I started working on ships in 2001, in the position of first cook. I have now been with Fred Olsen since 2008 joining in the position of Executive Sous Chef / Executive Chef Reliever on board Braemar. I was promoted to Executive Chef on the Balmoral in January 2012 before transferring to the Boudicca in 2014 and Now Braemar. In total I have now worked on 28 different ships and seen the world many times.
- Have you always wanted to be a chef? For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed cooking and experimenting with food. It was in my 4th year at secondary school when I really thought that I would enjoy being a Chef.
- Why did you decide to become a chef at sea? I am not sure when I first decided I would like to work on a ship, I was brought up by the sea so I think it has always been in my blood. I know I tried for quite some time to get a company to employ me however after writing to 50 companies over a few years only one offered me a job, the most wrote back to say they did not employ females in the galley.
- What’s your favourite dish or type of food? I cook every day at home and I mostly eat vegetarian food, my favourite type of food are mushrooms, I can eat mushrooms with everything and I especially enjoy wild mushrooms cooked in crème fraiche on toast.
- Do you have any kitchen disaster stories? The biggest disaster I can remember is running out of turkey, Brussel sprouts and roast potatoes on a Christmas dinner. I won’t say which ship or year it was as I hope we covered it up well and the guests did not notice.
- Executive Chef is a tough job. What do you do in your spare time? Dare I say it, I do a lot of cooking and baking in my spare time as I find it very relaxing, I also really enjoy walking and spend a lot of my time on country walks in the Kent Downs.
- You’ve seen many parts of the world…What was your favourite place to visit? I have a lot of favourites for different reasons but I think that Barbados will always be the favourite, mainly because there is everything on one Island – shopping, beaches, nightlife and good food.
- Have the tastes of customers changed during your career? I started my career in the American market so it is now completely different. It is hard to compare as the clientele are so different.
- Has the heightened interest in celebrity chefs and cooking in general been good or bad for the industry? I think it has been positive as more people can now see that cooking is not so hard, anyone can do it. Cooking from fresh does not have to take all day, you can still make tasty dishes in a short amount of time.
- What ingredients should every home have in the cupboard/refrigerator? For me I have a good olive oil, pasta, eggs and passata. When I am home I am lucky enough to have time to shop daily so my fridge tends to be empty from one day to the next.
- If I can invest in only five things for my kitchen (meaning, spend more than I normally would), what should I buy as a home cook? Always a good knife is first and then a good set of baking tins and pans. You can now put all your ingredients into an expensive machine and press a switch but that takes the fun out of cooking and you do not get the same satisfaction as cooking by hand, so really you do not need to spend a lot of money on equipment.
Sara has also shared a very easy recipe for us, along with a photo of the delicious pudding!
Chocolate fondant pudding
200g dark chocolate – use 70% or higher cocoa solids
4 egg yolks
1.5tsp vanilla extract
60g plain flour
Melt the chocolate with the butter in a bowl over simmering water.
Whisk the eggs, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla until the mixture is light and fluffy and double in size.
Sift in the flour and add the chocolate, slowly folding in with a metal spoon.
Divide mixture between 8 pudding basins and bake at mark 6, 400F, 200C for 10 – 14 minutes