How to provide first-class epicurean service onboard a luxury yacht? Chef Sergio Marichales tells us how
When you’re invited on board a luxury yacht, there are a few certainties – the service will be impeccable, the views out of this world and the food nothing short of spectacular. I recently spent time on board the Sunseeker 116ft yacht Lost Boys and while all of the above items were ticked off (and many more), the food deserves extra attention. That’s thanks to chef Sergio Marichales – a Venezuelan luxury yacht and private chef with a unique eye for creating mouthwatering dishes, utilising locally sourced ingredients and presenting them in his own signature style. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Sergio to discuss his process and how he provides first-class epicurean service on luxury yachts to such a varied audience.
A key ingredient to any trip is location, location, location. While spending time in a new locale, you want to ensure you’re sourcing the local flavour and colours too. “Being local is about geography and also a great part of being in the yachting industry,” Marichales explains. “As we get to travel around the world, we get to source some amazing seafood, which I try to incorporate into my dishes. I also like to go to local markets and try different produce and amazing fruit, because I think it’s important to have the chance to research and know what is in season for any given trip.”
Any other secrets for securing the freshest products? “For me, I like to meet the local fishermen; they can bring you the catch of the day right to the boat. I can get a delivery by 3pm and then incorporate it into the dinner menu for 8pm, serving it as fresh from source to table as possible.”
And in today’s world of numerous diets, food allergies and restrictions, how does he adjust the menu to satisfy everyone on board? “It usually comes down to the likes and dislikes of the client first,” he tells me. “While you have the star dish that goes pretty well with any diet and style, adaptation is always the most important, while simultaneously not giving away quality or flavour.” This is something Marichales has had plenty of experience with – adding and subtracting ingredients based on the preference of the client without compromising on nutrients, taste or presentation.
While The Bahamas is fantastic on its own, I recommend pairing such a holiday with a visit to the east coast of Florida as a starting or stopping point, as it provides for very different cuisines. For Marichales, it’s about the contrast between the two. “The Bahamas is known for great staples like conch salad and fritters, rice and peas, fresh snapper and amazing lobster. If you add this to the amazing weather almost all year round you will know why the tropics are characterised by fresh and light cuisine.”
However, when compared with Florida, he sees plenty of alternatives to the Bahamian penchant for fresh seafood. “While some of the same flavour profiles are shared in the east coast of Florida, there are also many characteristics of the south, like coleslaw, mac and cheese and grits, while also adding the Latin influences and immigration that has made the south of Florida a hub of cultures. From the fresh ceviche of Peru, rice and beans of the Cubans, to the pork and meat dishes, the cuisine in Florida is well influenced by these flavours and the array of products available.”
Having emigrated to Miami, the place has a special place in Marichale’s heart. “Food in Florida has a varied taste and plenty of soul to it. Being raised in a place like Miami definitely makes me feel grateful about the flavours that I got to experiment with while at school and while working around the south of Florida.” Having been lucky enough to taste some of Marichales’ famous dishes, I can honestly say he brings that heart and soul to every dish.