Chef, 120-foot motoryacht Natalia
Date interviewed: May 2011
That was a delicious luncheon that you just prepared. I’ve never had twice-cooked pork belly with macerated prunes. I can’t believe I not only liked it, but absolutely loved it.
Today’s lunch was a crowd-pleaser. The main course was chicken because I believe that when it’s people you don’t know onboard, chicken is the way to go. But I also wanted to show that I can do different things, too, like the pork bellies and frozen tiramisu with nougat crumble. I sometimes do tasting menus of up to six courses for the charter guests. I can do vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free—really nothing is a problem.
That’s quite a hospitable attitude.
Well, I studied hospitality. I’m from New South Wales, Australia, and I wanted to go into restaurant management or become a chef. After school, I moved to Tasmania and worked for an Italian chef who really inspired me. I spent about six years at an Italian restaurant there. Then I went to Melbourne and worked for a while in a contemporary restaurant. I liked the cooking and forgot about management, and decided to remain a chef.
How did you end up working on yachts?
I had friends who worked on boats, so I went to Antibes, France, and did what they suggested. I walked along the docks, gave my credentials to crew-placement agencies, and about two months later, I ended up on this boat, the 120-foot Palmer Johnson motoryacht Natalia. She’s my first boat ever, and I’ve been here for three seasons now. I was quite lucky. She’s a great boat, and the crew is all Australian, so we got on well from the start.
What are some of your specialties, other than the delicacies you prepared today (that's the pork bellies in the photo at right)?
I’ve been getting into Middle Eastern cuisine lately. It try it out on the crew first. I’m definitely all about fusion. I like to try new things.
I do a really good bomb Alaska, too. That’s brioche with a layer of strawberry sorbet and a layer of white chocolate puree, all covered in beet-root meringue. It’s the most amazing color, and it’s delicious, too.
And I should mention that the yacht’s owner has a 2-year-old child, so I can cook for the kids, too. Really, I can work it out no matter what the guests like to eat.
Are you enjoying chartering? Or do you plan to return to restaurants ashore?
Oh no, I like charter a lot. We meet lots of different people with lots of different tastes, so I get to cook lots of different things. We get a lot of families, many people who have earned their wealth, and they appreciate what we do. It’s fantastic.
Natalia is part of the charter fleet at International Yacht Collection She takes six or eight guests with five crew at a lowest weekly base rate of about $130,000. Any reputable charter broker can tell you more or help you book a week onboard.