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If you were a chef on a yacht in the mediterranean, what cookbook would you take?

A friend of mine just got a gig as a chef on a yacht in the mediteranian (i'll hate on him later :)) and he's got a delimma...while the yacht is bigger than my apartment, his space within it is limited to a bed and closet....he's a seasoned chef with 10 years of experience, but with limited space, his cookbook resources are finite and, since he'll often be at sea, online resources are sketchy as well. Do cd-rom cookbooks exist? If so, are there any great cookbooks that have put them out?
Finally, since he does have some space, what best all-purpose cookbooks would you recommend for him?

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  1. For whom will he be cooking? Will he need an emphasis, for instance, on French, Italian, or Spanish?

    There are very few cookbooks available on cd-rom and none I can think of that would be appropriate under the circumstances. If it were up to me, I'd bring the big yellow Gourmet cookbook. It has a tremendous selection of well-tested recipes from all cultures and all of the ones I've tried, perhaps two dozen so far, have been terrific.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      The boat is owned by one family, though it is rented out -along with its crew- throughout the season. Ports of call will most likely be spain, france, italy and north africa...
      It's funny, I also recommend the gourmet cookbook, as its a really great all-purpose, well-tested book. It's a bummer about CD-Roms, as the more i thought of it, the more i realized how great it would be to have both digital copies and better organization via the computer....post-it notes only go so far...

      1. re: JoanN

        Maybe a Patricia Wells Cookbook but the computer is your biggest friend..
        What a great gig..

      2. a chef of ten years does not require a cookbook. a reference book, perhaps. "silver spoon" would be my recommendation. it's been out in english for a few years now.

        3 Replies
        1. re: steve h.

          "Cuisine Rapide" by Pierre Franey. It's old, but all the recipes work perfectly and are wonderfully simple classics. Plus, none of them are so complicated that you couldn't make them in a limited space.

          1. re: SSqwerty

            it's all good.
            deb and i have sailed lots of places. bottom line? catching fish and cooking up stuff on the stern in the ec was the best. very hard to describe. very easy to cook and eat.

          2. re: steve h.

            maybe not so much a cookbook, but an idea book (plus recipes for pastries ) is what he's looking for....i think even the best chefs would find it difficult to come up with new ideas when serving 3 meals a day for 6 months..

          3. "timing is everything"

            he doesn't need recipes, just a reference

            1. I personally wouldn't take a books. I rely on my computer more and more. A laptop is all I need. I would do a lot of pre-planning so I would have what I wanted installed and I would not be conting on an internet connection.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Docsknotinn

                Holy typos! Yikes. I'm not sure if I need more coffee or less.

                1. re: Docsknotinn

                  giggle. Didn't this site used to have spell check? My computer died last month, did they change something while I was gone?

              2. There was a great book that dealt with this stuff that came out a while ago--it may be out of print, but who knows--The Yachting Cookbook by Elizabeth Wheeler and Jennifer Trainer from Crown. Had tips on how to store food on board in addition to some really good recipes.

                1. It is very hard to judge as it's not clear how supplies will be sustained (at each port, fishing?), what equipment is available, and what the tastes of the clients are. Despite this I'll suggest a Japanese cookbook as fish (and seaweed) are central to this cuisine and the techniques are less well known vis Italian and French, and Madhur Jaffreys "World of the East Vegetarian Cookbook" as it is my overall favorite cookbook.

                  1. If he's a real chef, when he gets to each port of call, what he finds in the local markets and can buy off the boats will dictate what he cooks, not what's in a book. If I hired on a chef for my yacht and caught him using cookbooks, I'd make him walk the plank.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: HSBSteveM

                      really? have you ever tried to bake without a cookbook? i'm of the belief that everyone needs reference resources...chefs- even real ones- have the internet and sources like chowhound and epicurious to help us along ....i don't know one chef who could construct 450+ meals without referencing some source.

                      1. re: sixelagogo

                        I hear you. I don't bake, which takes away a lot of need for precise recipes. But your point is well made.

                        1. re: sixelagogo

                          uhhh yeah i can and have. as others have said look at the local stuff. Guess i qualify as a "real" Chef.

                          Anyways, the market should dictate, not a cookbook.

                      2. If the region and its ingredients and cuisines were new to me I might want to look for books which focus on mediterranean taste combos and ingredients - some of Paula Wolfert's books, for example (for Morroccan, SW France, Eastern Mediterranean). or Rosemarie Barron or Kochilas for Greek food would get a cook beyond the obvious.

                        1. Mediterranean Summer is an account of a guy who did just this, and might be a good read before he goes:

                          1. A classic, James Beard's New Fish Cookery. So much seafood, so little time. And hit the tavernas, tapas bars, bistros, trattorias, cafe's, etc., etc., Need a deck hand?

                            1. I wouldn't cook in the Mediterranean without
                              Italian Food, and also
                              Mediterranean Food,
                              by Elizabeth David.

                              The recipes are inventive and concise, and really useful when you grab some goodies from the port markets.


