I traded swanky, landscaped, plated meals for the pine-studded coast liberally sprinkled with lichen-covered granite and a sea that is ever changing from a smokey charcoal to deep forest green. My kitchen (galley) is outside and instead of being enclosed by four greasy walls lined with pots, pans and stainless equipment, I have pine tables, a cast iron wood stove and the smell of wood smoke. My skin has the kiss of the sun, rather than the pasty white of someone who works indoors, even in the summer.
However, as a chef, there are a few things that occasionally ding my pride. I’m a big girl, also an enthusiastic, optimistic one, so the moment doesn’t last long. But I cook on a boat all summer long and there are a number of situations that take priority over the visual attractiveness of my culinary hard work. Sometimes my food doesn’t look perfect and it bothers me.
For example, the reason this salad has so many apples on it is not that Cassie, my assistant cook, got crazy with the apples, although this is not out of the question. No, the true reason is that salad greens unprotected, literally, blow away with the first step on deck. We feed the fish, not our guests.
I love the look of micro-greens. Do I ever use these delicate beauties? No. I would be the only one to see them. See the blowing away reference above.
Also, the nature of my galley and the space available on any boat dictates that I serve family style. I don’t have space to plate up 30 dinners in my galley. Which means that sometimes my food is served in the pan in which it was cooked. Again, there is a rustic simplicity, and dare I say beauty, to this look. But no, beauty is not the word. Practical, useful, convenient, expedient, safe, frugal. These are the words I would use to describe my pans, but I tell you, a girl who wants to look pretty does NOT want to use these words and neither does the girl, who is the chef, who wants her food to look pretty.
The menu for lunch on the day these photos were taken was:
Local Porcini and Broccoli Leaf Mac n Cheese, Roasted Veggie and Local Italian Sausage Mac n Cheese, Garlic Knots, Apple, Walnut, Raisin Garden Greens Salad, Dijon and Champagne Vinaigrette and an Apricot Orange Pound Cake
It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? And then I look at these photos and I’m sad that they don’t do it justice. I remember this meal and I loved the Porcini and Broccoli Leaf Mac n Cheese… There was nothing left of this meal. But the look of it? The pans are … Hmm.
Ah well, at heart I am both creative, practical, artistic, and frugal. It turns out that my food on this beautiful boat we sail, meandering along the breathtaking Maine Coast, has the exact qualities of both me and of Maine. I’d rather be right where I am – in my outdoor kitchen, creating honest food that fits it’s place perfectly.
Just accepting what is