Culinary Waves: by Chef Mary Beth Lawton Johnson
While in the galley this coming year, do your due diligence to keep yourself abreast of the changes in the food industry. This year, for example, you as a chef will encounter more plant-based options, making that vegan or vegetarian meal easier to prepare.
It’s only when you get into more specified diet requirements within the concept of plant-based that you really have to do your homework to find out which foods a specific guest can or cannot have. Due diligence ensures that a vegan or vegetarian guest who also follows a gluten-free or low-sodium diet, as well as a no-carbs guest, would not be served Beyond Beef, for example, which contains potato, arrowroot, corn and tapioca starch. While I am not knocking the meat alternative, I simply can’t use that product because it is full of starch and sodium, which someone on a specific heart-healthy or plant-based diet maybe should avoid.
We should also ensure that we, as chefs, are up-to-date on our inoculations and medical checkups. While we are busy taking care of others, it leaves very little time for us. When was the last time you had a tetanus shot? If you cut yourself with one of the knives, you need a tetanus shot.
Do you know your cholesterol? How many times have you heard of a chef collapsing from exhaustion because they were dehydrated? Are you in an area prone to malaria, or are you working with someone who you recently found out had hepatitis? All of these medical concerns should be addressed immediately while you are in dry dock or the yacht is hauled out for repairs. Do your due diligence in taking care of yourself.
Do your due diligence in helping others on board. Maybe the chief stew needs your help, or the interior crew. Don’t just hang out in the galley and isolate yourself. If you have downtime, get out of the kitchen.
Do your due diligence in being a better chef. Have you ever wanted to learn those chocolate techniques, or how to pull sugar for the decorations on board? What about learning to use the newest sous vide, or taking that pasta-making class you thought about? Now is the time to do those classes. Also, consider taking those classes online to improve your culinary education. The American Culinary Federation offers online classes that give you credit for chef certification.
Whatever else you decide to do to better yourself this year, be sure to do your due diligence in making yourself a better crew member – and a better chef.
Mary Beth Lawton Johnson is a certified executive pastry chef and Chef de Cuisine, and has worked on yachts for more than 25 years. Comments are welcome below.