Chef Tara and Capt. Alexander “Sasha” Bouis ran 60-foot charter yachts for eight years and often watched fellow crew move to larger ones. They loved boating but knew work on bigger boats did not suit their dreams, so they cooked up an idea to have a food truck and stay in the industry. They created the first commercial food boat in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Pizza Pi VI.
The name fits perfectly; pi was chosen for its clarity as a call sign for marine radio communication (Papa India), as a homonym for pizza pie, and as a link to Sasha’s expertise.
Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to the diameter, important to Sasha who earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
“Sasha is a math guy,” Tara Bouis said by phone from their home in St. Thomas. “And pi is an irrational, limitless number. Friends said it was irrational getting into the food business and that we should know better.”
They bought a 37-foot aluminum monohull motorsailer and knew they could make it work, especially the limitless part. So while he re-engineered and redesigned all the systems for the bare hull, she designed the interior. After two years of doing the construction themselves, the first pizza pies were sold last November in their homeport of Christmas Cove at Great St. James Island.
The couple still connects with the yacht industry through their pick-up window at the stern. Before they closed for hurricane season in August, they cooked up seven pizzas for the crew and three for the owners of a 200-foot yacht.
“Sometimes we miss the lifestyle of big fancy boats,” Tara Bouis said. “But we like our clientele. We get all walks life, a nice slice of all boaters.”
Capt. Richard and Chef Adele Smit run charters in the area and order their pies by VHF radio. “They will actually dinghy our order out to the channel where we float and exchange money for food. No anchoring or mooring needed, and we can have lunch under way,” they wrote in a review.
The Bouises have also kept their yachting connections by working at the BVI Charter Yacht Society presenting new crew training seminars and volunteering in previous years. Tara served on the board of directors.
“It is important to us, we want to pay back to help crew figure out quicker than we did,” she said.
This year they will focus on their pizza business and support charter shows in a different way.
“Pizza Pi will will be donating pizzas to feed dinner to all the captains and brokers during the Wednesday night kick-off party at the St. Thomas boat show,” Tara Bouis said.
This year’s Virgin Islands Charteryacht League show in St. Thomas, USVI runs Nov. 5-7 and the
BVI Charter Yacht Society show runs Nov. 9-12 in Tortola, BVI.
Pizza Pi hosts a few special events during the year including a Christmas Day boat and float party, International Pi Day (March 14) and “Christmas in July” on July 25 to close out the season.
Menus rotate every three months to take advantage of local seasonal ingredients. The couple’s creativity has created the Madd Mushroom, the Sweet Home Indiana (with sage sausage, pickled corn, red new potatoes and fresh spinach), the Roti Mon (with coconut curry sauce) and The Dalai Lama (one with everything.) This season includes a new liquor license and a specialty cocktail Long Island Iced Tea to compliment the New York-style pizza.
Pizza Pi opens for the season on Nov. 14. Yacht crew can look for the gray and teal stern graphics to know the way. Or just put a nose to the wind.
“Even days without breeze, this boat dumps out pizza smells,” Bouis said. “We always park upwind.”
Dorie Cox is associate editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at email@example.com.