What are you doing / where are you working right now?
I have taken some time off yachts this year. I was working in LA as a private chef which I enjoyed until Covid stopped all that, then I cooked for a charity in the UK feeding those affected by Covid and now I’m home in France buying for Ocean Pantry provisioners while I renovate my apartment in Antibes. It’s been a year of unexpected changes but I’ve loved it.
Who is your food hero (dead or alive) and why?
It’s probably not the coolest cheffy answer but I think Jamie Oliver tries to do a lot of good for the general public’s interest in food and diet and for school children’s meals. His food is for everyone and he genuinely seems like a good, positive person. I’m all for educating people to eat healthily and enjoy food. My mother has also taught me a lot growing up about cooking and growing veg, igniting a food and produce interest.
What three ingredients could you not live without?
Citrus, fresh herbs, chilli.
What are your three favorite cookbooks and why?
Ottelenghi’s Nopi, Richard Bertinet’s Crust and Great British Chefs web page.
What three kitchen gadgets could you not live without?
A Microplane, a mandolin and a Kitchen Aid… oh and a good rubber head spatula – not really a gadget but so satisfying to scrape the bowl clean!
What piece of equipment should every yacht have in the galley?
A Pacojet and a vacuum pack machine! But also, good ovens – I love a Rational. When your equipment works well your day runs so much better!
What would you say are some of the most overrated ingredients?
No ingredient is overrated if it serves a purpose in the dish.
What would you say are some of the most underrated ingredients?
I think using quality ingredients is the key to a great dish. Fine produce does half the hard work for you, but cheap meat cuts can be so versatile and have loads of flavor. I love using harissa and fish sauce.
What has been the most popular (or requested dish) on a yacht by a guest so far?
Platters of cheese or dips and crudities, ice creams… nothing unusual.
If you were a guest on a yacht, who would you want to cook for you and why?
So many of the yacht chefs out there are turning out some incredible food, I’d be super excited to eat any of their food.
What music do you listen to in the galley (if at all)?
A bit of Chris Evans on Virgin Radio in the morning, Audible books or podcasts, something upbeat like Arizona for when I have to speed things up a notch and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats for clean down.
Best galley tip/hack?
Preparation is key! Be clean, tidy and organised.
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?
The BVI post hurricane Irma. Ask the chef Facebook pages for advice and local agents.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Menu planning. Takes me ages.
What do you see as being the biggest challenge for chefs in the industry moving forward?
Currently Covid is a challenge, freedom of movement, shopping or using provisioners and produce quality and availability.
What would you say to people who stereotype chefs as being prima donnas with big egos?
Chefs can be under extreme pressure and their creativity under scrutiny, so a little flip out from time to time is expected. To lead and be creative takes unwavering confidence and this can be seen as ego.
What is your attitude toward crew with dietary requirements?
I am fine with it, as long as its not a fad diet. But if crew have dietary needs, guests do too so it’s good to keep diet ideas fresh.
What is the weirdest most bizarre thing you have ever been asked to cook?
Not really bizarre but some guests came back with a load of sea urchins to be prepped and a tiny little Bonito tuna they’d bought from a fishmonger, they were so small they should never have been sold. I prepped the tiny specimens up for them.
Name something you have cooked for guests that you are most proud of?
I got myself through a pretty intense service for high profile guests. A last minute dinner on board after being told it was dinner off and then the numbers of guests growing as the courses were being served so filleting and prepping fish to order. Fun times! I actually enjoyed the service more as I felt myself rise to the challenge. I wouldn’t want every service to be like that but I was proud of how I handled it.
When you are interviewing a chef to work for you, how do you know if they are any good? How they present themselves. Are they clean and tidy? Are they passionate about food? Where do they eat or which chefs are they interested in? Will they get on with the crew?
What one thing should all chefs do to help the environment?
Reduce food wastage.
What one thing can chefs do to limit food wastage?
For crew, as long as it’s food safe, I try and re-work a leftover to avoid waste.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you want to be?
A food and travel writer.
Name: Keri Tipler
Years’ experience as a chef: 11