My current boss is by far the

best; I've been with him for four and a half years. And quite frankly, there

is a good chance he will be reading this blog; it is, obviously, on the

internet. The trip you are about to see is far from standard in the

yachting industry. If it were the norm, I would have little time for

myself. I certainly would not have time to sit down and write.

Regardless, this is why I am able to do this. For the next few weeks, I

am going to give you an inside view of the ins and outs of cooking on a

boat, down island, in the Bahamas. Stay tuned.