It’s July. We’re smack bang in the middle of the busiest part of the year: the summer season. Owners, guests and charter clients will be stepping aboard ready for that ultimate yachting experience, part of which is the food. But there are all sorts of issues when it comes to sourcing top quality food for a charter, as superyacht chef Manny Slomovits, on board M/Y Legend, explains.
“As yacht chefs we know all too well that the biggest challenge we are facing while on charter is where, what and how we are going to find the best micro-greens, edible flowers, and funky yummy goodness of vegetables that are harvested at the peak of their flavour and season. Not to mention having them delivered to our galley door with ease. We are constantly trying to enhance our dishes and wow our top paying charter guests and owners under the most difficult circumstances possible.”
As Slomovits points out, sourcing fresh produce in remote areas of the world can be problematic. “Even when you manage to get off the dock and make connections with local farmers, you’re still bound by what the island can produce or when the next container shipment arrives, before you even get to see what’s on the shelves of the local grocery store. Hunting down and sourcing fresh farm produce is one of the most different challenges I can think of.”
This chef has found a solution: The Chef’s Garden, a family-run farm in Ohio who prides itself on what farmer Lee Jones calls “sustainable agriculture”. A 300-acre farm, the farmers will only farm a third of that at a time and, via lab analysis on the soil, pick the produce that will best respond to the nutrients in the different soils, allowing natural nutrients to be rebuilt, rather than adding them chemically.
Favoured by well-know chefs including Raymond Blanc, The Chef’s Garden has recently seen an increase in its superyacht chef customer base, largely due to its suitability for the sector.
“We’re very excited to work with the yacht chefs because they recognise the quality,” Jones tells me. “Traditionally produce is shipped to the distributor where it sits in coolers and waits for an order. Our inventory is literally growing until the chef orders it, and we pick the produce the same day it is ordered.”
Chefs can order on count, rather than weight, another plus for those working on board, and the produce can be shipped anywhere in the world, or ordered through provisioning companies. “It’s just so critical that they have what they need to work with,” explains Jones, who adds that the shelf life is one of the biggest draws for superyacht chefs. “The process of not picking it until the chef orders it gives the shelf life and the flavour,” Jones explains.
The farm also has a solution for one of the biggest challenges faced by those in the galley: space. “There’s no waste, because we always clean and trim the excess leaves, so what we send them is 100 per cent usable. Space is always an issue on yachts, so they don’t want to receive a bunch of produce and then have half a box of trimming.”
For Slomovits, the more superyacht chefs who know about this hidden gem, the more chefs who can provide their owners and guests with the top-quality food they expect, and deserve, on board.
Images courtesy of chef Manny Slomovits.