What are you doing / where are you working right now?
I’m currently working in Monaco on a 40m charter yacht called M/Y THUMPER. It’s a fantastic boat and the galley is fully equipped with everything any good chef could dream of having on board.
Who is your food hero (dead or alive) and why?
MY food hero would be Ferran Adriàwho owned the restaurant El Bulli. Also, my first head chef at Claridge’s in London, John Williams, who taught me the very basics of being a chef and how to push myself to exceed expectations.
What three ingredients could you not live without?
Garlic, chili and one of my all-time favorites – the Alba White Truffle.
What are your three favorite cookbooks and why?
My three favourite books are Larousse Gastronomique – the basis to any classic cookery, Sous Vide by Thomas Keller and The Fat Duck Cookbook.
What three kitchen gadgets could you not live without?
I always live to have as much good equipment in the galley as possible as it’s so important to produce the best food you can on board. I couldn’t live without a Bamix blender, water bath, sous vide machine and a good Ice cream machine.
What piece of equipment should every yacht have in the galley?
I think every yacht should have Kitchen Aid Mixer. Its surprising how handy and fast they can be for savory and desserts.
What would you say are some of the most overrated ingredients?
I think gold leaf and edible glitter are overrated and don’t do anything for me. They can look ok if used correctly but have no taste.
What would you say are some of the most underrated ingredients?
I think raw/fresh Iberico Pork is very underrated and is very cheap for the quality it gives in taste and texture.
What has been the most popular (or requested dish) on a yacht by a guest so far?
For me everybody asks for line caught Sea bass and, in the Mediterranean, it’s just amazing! It’s very versatile and you can create so many dishes with it.
If you were a guest on a yacht, who would you want to cook for you and why?
I would like to be cooked for by Marco Pierre White because he is another one of the UK’s top chefs and I like his philosophy about food.
What music do you listen to in the galley (if at all)?
Stereophonics, Snow Patrol, and Kings of Leon are my go to music on board.
Best galley tip/hack?
When we head to places that I can struggle to get certain ingredients, I always freeze in advance……Galangal, Ginger, Kafir limes, chili, and turmeric and grate them frozen on a Microplane and it works amazingly. I also do my garlic fresh on a Microplane too rather thanusing a garlic press.
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?
I went to Algeria once and found it very dangerous to get of the boat so I would recommend to provision very well beforehand so you don’t need to. Or see if you can use an agent.
What is the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part of my job would be being on call 24/7. No complaints because I love my job but it can be very hard after 13 weeks of back-to-back charter with only a few hours’ sleep each night and no days to rest.
What do you see as being the biggest challenge for chefs in the industry moving forward?
I would say the biggest challenges as a yacht chef would be is getting the right products from a supplier when you don’t get chance to hand pick them yourself.
What would you say to people who stereotype chefs as being prima donnas with big egos?
As a passionate chef you cook with your heart, so there are a lot of emotions put into every dish. Days can be long and frustrating at times and it’s not the easiest job to do when you’re trying to exceed expectations on a yacht.
What is your attitude toward crew with dietary requirements?
When cooking for crew I try to make a nice variety of food so the crew don’t get bored and they have plenty of options. It can take a lot of time to cook for one crew member that is gluten free or lactose intolerant which can dilute the service you’re giving to the guests as every minute counts in a galley.
What is the weirdest most bizarre thing you have ever been asked to cook?
I was asked to do a “Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” tasting plater with whatever I had in my fridge. I ended up preparing some canapés in this style, one of which was raw baby squid tentacles wrapped around a bamboo skewer rolled in sesame seeds. They looked quite nice in the end and the guests ate them.
Name something you have cooked for guests that you are most proud of?
I like cooking sous vide and cook a mean fillet of Wagyu beef with sweet potato purée with veal jus or a fresh plate of truffle pasta.
When you are interviewing a chef to work for you, how do you know if they are any good?
I would ask them a few culinary questions that only good chefs would understand and look at who they have worked under.
What one thing should all chefs do to help the environment?
All chefs should think about recycling plastic as it’s one of the worse things polluting our seas.
What one thing can chefs do to limit food wastage?
I always try to use stock rotation and not cook silly amounts of food just to be put in the fridge. Manage the food you give to the crew correctly.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you want to be?
I would like to have been a food critic if I hadn’t been a chef.
Chef Name: Ryan Plester
Years’ experience as a chef: 21 years working in the UK and Europe