Top Shelf: In charter season, a helper worth her weight in cake

Dec 10, 2018 by Timothy MacDonald

Top Shelf: by Chef Tim McDonald

Ask any sole charter chef what they want most for Christmas and I’ll bet you, sure as nuts, they will say a reliable helper during charter.

The “helper,” as they are called, can be a sticky commodity. The long-arm sweep of the Ships Cook Certificate has not swept far enough, in my opinion, and there still exists a group of unqualified impostors still surviving somehow within the industry.

Think Ratatouille and Chef Linguini specifically. But in the case of Deb ‘O’Leg, the opposite was true.

When you are on charter and going into battle, you better hope that your helper can produce the goods. During The Med and Caribbean seasons 2013-2014, I was lucky enough to work with Deb ‘O’Leg (aka Deborah Volbrecht), and this carrot cake was a result of the perfect harmony between sole charter chef and helper.

A simple carrot cake can be elevated to new levels if you have the skills, means and know-how. Hippy grass, Marzipan carrots, standard yacht porcelain and a simple recipe are all it takes.

Deb ‘O’Leg’s Carrot Cake

Deb O’Leg’s Carrot Cake

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons allspice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup demerara sugar
1 1/4 cup mashed butternut pumpkin
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 chook’s egg
2 3/4 cup shredded carrots
1 cup jumbo raisins

1 1/2 cup roasted, crushed walnuts
1/2 cup Anna’s birdseed mix (chia, black and white sesame, flax, etc.)


The method is simple – essentially, you are making a batter. Combine all the wet ingredients and fold in the sifted dry.
Bake at around 180 C.
For the cake in the photo, I simply layered three cakes using cream cheese frosting (well-sweetened with icing sugar cream cheese whipped till fluffy). Wheatgrass, walnuts and marzipan carrots were used to elevate.

Tim MacDonald ( has more than 20 years experience as a chef. He was named Concours de Chefs winner for Yachts over 160 feet at the 2011 Antigua Charter Yacht Show. His recipes are designed for the owner and guests. Comments are welcome below.