Guide: Galley Cooking for Charters in the Caribbean
Neil always makes a joke that our cabin charters are an eating and drinking holiday interspersed with sailing!
Of course, that is not quite true as we sail 4+ hours most days. But, we do put a lot of effort into our menu and ensuring we meet our guest’s food preferences, because it’s nice to have tasty and healthy food when you are on holiday!
So what goes into galley cooking for up to 8 people (max 6 guests and 2 crew) during one of our cabin charters? Well, it has taken a while to work it all out, especially as each island has different supermarkets, types and brands of food available, but here’s how Sam does it!
First things first, what’s the galley like on Nemo? The kitchen is known as the galley on a yacht. And, although the galley on Nemo is no bigger than 2 meters squared, Nemo has all the necessities. On board we have:
- A small freezer – enough space for one charter
- A top-loading fridge – enough space for one charter
- A mobile fridge/freezer for guest drinks
- A Force 10 gimballed gas cooker with three burners, an oven and a grill (or broiler as our US friends would say)
- A double sink with a carbon and particle filter
- A soda stream, to reduce cans and bottles
- Enough dark storage areas for food and pots and pans
- A DC/AC inverter so we can run a mini blender and an egg whisk as we don’t have a generator
- Four gas cylinders and gas safety sensors
- Dedicated galley fire extinguisher, fire blanket and fire alarm (for when I burn the toast!)
Over the years we have found a menu that our guests love, we think is healthy and is pretty easy to prepare.
We have taken our inspiration from our travels, from friends who also cook on board yachts, online and from guest’s input. So our menu is pretty international with a Caribbean twist (click here to view). Neil, who is a great cook, is also very involved in the menu planning (and tasting!) as in a previous skipper role he also had to do the cooking.
We can never compete with local cooking though, so whilst we use a lot of local ingredients and love trying all the local fruits and vegetables, we enjoy experiencing local dishes when we eat ashore.
On each trip we have about 75% menu consistency, and the other 25% is determined by our guests via their preference sheets.
A preference sheet is a form we send to all guests joining us on a yacht charter as part of the booking process. In the form we ask for their likes, dislikes and food allergies, and we do our utmost to make sure we can meet them.
You can download an example of our preference sheet here.
“Sam, your food was always delicious and you made me feel so comfortable with my strange dietary restrictions! Together we discovered that olive oil does indeed come from the noble olive tree! Thank you especially for the tuna meatball recipe which I am excited to eat again and for my new best friend, the Bacon Butty!”Josh, LA
The Magical Paprika
Galley cooking is a lot easier with a fabulous app called Paprika Recipe Manager. I will always be so grateful for Claudine, a chef in the BVI, for telling me about this app as it is a lifesaver.
For each trip I plan all the meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and when we are eating ashore. I love it, as I can make tweaks to recipes, grocery lists and daily menus at any time.
Paprika converts all the recipes into different quantities so they can be scaled up and down depending on how many guests are on board during a charter. This reduces a lot of food waste on Nemo.
Paprika is then also able to create a shopping list for me, so I know for a given trip that all the recipes together will need 80+ eggs for example. It makes shopping soooo much easier. Forget that paper list!!
Food Purchase and Storage
I plan the menus and purchasing from 2 to 4 weeks in advance of each charter trip, as each island has different items available. That’s why we try and get the Preference sheet early in the booking process.
We always try to buy local but if we are on an island that has better provisioning than where we are going, we will stock up on tins, dry goods and booze where we can, and then wait to buy the fresh stuff locally (see pics below).
There aren’t lots of enormous supermarkets like at home, so you often have to go to a variety of stores to get what you need. For example, in St Vincent, Neil and I take about four hours to visit five shops and supermarkets and a fresh produce market, to get what we need for our charters.
When we get back, it takes an hour or so to unpack everything away. Anything in cardboard boxes is decanted and the cardboard is thrown away (bugs love cardboard!).
And the most important thing is making sure that all the items that can be brought back to room temperature, are. The supermarkets are so cold that everything has to get back to ‘room temp’ before being stored, otherwise food just rots, cans go rusty etc.
Working on a yacht is great as I am not just the cook, but also the back-up skipper (don’t worry I do have my Captain’s License!), crew, tour and snorkel guide, marketing manager etc. Both Neil and I wear multiple hats. But on our sailing trips I do the cooking, so if we are full that can mean upwards of 160 plates of food for a week.
My galley cooking training includes, a 3 month cordon bleu course when I was 18, six months as a chalet girl in Italy and cooking for friends and family. So it was rather a steep learning curve cooking on Nemo!
I do most of the food prep in the morning or evenings as we are sailing during the day. And even though I am one of those people who is fine ‘down below’ cooking in the galley whilst we are sailing, I prefer not to be. When we are heeling over, it can be a bit dangerous with knives and hot water, even on a gimballed oven.
Over dinner, I love discussing food and sharing recipes with our guests, and if a guest wants a recipe I will always send it their way.
The pork tenderloin recipes I use from bonappetit.com is often requested, so why not try it yourself? It is perfect served with sweet potato and plantain purée, braised red cabbage, fresh broccoli and a yummy gravy!
“Hi Sam, I just wanted to let you know that your recipe for the pork tenderloin turned out great in my oven. My Mom loved it too! Needless to say I wish I could still be sailing with you guys in the Grenadines on Nemo!”Robin, USA
That’s all folks! Thanks for reading our galley cooking blog. Please feel free to share – links are above! If you are interested in joining us on a cabin charter you can view our trips here. Going forward we will be sharing more of our guests’ favourite recipes too, so watch this space!
Sam and Neil
The BlueFoot Travel Team
About BlueFoot Travel
We offer sailing holidays in the Caribbean. Join us on board a shared yacht and experience an unforgettable crewed cabin charter. Book a cabin for your sailing vacation – ideal for solo and single travellers, couples and small groups. Relax and recharge. Enjoy delicious healthy food. Get hands-on sailing experience with an RYA sailing instructor. And, have lots of fun as we sail from one beautiful island to the next. Sail in style with BlueFoot Travel