Tight Quarters While Cooking on a Yacht Ends With Visit to the Poop Deck

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Photos by Sara Ventiera
The Poop Deck: Ugly name, beautiful sunset.


Chef Sara Ventiera is on a three-week trip to the Bahamas, manning the kitchen on a 91-foot yacht. She will file regular updates from the waters about what it's like to work on a yacht, from pretrip provisioning to seaplane produce delivery. Click here for previous reports.


This week was the first time in three weeks that I have been able to sleep in. I stretched out in my king-sized bed, a huge difference from my enclosed bunk. Back on the yacht, every time you need to get up to use the head, you feel like a contortionist trying to escape from some sort of capsule. Now I can roll out of bed in a listless stupor and get a cup of coffee without having to speak to anyone. While this may not sound like the epitome of contentment, after three weeks of having no personal space, it is. When you have to be "on" for most of your waking hours for weeks on end, personal space becomes More »

Should Ethics Be Put Aside When the Boss Asks for Chilean Sea Bass? Or, Worse, Foie Gras?

Chef Sara Ventiera is on a three-week trip to the Bahamas, manning the kitchen on a 91-foot yacht. She will file regular updates from the waters about what it's like to work on a yacht, from pretrip provisioning to seaplane produce delivery. Click here for previous reports.

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Photo provided
Chilean sea bass: delicious and ethically questionable.
It's 8 o'clock Thursday night. We just completed our last dinner service for the trip. Tonight's entrée was Chilean sea bass served over a brown rice pilaf with sautéed zucchini and a warm tomato vinaigrette. The boss and his wife loved it. I, on the other hand, had mixed feelings about the dish.

The flavors melded together beautifully: the tangy, warm tomato and red onions over the sweet fish with the garlicky, tender zucchini, on top of the nutty brown rice. To top it off, it was paired with a supple meursault. Just enough finesse to nicely round out the meal. The praise from the boss should have been enough to keep me satisfied for the evening, but I couldn't get over the guilt I was feeling. I've been feeling terrible for ordering the sea bass.

In the process of planning the menu, I received an email

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Rough Seas Ahead, So How About That Lobster?

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Photos by Sara Ventiera
The author, manning the grill during rough seas. 

Chef Sara Ventiera is on a three-week trip to the Bahamas, manning the kitchen on a 91-foot yacht. She will file regular updates from the waters about what it's like to work on a yacht, from pretrip provisioning to seaplane produce delivery. Click here for previous reports.


"What would you like for lunch?" I asked. " have some lobster that would be good in a salad or on a roll. Or I could do something milder. It's probably going to be a bit choppy." "The lobster is fine," replied the boss. The Mrs. agreed.

She settled for the salad. He chose the lobster roll. It was about 8:30 in the morning when I asked. I wanted to prepare whatever I would be serving before we left. I coarsely chopped the lobster meat. I left a small portion dry in one container, and with the rest, I prepared the lobster salad in the classic New England style. I then positioned all of my other ingredients in the front of the fridge. I did not want to have to search around while we rocked 
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Seaplane Produce Delivery Saves a Yachtie Chef From Frozen Veggies

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Photo by Sara Ventiera
When down island, sometimes the only produce stand looks more like a seaplane.


Chef Sara Ventiera is on a three-week trip to the Bahamas, manning the kitchen on a 91-foot yacht. She will file regular updates from the waters about what it's like to work on a yacht, from pretrip provisioning to seaplane produce delivery. Click here for previous reports.


The radio crackles to life with the pilot's voice nearly overpowered by the buzzing engine in the background. "Captain, ETA, five minutes. Repeat, ETA, five minutes," says Paul, the pilot.

The still water is a bright turquoise under the cloudy gray skies. It had just started drizzling. We circled around in the tender, waiting. One of the guests is planning to depart. I was waiting for my produce delivery. Then we hear it: the muted roar of a single-engine seaplane in the distance. Our chariot approaches.

We watch it descend quickly. There's a whoosh as the pontoons hit the water. Time to

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Yacht Cooking Means Shipshape Service, Right Down to the Plate's Careful Position

Chef Sara Ventiera is on a three-week trip to the Bahamas, manning the kitchen on a 91-foot yacht. She will file regular updates from the waters about what it's like to work on a yacht, from pretrip provisioning to seaplane produce delivery. Click here for previous reports.

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Photo by Sara Ventiera
The captain's flan, with the flags appropriately turned to 12 o'clock.
"Can you seat them for me?" I asked Julie, the stew. "I have about ten minutes on the chicken and their starter is almost good to go."

