What are you doing / where are you working right now?
Enjoying some holidays, while avoiding coronavirus!
Who is your food hero (dead or alive) and why?
Andrew McConnell, I’ve been following him through Melbourne for years. Some very innovative concepts from when I first started in the industry and still going.
What three ingredients could you not live without?
Seaweed, chilli, ginger.
What are your three favorite cookbooks and why?
Ben Shewry, Origin. Absolutely love the food Ben is doing at Attica, I love the detail of going through where he grew up and his use of foraged produce.
Charlie Trotter, Desserts. One of the first cookbooks I ever bought as a 16 year-old, I still flick through is to this day.
Peter Gilmore, Quay. From the combination of techniques and ingredients in these recipes, you can see why Quay is one of the best in Australia.
What three kitchen gadgets could you not live without?
Japanese Mandolin (Benriner), vacuum machine, microplane.
What piece of equipment should every yacht have in the galley?
What would you say are some of the most overrated ingredients?
Black Truffle and Chia Seeds
What would you say are some of the most underrated ingredients?
What has been the most popular (or requested dish) on a yacht by a guest so far?
If you were a guest on a yacht, who would you want to cook for you and why?
Dan Hunter. His food is delicious, innovative and all round awesome.
What music do you listen to in the galley (if at all)?
Anything from Nirvana to Infected Mushroom! Half the time it will just be me singing to myself though!
Best galley tip/hack?
Preparation – especially before the season kicks off. Anything you can make in larger quantities, vacuum and freeze/store to make your life easier while under the pump.
What is the most difficult location you have ever had to provision in? And what bit of advice can you give to figure out where to go?
Kerala in India. As much as I loved being in India it was a nightmare to try and go provisioning. From the amount of traffic to the process of just getting the food through security in the ports. If in India, sort a driver and do a LOT of research beforehand. Don’t rely on agents.
What is the hardest part of your job?
For me it has been provisioning in extremely remote places around Asia and South East Asia. I was provisioning in Sarong, West Papua last year while there was political unrest and riots happening. Internet was turned off, credit cards wouldn’t work and cash withdrawals were limited. I had to get creative then just to fill the fridges.
What do you see as being the biggest challenge for chefs in the industry moving forward? One thing that is not talked about but should be more openly… Mental health. A lot of well known chefs have struggled silently with dire consequences.
What would you say to people who stereotype chefs as being prima donnas with big egos? Never judge a book by its cover.
What is your attitude toward crew with dietary requirements?
Anyone who genuinely has an allergy or intolerance I am more than happy to cater for. Whatever is the latest movement in Hollywood or with Influencers on social media shouldn’t be the chef’s problem though.
What is the weirdest most bizarre thing you have ever been asked to cook?
Name something you have cooked for guests that you are most proud of?
I had to do a 7 course Russian dinner for guests, last minute in the Maldives. The boss was extremely happy.
When you are interviewing a chef to work for you, how do you know if they are any good?
Generally speaking, I look for the way someone moves around a galley/kitchen. If they move with any sort of purpose or just move like they’re in slow motion. Also the way they talk about food, I can generally hear in their voice if its something they love or just do for the next pay check.
What one thing should all chefs do to help the environment?
Limit the amount of single use plastics, buy containers with lids so there should be less cling film used. Even though there are water makers still try to use as little water as possible.
What one thing can chefs do to limit food wastage?
Proper portioning, not over provisioning.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you want to be?
Test driver for Lamborghini!!
Name: Chef James Smyth
Years’ experience as a chef: 19
Nationality: Australian / Irish