Having started off as a fashion designer in California I was back in the UK checking the fashion shows in London one March when I noticed a job in the back of The Times newspaper. It lead me to a complete career change that I could not imagine would continue in the way it has… 20 yrs on I am still cooking onboard sailing boats sailing around the world.

Sailing was not a problem as I had been racing dinghies with my brother since I was 10 so I had no concerns about moving onto a sailing boat, and as for cooking well that is just something I grew to love and enjoy. My parents always cooked with the freshest produce they had grown, and always put interesting tasty healthy food on the table. Health has always been a very important factor at home and the influence rubbed off on me and becoming a vegetarian or as some would refer to me as a fishatarian I am really strict with my own diet and make sure that those I cook for always get healthy and tasty foods… with the odd chocolate dessert ! 

I started cooking onboard a 65ft sailing yacht, that was owned by a member of Pink Floyd, out in Rhodes, Greece. Having spent 2 years in California working as a designer I had been very fortunate to live in Berkeley and worked next door to Chez Panisse, Alice Walters’ restaurant. The French Laundry was down the road by the farmers market and of course San Francisco is just full of wonderful restaurants. It was an exciting period for not only myself but also with the food world whilst I was there and really it has not stopped… 

My summers were spent sailing and cooking around the Greek Islands and the Turkish coast, where I spent hours in local markets buying fresh produce to cook with, learning from the local people along the way to make sure I could make their traditional dishes, that I could use onboard. There was so much to learn from the ladies at the markets, then also from my adoptive mother a wonderful Greek lady whose son ran their restaurant with his American wife, and who have become like brother and sister to me as I then became godmother to their second son. I learnt so much from her, and her husband who is still putting fish on the BBQ each night. Their stories of how to find food during WW II was incrediable, and I wish I had been able to write it all down, instead of trying to memorise it.

We sailed further afield to Italy, France, Malta, Spain and then onto the Caribbean where we would cruise the islands with guests and owners alike. Another area where I learnt from the women in the markets and used local produce as much as I can. We toured the islands, snorkeled on the reefs, sailed around the islands and now as I look back on those days realise how lucky I was as now we sail so fast from island to island that there appears to be no time to tour an island, lie on a beach, snorkel in the reefs as we have guests on for longer periods, and we give  a much more professional service onboard the 45m than I did on a 20m !

I travelled to places I probably would never have been if not onboard a yacht, and to have sailed down the Red Sea, visited Egypt, Sudan and Yemen along the way was incrediable. Now however there would be no chance of visiting Yemen on a trip through the Red Sea, those days are gone…

But as for me I still cook onboard sailing yachts and remain content in my job which is somewhat hectic once the season starts. Cooking takes over whilst the sunshines and I love it, learning day by day, trying out new recipes I find online, in magazines, from friends or just experimenting with what I have tried before. Having now worked for the family for 10 years I know their likes and dislikes, but can play around with what I know so they can try different things out, but for sure chocolate is one ingredient that cannot be missed ! 

Follow me on my travels with Saudade, our guests, our race crew around the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas and enjoy …