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!

IMG_0006

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!

How to Find a Personal Chef in Vail or Denver

personal-chef-1

With so many services available via the internet these days, it’s easy to forget that some services simply cannot be emulated by a robot.  A personal chef provides a very intimate and personable experience in your own home. When looking for someone who you will be inviting into your home, you’ll want to feel an immediate connection with them.  Personal Chefs typically suggest, after the initial email connection, that you have a phone conversation.  You can learn a lot from someone even in just speaking briefly with them.  Are they responsive? Friendly? Available? Willing to customize their service to fit you and your needs or your guests’ allergy constraints?  You’ll also want to make sure that the personal chef cost fits within your budget.  There are an array of chefs and services out there from quick meal prep drop off to high end gourmet dinners.  Even if it isn’t a good fit, likely from talking with the personal chef, he/she can point you in the right direction and refer you to someone who may better suit your needs.

stetson-chopped-salas

Likely, you’re familiar with the phrase ‘you get what you pay for.’  Personal chefs are just that, personal.  Typically, we own our businesses. More often than not, it is a one woman/man show fueled by passion.  Your personal chef should take great pride in providing clients with the highest level of service and sourcing the highest quality ingredients.  Even before a prospective client decides to hire a personal chef, the person on the other end shall have already provided a great level of service.  The personal chef’s name is on the business and they should care about the experience and the food they put on the table.  And, while we cannot always compete with a large catering company on cost, the service will go from bland to extraordinary. ally-prepping-1 After all, you have taken the first step to bringing someone in to create a perfect foodie filled evening for whatever you may be celebrating, even if it’s just because it’s a Tuesday, you’ll want that 5-star service that comes with a personal chef.

In a nutshell, when looking for a personal chef in Vail or Denver, pick up the phone and see if your personalities match.  I’m sure you’ll be able to tell quickly if you want to invite this person into your home.