Behind the scenes with a luxury charter chef

Chef Daniela Sanchez shares fascinating details about her culinary background, favorite restaurants & meals, and life onboard a luxury yacht.

The chef is one of the most important members of the crew of a luxury yacht, on a charter vacation, the chef can make the experience delicious, fascinating and unforgettable, and Motoryacht Remember When is fortunate to count with Chef Daniela Sanchez whose creations delight the most demanding palates with cuisine that varies from classic to avant garde, exploring a myriad ethnic flavors and worldwide ingredients of the highest quality.

On a recent afternoon onboard Remember When, Chef Daniela shared a little of her personal background, tips & secrets and even some of her favorite places to provision, restaurants and activities. Read on to discover the amazing woman behind the galley of Remember When.

1) How long have you been working in yachting?
I’ve worked in yachting for 6 years, before that I worked in the restaurant world, and in hotel and restaurant management. I love yachting because it can be very creative, as a chef I can design menus that are custom tailored to the preferences of the charter guests, their tastes, the season of year, our location, and even special celebrations that might take place onboard. Additionally charters offer a great opportunity to impress guests who are onboard to experience one of the most exclusive holidays ever.

2) What is your greatest challenge as a yacht chef?
Ironically… cooking for the crew! They are a very international group, with different preferences, and they are also used to having a culinary trained chef cook for them, so they know about good food!

I also had a fun soufflé challenge recently where the guests were really delighted by soufflé, so we created a dinner that involved various kinds of soufflés for the different courses of the meal. Because soufflé has to be served very quickly, the rest of the crew helped out so that every dish could go from the galley to the table in the shortest amount of time possible, while I was ready to create the next soufflé course.

3) At what time do you wake up? What’s special about your routine?
When we’re on charter, I always wake up at 5am, I love to get an early start.
The early morning offers the perfect time for Mise-en-Place. This is a french phrase that refers to the set-up that one needs to do before beginning to cool. This is the time for organizing ingredients, prepping for baking, cooking, sauces, etc.

4) What are your favorite things to do for kids while on charter?
Some charter favorites are:

  • Make your own pizza: this can be fun for various ages
  • Make your own cookies: this can involve a little cooking and baking if the kids are slightly older, or be as simple as decorating if they’re really small.

I find that it’s important to be flexible, things can change quickly on a charter, sometimes an afternoon of water activities can be cancelled due to rain, and some galley activities can save the day and be a lot of fun for the younger guests.

5) What are your favorite places to provision?
Every place in the world has something special, but I do have some favorite ones:

In Italy: While on the Mediterranean side, I love to get Italian porcini mushrooms, little wild strawberries, fresh as well as dried herbs, the juiciest most delicious tomatoes, cheeses of all kinds and of course wines.

In the Caribbean: St Maarten is my favorite place to shop for food in the Caribbean. It was a great blend of French / Dutch ingredients and offers lots of variety.

6) Do you ever practice for special dishes? Where do you get inspiration from?
I do practice, although the galley gets very busy while guests are onboard, when we have down time between charter groups I do like to experiment a little. Yard periods also offer a good time for exploration. And I draw lots of inspiration form Pinterest, I read quite a few culinary blogs, and I love perusing restaurant menus too.

7) What are your favorite restaurants?
Off the top of my head I love: 

  • MAHOGANY HOUSE in the Bahamas. 
    It’s in Lyford Cay, Nassau.
    I think they have the best mushroom soup in the world.
  • I also really like MARKET 17 in Fort Lauderdale. 
    It’s right by the 17th Street Bridge, next to the Convention Center.
    They have a very creative and unique menu.

8) You are so busy, when do you eat?
I taste the food I am cooking all the time, for me it’s the best way to check how a dish is turning out. I’m a snacker too. Because I spend most of my day cooking, I tend to have small meals throughout the entire day. However it can be a little strange to try certain foods at odd times of the day. So I may be working on a sauce for a meat or fish dish in the early morning, and I’d still try it even if it’s nor exactly a normal breakfast flavor.

9) What is your favorite food?
PASTA! And I always make my own! 
I love making ravioli, tortellini, pappardelle, and I love to add saffron, basil, spinach, etc.
I also love making my own ICE CREAM. I use a Paco Jet which is a micro pureeing machine that allows me to blend various frozen ingredients and it keeps them frozen which makes for delicious ice cream. Recently I have experimented with:
• Mango and fresh lemongrass
• Vanilla and truffle

10) A chef you admire?
Alain Ducasse, he’s a French / Monégasque chef who operates various well known restaurants (27!) like Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London which is a 3-Star Michelin Guide restaurant.

Any closing thoughts or words of wisdom…
—Never cook when you’re angry!
—Treat people the way you want to be treated.