I am a chef. Currently, I am the head chef on SY Aquijo, the world's largest ketch. We are sailing around the world. (https://y.co/yacht/Aquijo)
I didn’t become a chef in the traditional way. I never really had any interest in cooking professionally. All you hear in the media these days be it professional Masterchef or bake off, is how everybody loves cooking and how everyone has been passionate about it since day 1. This is not my case although this is what I have been telling people, at first to cover my lack of experience and later because I realised that, that is what people want to hear, in the same way that you reply “I'm fine” to “how are you?” when you are asked about cooking you have to weave this poetic illusion of how you became a chef, how you were already experimenting with molecular gastronomy whilst still in the womb and how you’ve always had a burning passion for all things culinary but now that you’ve matured you have realised that it’s all about the ingredients and that less is more. Mother nature is the true artist. Thank you Marco.
So how did I become a chef? Short answer; I lied on my CV. 11 years ago when I first started working on yachts I quickly realised that chefs make a lot more money than deckhands, so after my second year working on a 30m motor yacht as a deckhand/steward/cook I fluffed up my CV and before I knew it I was being flown to New York for 7 days, to cook with the personal chef of a NY socialite in her penthouse overlooking Central Park.
At this stage I really did not realise how little I knew about cooking, I had worked in restaurants, mostly as KP or dishwasher, I worked as a waiter once and I hated it. I had been the ‘head chef’ of a kitchen in a bar in Canada. Mostly opening boxes and packets and assembling the two together, somewhat like IKEA cooking. I was good at that job, ‘one of the best’ but that’s not much of an accolade at that level. I did not know the world of pain I was about to enter.
The chef in NY (Michel Paris) was onto me straight away, even though one of the first things he said to me was ‘Chris, I want you to forget everything you know about cooking’ I could only use this defence for so long. I was useless, I didn’t even know the basics, like how to hold my knife properly or tell different herbs apart, realising what an error he had made by flying me to NY and how it would reflect on him he decided to make me his pet project. He recognised that I had the ability and the right attitude, all I needed was direction, he bought me a culinary textbook and trained me personally. I will always be in his debt. Thank you Chef. I would like to repay the favour one day.