Cooking on the high seas (or things they don't teach you in culinary school)

photo 3For the past three weeks I've been sailing on the high seas, quite literally. I took a chef job working on a sailboat for some clients and this is not some dinky sailboat that you see trolling around inlets and marinas, this is a boat that people ran to get their cameras and take pictures of as we sailed past. She is 146 feet long, sleeps 9 guests and was home to me and six other crew who took care of them.   It was three weeks of challenges and magic and lots and lots of food and while I'm so glad to add this to my resume, please don't ask me to do it again any time soon.Antibes, France was where I joined the gang, most of whom have been sailing most of their lives.  My suitcase was loaded into the tender (the small rubber motorboat that would be our only lifeline to the shore) and under the sunny skies I thought to myself how lucky am I?  However, once introduced to my miniscule kitchen, assigned my top bunk and given thorough instructions on how to squeegee the wet room after a shower, I drew in a deep breath and had to remind myself it wasn't forever. As soon as I was on the boat I was back on land, on a bike following the Stewardess through the tourist-filled streets in search of long-life milk, some delicious cheeses, and uniform shorts that would fit me. We rode with bags hanging from our handlebars and I thought that perhaps I'd never live to see the trip as we dashed around the cobblestone streets.
photo-77Once the guests were on board things changed.  Crew were only allowed to go up and down between decks by ladder - I felt ungainly, much like one of Degas' bathers, hunched over bruised. My feet started to feel more like hooves and when I woke up in the morning I could feel the rungs of the ladders pushing into my soles. We also had to wear uniforms, the "welcome" whites being particularly unflattering and not kitchen friendly. There were no more hours on deck watching wales and dolphins, instead my kitchen (three steps from my cabin) went into high gear, preparing everything from a plate of olives to a three course meal. photo 3For the next two and a half weeks the days rolled one into the other, just waiting to hear what the whims of our guests were for the day, where we'd go, what I'd be feeding them, how many I'd be feeding.  For two days running I prepared lunch for 10, including some royalty (no pressure there) only to finish the meal and have to figure out what to feed my fellow crew members and then prepare dinner for the guests again.  It was non-stop for several days and I wasn't sure I could do it much more.  In between cooking I was taking the tender to shore and scouring the local shops for fresh fruits, veggies, fish. One day I was so laden with bags that the lady from the butcher shop offered to take me back to the marina on the back of her moped and I've never felt more grateful not to have to walk five blocks.Over the next few days I'll share some of the recipes I created on the fly - I took lots of notes as I laid in my bunk just inches from the ceiling - and tell you more stories about the crazy time I had.  I'm still recovering - had a pedicure today, but my feet still feel numb and my muscles still ache, but I'm getting back into my real life.   Just wanted to give you a little taste of my great adventure and hope all of you are having fantastic summers!  More to come....photo 3