Exumas: Part 2

The owner and his wife provided much appreciation and praise for my cooking. She especially loved how flavorful my food was but also how light everything was by not bathing in heavy sauces. I’ll chalk that up as a win! That and the fact that they insisted I go out on their daily excursions with them once all my prep work was done!
They seemed to truly have an interest in me seeing these beautiful cays and waters! I’m pretty sure that’s not normal to have the guests urging you to go snorkeling, swimming with piggies, jet skiing, etc. I soaked up every minute! Out of all the activities I was able to enjoy while working was Thunderball Grotto, where two James Bond movies have been filmed, and snorkeling off Norman’s Cay, where an old drug plane had crashed just before reaching the almost 5,000 foot long air strip. I’m sure the crew enjoyed me snorkeling that as well seeing as I was continuously swimming in circles doing perimeter checks for hammerheads that happen to breed in the lagoon directly south of the site of the plane crash! I also did love Rachel’s Bubble Bath until the ocean wrapped me in one of her ferocious waves and spit me out into coral. (Let’s just say if you ever get a scraped by coral, do not take it lightly! It is bacteria ridden and I’ll be going home with a nasty infection.)
 
 
I know what you’re thinking right about now. Am I reading about a travel blog or a personal chef blog about someone who is supposed to be working on a yacht?! Well, the phrase work hard play hard is the epitome of yacht crew life! So, back to the galley for me where I’m whipping up stone crab Benedicts with handmade hollandaise for brunch. 
Then for dinner, the menu was as follows: Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup for a starter; papaya granita intermezzo; herb encrusted rack of lamb and a Boston Creme Pie for dessert (Captain’s choice as it was her birthday!)

Exumas: Part 1

We pulled into the Staniel Cay marina after the sun had set, you know, since we had to make a pit stop to go buy a chest freezer. Waking up that next morning, I saw my first glimpse of some of the most gorgeous waters I’d ever laid eyes on! That and Nurse Sharks, which they say are friendly and you can swim with them. However, days later I saw them being fed hot dogs near another cay and the were quick to lunge themselves on top of one another with a wide open chomp splashing back down into the clear electric blue water.

The second group of guests arrived that morning. These guests happened to be the owner and wife of the yacht. A tinge of nerves came over me in preparation of their arrival. Of course, I wanted these people to like me and the food I would be preparing over the next 10 days. Those nerves quickly faded away just as the ocean goes to low tide. They greeted me with a hug and smiling faces.

Earlier that day, we had approached some locals to go out spear fishing for spiny lobster and either grouper, tuna, wahoo or snapper. They came back about an hour after the owners climbed on board. They were not empty handed. They pulled out 5 of the largest live lobsters I’ve ever seen! (Yes, I m from Colorado so this might not have much validation!) But, see for yourself!

   

 

Since the larger lobster tails tend to be more tough, I prepared the smaller tails for the guests and reserved the larger ones for the crew and myself.

 

My previous dinner plans for that first evening quickly got put on the back burner and lobster tails for dinner it was.

Of course after their stone crab claw with mustard sauce starter that is! You know you have hit the yacht crew jackpot when your Captain offers to crack the claws for you!

 

 

 

To show you just how large some of these local (and amazingly delectable) crustaceans can be, below is one of the claws in comparison to my hand!

Yep, the food and life as a chef on a yacht is oh so sweet!

Yacht Chef Odds and Ends

I have decided that I am officially adding “Traveling Chef for Hire” to my resume! Anyone need a personal chef for their vacation in Hawaii😉  I’m your gal!


I received one of the greatest compliments from one of the guests a few days ago, which made all this hard work worth it! (Well, that and the fact that I am cooking in the most beautiful place!) This guest told me that she puts me up there with the yacht’s former full time chef who now happens to chef for Mitt Romney on his yacht. What a humbling compliment! Not sure what dishes she loved the most. We already know it wasn’t their welcome dinner seeing as they have no recollection of that evening!

But maybe it was the shrimp two ways. Citrus Shrimp in an Avocado over Dressed Greens and Asian Shrimp Cakes?!  Or possibly…

Marinated Steak with Herb Butter over a Mojo Sauce and Roasted Potatoes and Veggies?!

I realize these pictures (mostly the scenery pictures) don’t do it justice. They never do! But take it from me, this continues to be one of the greatest experiences of my life! And, I’m a firm believer if something doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!

Well, were off to Staniel Cay now.  Google this place immediately if you’re not familiar! Just as soon as the compressor in the freezer is done being installed. Yes, the same freezer is still down. A guy came yesterday to install a new compressor and I kid you not, he showed up with just his flip flops! Not a single tool! Oh Island life! Talk to you all soon(ish) I’m losing wifi for the foreseeable future.

Just Breathe

After having been here one full week so far, I finally feel like I got my groove! Oh, but wait! The freezer broke with all of the fish, other proteins and odds and ends that I had provisioned! We caught it in time for the food not to defrost and be spoiled but fixing it has proved to be an endeavor! The compressor broke. Luckily, that part was found and could be overnighted to Ft. Lauderdale!! Awesome! Right? Well… it was to arrive by 10am where someone who was hired by the captain to pick it up and fly it down to Harbour Island to us. Of course, it didn’t arrive on time and the guy missed his flight to Harbour Island. There are no evening flights into this airport. New flight booked for him tomorrow afternoon. And we still need to find someone that can install the compressor. Did I mention that we were supposed to leave first thing in the morning for Staniel Cay where we were picking up the next guests, who happen to be the owners of the yacht!