                              1. All these suggestions for Mediterranean and seafood cookbooks are good but...well, it's possible this is a personal problem but after I had been in South-East Asia for a month, what I wanted more than anything was Italian food (luckily you can get some very fine Italian delivery in Hanoi) and after two months in India, the last thing I wanted was more Indian food. After a few months of eating fish freshly caught off the side of the boat and prepared with the freshest ingredients the Mediterranean region has to offer, your friend might find that what his employers really want is some greasy Chinese take-out (even people with yachts and chefs and yachts with chefs on them eat greasy Chinese take-out sometimes, don't they?)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Mr. Eaty

                                  I totally agree with ya mr. eaty....while the flavors may not be local, the food still could be. The family who owns the yacht is British and really into southeast asian flavours so this will definatly be part of his repetoir...

                                2. Funnily, I don't at all think of fish when I think of the Mediterranean; most of the big fish have been fished out, and you are left with the small stuff or the farmed stuff.

                                  First thing that comes to my mind WRT to that area is gorging on fresh in-season local fruits, which I would expect to be served at most every meal. I suggest a simple idea book to dress up fresh fruits for desserts. I have Jacques Pepin's Sweet Simplicity: Fruit Desserts, which may be a bit basic for his needs, but I think the idea is worth investigating. There is probably a better book out there.

                                  1. If your friend understands French, there's a great CD compilation of 3,000 "fiches-cuisine" (recipes with photos) from Elle magazine. www.ciao.fr/3000_Recettes_de_ELLE_Ens...

                                    Clifford Wright's monumental *A Mediterranean Feast* would be an interesting choice among printed books: 500+ mostly solid recipes from all around the Mediterranean plus pages on the history of the region and its food traditions.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: carswell

                                      I have Joy of Cooking on cd-rom. I just checked amazon and seems it's still available. Maybe between that and whatever cookbook(s) he chooses he'll be set.

                                    2. I had been a yacht chef for 20 years based out of Ft Laud and with many summers spent in the Med I can tell you that all you will need is The Joy of Cooking. If you are not already familar with the foods in that region it will come to you very quickly once you are there. Every once in a while you'll not be able to find something like Baking Powder and my choice of cook book will help you reference it and a substitute. He best learn the art of provisioning befor he goes.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: szrule

                                        Take his 20 favorite books, get little yellow marker strips, and mark the 200-300 favorite recipes - a useful mix - sauces, breads, desserts, Italian/Greek/North African .. then go down to Kinkos, Xerox them, punch 'em and stuff them into a 3 ring binder. What's with this one cookbook obsession? Or if he wants them on CD rom, scan them instead and burn them to a CD.

                                        1. re: grant.cook

                                          There was a local cookbook not many copies but it was A Caribbean Compilation of Contemporary Cuisine and a Culinary Course . tI had dishes all regarding seafood and books from the Islands, not just in the Carribean but all in the Mediterranean and any where he sailed. All over the world. Lots of variations from seafood to greed and spanish inspired dishes to french and some from Costa Rica and many others areas of the world. 10 years of travel with many inspired dishes. Not just seafood. But seafood inspired. He tried to use many fresh spices from the area and fresh ingredients. Simple and natural. Ever dish was 10 or less ingredients but usually simpler yet which I love. Grilled or baked. Probably one of the few books I have. I don't really like cookbooks, I have a few and have borrowed a few but never really use them. I cook from the heart and from what I enjoy. I've tried, but never happy with results. And I have tried some of the best, but mine was always better in mine and my friends opinions. I've tested and never been successful. So I rely on instinct to cook. But I like his philosophy, cooking in banana leaves even on the grill, several simple cooking ideas which make food great with little herbs or ingredients.

                                        2. re: szrule

                                          I totally agree. I have cooked aboard various vessels and never left home without my copy of the old Joy of Cooking. Beyond that, just ideas for times when he doesn't have a clue what to make. Local markets will be important. It won't be long before he gets an idea of what his "guests" like to eat, even if they don't tell him. Which they will.

                                        3. I just got a kindle to take with me to Egypt this summer, and I have noticed that you can buy a ton of cookbooks for the kindle. I would get a kindle and then you can always have books to read as well as cookbooks to cook from. I'm beginning to think that it's the traveler's best friend!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: roxlet

                                            the kindle answers are spot on! He can also read the paper and magazines on it.

                                          2. Kindle kindle kindle!!!! And then tell him to get his hands on all the recipes he wants from online, and put them on the kindle!!! Also, he can gain access to stuff through the cell network. So yeah, out to see, internet and cell coverage spotty, still, the Kindle will hold WAY loads of recipes, AND books! (can you tell I love my Kindle ;D)

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Morganna

                                              I was also going to mention my friend gets many recipes from friends online also traveling and get local recipes. He forwards many to me which I love. Cook books, he has never used and me ... rarely, but he does get amazing recipes online or through email which I think is amazing.

                                            2. A pressure cooker cookbook. Apparently pressure cookers are very popular amongst boat owners and their cooks.

                                              1. having lived on a boat....you can't emphasize the space issue enough.

                                                I would see if there's a way to get the 97 Joy on CD-Rom -- it gets pilloried a lot, but it also has a lot of really good recipes for a LOT of world cuisines -- appetizers, main dishes, and pastries/desserts. While it's not the end-all, it's sure a good framework to use in conjunction with what's on offer at local markets, as I'm guessing he'll be primarily cooking for a North American audience, so recipes with a North American perspective are a good base.

                                                Then he can pick up tips and recipes from the food vendors (they're generally VERY knowledgeable about their products and are happy to give advice) and some local cookbooks as he travels (usually small-format and fairly thin) to supplement the basic framework.