Top Shelf: by Chef Tim MacDonald
What does it take to run an interior on a busy 180-foot (55m) charter yacht for a year? Not on rotation, but old-school style. In the front trench, with bayonette fixed and fighting for your life, hand-to-hand, eyeball-to-eyeball-to-eyeball. Blood, sweat, tears and tantrums. All of the above, and then some.
What would it take to do this for three years – and to do the entire setup from scratch, straight out of the yard, and see it through? Surely this is an epic, Everest-scale feat in yachting.
I know one chief stew who has done it – and done it with perfect aplomb. So, Jessica ‘Sweets’ Proctor, this column is for you.
This season, in my 12th year as a yacht chef, Jessica surpassed the sublime Penny Morrison to become the new No.1 head stew I have ever worked with. The secret lies in the mature understanding of the best way to deal with a moody, overworked, espresso fire-breathing sole chef to get what it is the client wants with a minimum of collateral damage.
By the time this article prints, she will be on her way to Mount Everest base camp, enjoying her retirement after three years of truly outstanding work.
The gingersnap short stack is the perfect dessert to illustrate the teetering highs of the past three years. This season is crowned with the sweetest of violet gelatos – and the violet on top? Well, that’s Jessica on top of Everest.
With respect, gratitude and many thanks for the past three years from your fellow crew, Jessica, this is for you.
(For a slight variation, use raspberry sorbet in place of the violet gelato, and top with a prime raspberry.)
The trick is to time the raspberry placement so as not to saturate the biscuits, otherwise the entire stack will fall.
Tim MacDonald (timothymacdonald.weebly.com) 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.