Unique wisdom drives yacht chef’s passions

Aug 8, 2016 by Dorie Cox

Yacht Chef Adora Wisdom was pregnant and craved comfort food.

“I just wanted steak tacos, so I went to every taco place in a 30-mile radius,” she said. But she never found what she remembered as a child.

“I’m going to do it by myself’,” Wisdom told her husband, Capt. Zayn Berlin.

She takes on yachting and family with the same passion.

The dictionary defines wisdom as “the natural ability to understand things that most other people cannot understand.” That fits Wisdom, 32. She does things that make sense to her, but not everyone else, like her challenging schedule: She is considered full-time on M/Y Southern Way, a 120-foot yacht based on the U.S. West Coast; she runs Taco Grill,

Chef Adora Wisdom continues to work on yachts while owning and running her Ft. Lauderdale restaurant, Taco Grill. PHOTO BY DORIE COX

Chef Adora Wisdom continues to work on yachts while owning and running her Ft. Lauderdale restaurant, Taco Grill. PHOTO BY DORIE COX

her land-based restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale; and she has Jack, a 15-month-old son.

“She goes 100 miles per hour,” Capt. Berlin said. “She’s a hands-on go-getter. If she wants to do or know something, there’s no stopping her.”

When she decided to open Taco Grill, he asked her, “Adora, are you insane? You’re four months pregnant.”

Capt. Berlin knew the challenge; he was a restaurant chef in his native South Africa before becoming a yacht chef about 16 years ago. He became a captain eight years ago.

“I knew that I was insane,” Wisdom said. “But you can’t say no to a pregnant woman.”

Today, Wisdom, her husband, her mother and her staff at the restaurant work together to keep all parts running smoothly. She feels fortunate that she works when the owner requests her as opposed to living onboard. And Capt. Berlin‘s jobs allow him to be based at home.

“We never take a trip at the same time,” Wisdom said. “For example he just had a trip to the Bahamas and when he gets back I’ll be going on a trip.”

Her mother plays a big part in taking care of their son, and she relies on a father/son pair and good employees at Taco Grill to keep the place running.

“We all work as a team,” she said.

How Wisdom came to yachting

Capt. Berlin met Wisdom in 2011 while on a break after the yacht he worked on sold. When he went back to yachting, she joined him. Hollie Franke, senior crew coordinator at Luxury Yacht Group, learned a lot about Wisdom’s ways as she helped get her started with a resume and job interviews.

“Any interview she goes on, she gets the job,” Franke said. “She’s the hardest worker and very business oriented.”

The reason she can manage so many parts to her life is because she creates a team environment, Franke said. Capt. Berlin and Wisdom ran M/Y Chills on charter trips together for three years.

“Adora’s the dominant personality on any boat; her character stands out,” he said. “She takes it on herself that each person is happy. From 90 percent of our charters, I’d say she’s still in contact with the guests.”

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Chef Adora Wisdom at her Ft. Lauderdale restaurant, Taco Grill. PHOTO BY DORIE COX

Capt. Rob Petrina hired Wisdom as a chef/stew on her current job, M/Y Southern Way. He sees the parts of her personality that allow her to do so many things. She shines in her ability to take care of crew, and she is multi-faceted in all parts of working on the yacht, he said.

“It’s a huge job for one person, but whatever the work is, she takes it with no complaining,” Capt. Petrina sai
d by phone from the U.S. West Coast.

“She’s hard-headed and strong, but she knows how far to push it,” he said. “We had issues when she put up her dukes a little bit, but I reminded her I’m the captain.”

Wisdom went back to work on yachts when her son was five months old and said it remains important. And having a lot to do does not stop her from trying.


Chef Adora Wisdom and crew on M/Y Chills. PHOTO PROVIDED

“I love it, my life is at sea,” she said. “More so, I only feel complete when I’m in the galley in a boat. It’s very strange to explain.

I can come in here and put my heart and soul into everything,” she said as she pointed inside to her restaurant. “But finding the people who feel the same way to represent me is very hard.

“When I’m on a boat, it’s completely different,” she said. “Every item that is put in or out is … it’s me, it’s my hands, it’s my sweat,” Wisdom said as she made a lip-smack sound implying deliciousness. “It is my heart.”

Dorie Cox is associate editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at dorie@the-triton.com. To try Wisdom’s tacos or learn more, visit Taco Grill at 3341 NE 32nd St., Ft. Lauderdale (33308), +1 954-952-7429, tacogrillgirl.com.


About Dorie Cox

Dorie Cox is a writer with Triton News.

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