There are many global yachting destinations that make a chef’s life a whole lot easier. Colourful markets with an abundance of fruit and veg, bursting with flavour; take your pick of avocados ripe and ready for today, tomorrow or the next day. Turn a street corner and you’ll stumble across a premium quality butcher, a cheesemonger, an Asian supermarket, and a French bakery. If in doubt, post on a Facebook forum, and you’ll get numerous replies to help you out. You can pretty much guarantee you’ll find whatever it is you’re looking for.
But more and more yachts are travelling to far-fetched places, sailing into blissfully unchartered waters, getting away from crowded Mediterranean anchorages, travelling further afield to explore, adventure and discover, all while finding privacy, solitude and seclusion in remote destinations.
Perhaps you’re employed on one of these adventure-seeking boats, and you’ve spent the past couple of weeks, maybe more (it felt like a lifetime), on a windy and turbulent delivery to a remote, postcard-worthy anchorage, so beautiful you have forgotten all about the sleep deprivation and mild seasickness. The boat’s still in delivery mode, you can’t remember where you stowed the toaster, the deckies are hungry, the girls want their early-morning green smoothies, and you just want to keep the captain happy and keep your job. You’re the chef, and everyone’s hungry eyes are looking at you.
Suddenly, you’re far away from your former foodie oasis and you’ve lost internet connection to your trusty online support network. So here’s a few tips to guide you in how to approach provisioning remotely:
Do your research
Before you set off, set out the course for the boat’s upcoming trip with your captain. Identify key destinations and stops during your trip, as these will most likely be your provisioning opportunities. Speak to an agent and find out where the local supermarkets and shops are, if any, and learn of the seasonal produce. Many remote islands get weekly deliveries from the mainland either by air or by boat, and if you’re charming enough, you just might be able to put an order in.
Talk to the locals
Once your feet hit dry land, strike up a conversation with anybody who you cross paths with and ask questions about where they source their food. If you can mutter a few words of the local lingo, you may find yourself donning a machete and foraging with locals, which is not only an incredible experience itself, but you’ll be a hero when the tender pulls up on the aft deck full of coconuts from someone’s back yard. Duck into a local restaurant – it’s amazing what chef’s have in their freezers. Find out if there’s a local market, be early, don’t get your hopes up, but expect a limited supply of good quality local ingredients and a lot of dry stores to challenge your culinary imagination.
With whatever ingredient you’ve fortuitously found, learn how to use it in your cooking in many different ways – pickle it, dry it, pan-fry it, blend it, eat it raw, mix it with coconut milk… Tackle the issue of limited fresh produce by ensuring you have all the necessary fishing gear onboard and identify the crew’s resident fisherman in order to reel in that winning catch of the day to impress your guests and fellow crewmates. Dig deep into those bilges, vac pack and freeze before you leave!