Aside from lovely mishaps such as that, I am working on a yacht in the Bahamas! Life is good and funny sometimes! There is nothing I can do about the freezer so, for now, I am just reminding myself to breathe and look at this amazing view!

Breaking the Ice

I have to say that I feel incredibly thankful to have an amazing crew to work with! These people are seriously awesome! Of course, they live with each other day in and day out so they are quite close. What better way to break the ice than to do a little Saved By The Bell style aerobic circuit training in the mornings after a beach run?! (I took a video of this but unfortunately its too large to upload!) It’s also possible that I did the worm at the captain’s, Elizabeth, birthday celebration!

And, the only way I know how to break the ice with the guests is serve them up some delicious food. They arrived on the yacht to a champagne toast and a lovely charcuterie board while they settled in for the week. As you know, I’ve been doing a lot of planning so I thought I would wow them on the first night with a pistachio crusted red snapper, pineapple salsa and herbed quinoa salad for the first dinner followed by pineapples flambé, toasted coconut ice cream and fresh chocolate chip walnut cookies for dessert. While they sang praises about the food that evening, they also questioned numerous times if they ate dinner! Did I mention they had been drinking since 3 am?! Regardless of their state of mind, they were gracious and I could even serve that same meal for lunch one day and no one would notice😉

To my surprise, the ladies woke up quite early the next morning! While the men slept in, I snuck out for my morning beach run. Breakfast was a caramelized onion, bacon, Spinach and gruyere frittata! Sorry, no pictures as it was devoured within minutes! had to soak up that inevitable hangover they must’ve had from blacking out before dinner!

Good Practice for the Next Trip

While I was getting ready, or provisioning, for the first group of guests it was a bit of trial and error. I’m told that you typically go to the store one time to provision no matter the length of trip. I’ve been three times so far between Bob’s and the Piggly Wiggly! And going back today (day 2 of trip one)! To be fair, I’ve been checking out the goods at each place to see what’s available and what creative juices start flowing in my head. And, this is not the US chain store Piggly Wiggly! This one is, well, let’s just say quaint!

But, as you can tell, I had no trouble filling up the golf cart with goodies!

 

I suppose this is all good practice for the next trip where I won’t be within 100 miles to a grocery store during a 10 day trip! Luckily for me, we can fly groceries in to wherever we may be to restock on fresh produce. Yes, that is a real thing!

I guess I should also mention why the provisioning has proved extra tricky. I’m cooking 4 meals plus dessert for 8 people every day right now. That’s a lot of planning, food and cooking! But look at my “office” view for the time being! No complaints here:)

That’s right, that means the first group of guests are on board right now. I’ll catch you up as I have more free time!

Provisioning Time

So, things are getting interesting around here! I spent a lot of time menu planning prior to arriving only to get here and visit the local island grocery stores where most of the ingredients simply do not exist on this tiny island! Quick, think back to culinary school days when we were given a secret ingredient and two hours to come up with and prepare a main dish and dessert! Only this time a lot more is on the line! But in the words of Bob Marley, “everything’s gonna be alright!”

Speaking of Bob, I visited Captain Bob’s store for my first provisioning trip. The amazing stewardess, Amanda, chose to take me there first as it is “the largest grocery store on the island.” The entire store is just a modest room filled with an assortment of dry goods (some of which is only carried in high end specialty stores in Colorado and some that could be found in the smallest of 7-11s), about 6 varieties of frozen seafood, frozen mystery meat and ‘fresh’ produce.  

Fresh is a relative term here on Harbour Island as they get one shipment of fresh food per week and even that was likely delivered to a larger island sometime before then. But if you ask the gentleman there if he has fresh herbs or certain items, he will go in the back, which very well could be as large as the store itself, and says he has anything you need! Phew! A pleasant surprise to see fresh basil, parsley and cilantro! Oh, and they also seemed to carry a very high caliber of fine cheeses. Don’t mind if I do! I will, however, source the fresh fish from a local fisherman though!

Come back to hear about my second shopping trip at… Piggly Wiggly!

Denver and Vail Personal Chef to Private Yacht Chef

You guys!

IMG_0003This is “walking home” on the dock for the week. One of those large yachts over there is where I will be cooking for the next three weeks. Follow along to see more pictures of the digs.

 

Day 1 was kind of a whirlwind with an overnight flight, two layovers and then landing at the most adorable small airport where I was picked up by the kindest gentleman. He drove me down to the dock where one of my new crew mates was waiting for me with the tender to take me to the smaller island with the (much) larger boat. Once arriving on the yacht, I met the other crew members who were extremely welcoming and then they showed me to my sleeping quarters (about the size of a mummy sleeping bag!) So, enough on that. We then scooted off on the golf cart to explore the island and get a bite to eat (one of the few meals I won’t be responsible for cooking!) The “grocery stores” that I will be provisioning at are more of a small island convenience store than anything resembling a US grocery store. More on that later as I start provisioning for the first group of guests this afternoon!

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Stay tuned for the adventures of chef life on a private yacht where I exchange my snow boots, negative degree weather and hopefully really pale winter skin for turquoise waters, coral sands and a galley kitchen!