Chef, 135-foot motoryacht Blind Date
Date interviewed: December 2007
How did you realize you wanted to become a chef?
Food is in my family. My dad is a fisherman from Mexico, and he used to cook on boats including Calypso with Jacques Cousteau.
We lived in Bozeman, Montana, and growing up there, I realized that you can do a few things as a part-time job. You can bag groceries, pump gas, or do dishes at a ranch. So I filled out an application at a ranch called Chico Hot Springs, and I got hired as a prep cook. I was 15.
What additional training did you undergo to become a chef?
After high school, I went to culinary school in Seattle. I worked at Saitos, a Japanese café. I convinced them to make me an intern. While I was there, the captain of a 107-foot yacht called Dorothea came to my school to do interviews for a chef. Eight months later, I took the job onboard the boat in San Diego.
That was the first and last time I made a menu before a trip. I learned fast that you can’t always get the ingredients you want. I learned to provision anywhere.
Why did you decide to stay onboard yachts?
I stayed with Dorothea for two and a half years. It was adventure. We moved from British Columbia to Costa Rica every six months, spearfishing for snapper, surfing in remote places, playing very hard when the owner wasn’t onboard.
I left in that boat in 2003 and worked onboard private yachts, including four that did transatlantic crossings. I was always looking for that next great boat.
When did you join Blind Date’s crew?
I came here in November 2006. I took this job as a career choice. Yachting has changed. It’s not about backpackers anymore. It’s about serious qualifications.
What do you think makes you different as a chef?
I don’t ever want my owners or guests to have to eat off the boat because my food is getting old. Boating is hip. It’s fresh. I take creativity very seriously.
How do you determine what meals you will prepare for charter guests?
The preference sheets are helpful, but what’s important to me is going out and making sure the owners and the guests see me. The best way forward is to get to know them a little.
Are you into water sports or top hats? What do you want from me? I want to know what you like, what you’re allergic to, what you don’t eat, and how you eat—big, little, early, late, that sort of thing.
What are some of your specialty dishes?
I have a very hard time saying I have specialties. I’m a hunter-gatherer. I skin my own venison. So there’s that part of me. There’s the part of me that worked in a Japanese restaurant. There’s the part of me that’s traveled. There’s the part of me that’s of Mexican heritage. There’s the part of me that’s Jewish on my mother’s side.
So I like to ask people what they like, and then use my influences to give it to them. I love doing all of it. I love food.
I’ve gone through three Joy of Cooking books already. I love to learn. I ask taxi drivers what their wives make that they love. And they know all the best spots, especially the back-corner delis.
What else should CharterWave readers know about you and Blind Date?
Our owners and guests come for the Blind Date experience. We’re a little more personal. We’re not the biggest this or the fastest that, but our crew works really hard, and we want to be here. We love what we do.
We have seven days that these people may never do again, so we do it to the best of our ability and make it memorable.
I’m very competitive within myself. I’m trying to milk the pulp out of this life. I just love it.
The 135-foot motoryacht Blind Date is part of the fleet at Peter Insull’s. She takes eight guests with seven crew at a weekly base rate of $75,000, or about $11,700 per person with typical 25-percent expenses factored in. Contact any reputable charter broker to learn more.