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
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.