They're inescapable in South Florida: big, white-hulled yachts docked up and down the Intracoastal Waterway. This time of year it's even worse. For four days, starting today, the waters of Fort Lauderdale will be overtaken with yachts during the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
Everyone sees these magnificent vessels from afar, but only those who work onboard really understand what happens inside. We chatted with a few of the paid hands to find out five secrets of a yacht chef. Here are their top five tricks for doing the job.
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5. Buy in Portions
Cooking on a yacht is a completely different beast than running a kitchen on land. Besides the obvious lack of space and availability of ingredients, the one thing yacht chefs always seem to be running short of: time. No, they are not pumping out meals by the hundred as would be expected in your restaurant kitchen. But with minimal staff -- one, maybe two chefs -- they are expected to turn out top-notch meals for hungry crew and the ultra demanding high-end guests. How do they make this happen? Portion control. Luckily, South Florida businesses are not unaware of the needs and time constraints of yacht chefs. All provisioning companies and many grocery stores -- Whole Foods has a yacht division -- cater to the needs of chefs by offering any and every kind of meat individually packaged, portion-controlled, and cryovaced. Yes, these chefs probably can butcher meat with the rest of them. But, honestly, on a yacht, who has the time for that?
4. You're Probably Eating Ready-Made Ingredients
They might deny it, but, on occasion, every yacht chef has done this: buy ready-made ingredients. Maybe some bread, garnishes, or frozen meat pies. Between working 16-hour days alone or maybe with one other person in the kitchen, catering to a grumpy, homesick crew, and smiling and appeasing demanding guests, sometimes a tired yacht chef just needs a break. This could come in form of a frozen croissant, bottled balsamic glaze, or the specialty-store-purchased pot pie. No one ever notices the difference.