I was an executive in the mortgage industry, and getting tired of the long hours and exceedingly more difficult guidelines and demands from the lending institutions, I was dreaming about my way out. I always had a passion for cooking and traveling, and attended Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts from 2010 to 2011 to feed that passion and begin a segway into the culinary arts.
In December 2012, a good friend invited me to join her for her 40th birthday on her parents' sailing catamaran, which would be at The Atlantis in the Bahamas for the Christmas and New Year holidays. The day after Christmas, I flew to Nassau and joined the group in the marina. I am from Texas, and never knew about the yachting world, so the big boats were amazing to see. My friend's father, said to me, "You know, Tam, those big boats hire chefs to travel the world and feed the crew and guests". A light bulb went on, and my passion was ignited. The universe brought me to the Bahamas at that moment to realise how to put my two life dreams into one amazing career.
Under the fireworks of the New Year celebrations, I said to myself, "I want to be a yacht chef", and I began researching how to become one. Once back in Texas, I searched the internet, talked to a friend I had met while in Nassau, and soon found out what I needed to do.
I worked my stressful 60-hour-week mortgage job, and I also worked weekends in restaurants in Austin, Texas, to get the feel of working in a kitchen.
It was May 2013. Season one of Below Deck premiered on Bravo, and I felt this too was a sign from the universe that I was on the right track. Time passed and I was saving money in order to make my career transition. I downsized my life, because I was about to leave a career I had had for 13 years, and if it didn't pan out, I needed a security blanket, so to speak. I knew I needed to focus on cooking and learning, and that is exatly what I did. I worked my stressful 60-hour-week mortgage job, and I also worked weekends in restaurants in Austin, Texas, to get the feel of working in a kitchen.
Finally, in August 2014, I quit my job in the mortgage business and used the vacation time I had earned to travel to Florida and take my STCW, where I met Margaret Banks (read our interview with Margaret here). We became instant friends and supported each other going to networking events and doing any freelance and day work we could to get the big break into yachting.
Persistence, positive attitude and a great personality pays off, and I got my first four-day job on a 30m motoryacht for New Year 2014. Under the fireworks of the West Palm Beach Marina, in my chef coat serving a meal for eight guests of filet and lobster, I was a yacht chef. Dreams do come true with hard work, dedication, persistence and believing that if you want to change your life, you can.