This is crunch time in the galley. They asked to eat at 6:45. It was 6:47, I wanted to get this service over as quickly as possible. I wanted to go to bed. Julie hurried out to the aft deck to announce dinner was ready to be served. The guests meandered into the dining room to gather around the table. Meanwhile, Julie grabbed bottles of Pellegrino and wine. Tonight, their options were a Chassagne Montrachet, Domaine Ott Rose, and Acacia Pinot Noir. Each is

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A Yacht Chef's Life: Breakfast to Dinner to Late-Night Snacks, With Brownies Just in Case

Chef Sara Ventiera is on a three-week trip to the Bahamas, manning the kitchen on a 91-foot yacht. She will file regular updates from the waters about what it's like to work on a yacht, from pretrip provisioning to seaplane produce delivery. Click here for previous reports.

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Photo from bakeorbreak
Brownies: just in case.
"It's not your turn. I'm supposed to go," said one of the guests.

"I don't even know how to play this game. I don't even know what you're talking about!" yelled another while laughing.

It's 10 at night, and I'm listening to an alcohol-fueled debate on the rules of some form of dominoes. I am laughing hysterically in the galley. I've been awake and working since 7:30 in the morning. This

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High-Seas Cooking Lesson of the Day: Salads Become Flying Objects in Windy Weather

Chef Sara Ventiera is on a three-week trip to the Bahamas, manning the kitchen on a 91-foot yacht. She will file regular updates from the waters about what it's like to work on a yacht, from pretrip provisioning to seaplane produce delivery. Click here for previous reports.

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Photo by Sara Ventiera
"Let's get up and get out first thing in the morning," said the boss after receiving the weather report from the captain. The winds would be picking up. If we were to stay in Lyford Cay, we would have been stuck for days. This was not ideal. The guests came aboard to escape from civilization. In terms of Bahamian destinations, Lyford Cay is most certainly not an escape from society; it is the epitome of country-club culture. It was time to pack up the boat yet again and haul ass down island.

During the ride over from Florida, the winds were blowing at 25 mph. Water was spraying over the bow. Foul-weather jackets were donned. Luckily, no one had been sick. That's always entertaining, More »

For Yacht Chefs, Finding Produce Down Island Means Braving Guns, Roosters, and Kaliks

Chef Sara Ventiera is on a three-week trip to the Bahamas, manning the kitchen on a 91-foot yacht. She will file regular updates from the waters about what it's like to work on a yacht, from pretrip provisioning to seaplane produce delivery. Click here for previous reports.

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The horse was friendlier than the sign, which warned of an attack dog with the message: "I can make it to the gate in 3 seconds. Can you?"
We stepped out of the cab to be greeted by a couple of roosters sitting under a sign: "Private Property. My wife has a gun. Violators will be shot."

I shared a befuddled glance with Julie, the yacht's stew. We continued toward a fenced-in building with a farm store sign on the front. Just inside the fence sits a paddock with a couple of ponies that approached as we entered. We stopped to pet them. They lost interest as soon as they discovered we did not come bearing food. We didn't have much time anyway. We came to provision.

Goodfellow Farms is on the west end of New Providence Island, about a 30-minute drive from downtown Nassau. I have been sourcing produce from them for years, but this was More »

"We're Turning Back to Key Largo," Said the Captain; Time for Lamb With Mint Sauce

Chef Sara Ventiera is on a three-week trip to the Bahamas, manning the kitchen on a 91-foot yacht. She will file regular updates from the waters about what it's like to work on a yacht, from pretrip provisioning to seaplane produce delivery. Click here for previous reports.

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Photo by Sara Ventiera
One positive of a failing engine: mint sauce that wouldn't be possible while at sea.
"We're turning back to Key Largo," said the captain as he returned from the engine room. He and the engineer had just run down after hearing the obnoxious, low-pitched blare of the engine-room alarm. It's the kind of sound that gets stuck in the lower part of your eardrum and just stays there, like the reverse alert on a golf cart. The starboard engine was overheating. A small fitting had broken loose. There was no spare onboard. Because of our distance from Nassau, our best option was to head back to Key Largo.

We are now sitting on anchor. Waiting. Waiting for the tide to rise to get back through the channel and into the dock. Waiting for the engine technicians to clean up the problem. If you haven't noticed yet, this is More »

Farm-Raised Salmon? Not on This Yacht

Chef Sara Ventiera is setting off on a three-week trip to the Bahamas, manning the kitchen on a 91-foot yacht. She will file regular updates from the waters about what it's like to work on a yacht, from pretrip provisioning to seaplane produce delivery.

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Farm-raised salmon isn't going to cut it for this trip.
As soon I saw the "Norwegian Atlantic Salmon" label on the box, I started to flip. It was Friday afternoon, and I was unpacking a $2,500 order for the yacht. I called my provisioner immediately. "Kathy, we have a problem."

My boss' wife specified a mostly organic diet, and I have a strong aversion to farm-raised fish. This farm-raised salmon was definitely not organic. Besides, I am one of those crazy animal-welfare and sustainability people. Yes, I am that person who feeds my dogs organic food, supplemented with wild salmon oil. If I can see the stark difference in their coats between using wild and More »

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