Question: What's a typical day like, for you?
Lisa Mead: My day starts at 5:30am in the galley, with the morning being the busiest time of day for me. Being on open waters, you never know how the day might pan out, especially when it comes to the weather, or change of plans that may mean longer time at sea.
I begin with prepping for our guests breakfast, whether that is made to order or buffet style. Everything is made from scratch, so we need time for our breads and pastries to rise, and we always ensure that we have a platter of fresh tropical fruit on hand. We create different cooked options such as frittata, buttermilk pancakes, toasted pecan nuts and fruit parfaits, to name a few. I aim to do as much prep in the morning as possible, to ensure we're ready for the day ahead.
After lunch we set sail for the next island, which sometimes leads to me being called to assist setting sail on deck. We normally get to our next destination an hour before lunch, which gives me time to help set the anchor with the crew. Then back into the galley to prep for lunch.
I like to bbq a lot as it is such a healthy way of eating, and as the majority of our guests are American, I find that they are big fans of the grill. We try to catch fresh fish off the yacht, so generally I will be filleting snapper or preparing lobster to go with fresh salads. The majority of my fruit and vegetables come from small farms on surrounding islands, so everything is super fresh. I also try to incorporate plenty of local flavours from whatever island I am visiting. If requested, I also make dessert after lunch, which is usually a type of slice, lemon bar, brownies, or homemade ice cream and sorbet – again all created using local fruit flavours such as guava berry and mango.
Once lunch is finished, if I have the time, I jump in with the guests and take them on a snorkeling tour over a nearby reef. Later in the afternoon, we set sail to our final destination for the day. If we are anchored off a deserted island, I like to create a platter of canapés that are paired with a bespoke cocktail for our guests to enjoy whilst watching the sunset.
Next up, it's prep for our 3-course dinner, which is usually a salad or soup for first course, followed by a seafood or meat dish, and finished with dessert. I like to create a menu that reflects different cuisines from around the world.
After dinner, I prep for any pastries I plan to serve for the next day, and finish with an intensive clean of the galley. The guests like to socialise with us, so I try to sit and chat with them, or we may even go ashore and dance to reggae music.
Question: Can you tell us about the show, Galley Gourmet with Chef Lisa?
Lisa Mead: This showcases the talented chefs of the British Virgin Islands. We film on location, which may be on a private luxury island, a super yacht, in luxury villas, restaurants and even from there side of the road, where we cook jerk chicken in steel drums. During the 30-minute episode I chat with guest chefs, as we create their favorite dish together. I also do episodes where I prepare and cook dishes on camera.
The idea for this show came about when I was cooking in the galley of a luxury yacht and watching the TV – which of course was on the cooking channel. It was here I realised that there weren't many cooking shows based on yachts, or showcasing Caribbean countries, so I decided to approach the local TV network, who loved the idea. Originally the show aired in the British Virgin Island, however now in its 8th season, it appears on tv screens across the US, Canada, South America and throughout the Caribbean.
Question: What originally inspired you passion for cooking?
Lisa Mead: I was lucky enough to spend part of my childhood living in Singapore. Whilst living there, we had a house chef named Ah Moy, who had been the chef for the British Consulate. Every meal she prepared for us was delicious and different. Ah Moy would make flowers and birds out of vegetables for my sister and I, along with teaching us how to cook simple meals. I would say both Ah Moy and my Mother, who went on to source new and creative meal ideas when we returned to Australia, each inspired my passion for cooking,
Question: What five ingredients could you not live without?
Lisa Mead: Butter
. Madagascar Vanilla
. Lyles Golden Syrup
Question: How can we create fast, fresh, and easy dishes at home?
Lisa Mead: Preparation is key. If you have time in the morning, I think it's always great to chop and your prepare ingredients, so that there are ready to go when you return home that evening. Source seasonal and local ingredients, as it's amazing what you can do when you have these things.
Create a relish as a side dish using fresh pineapple or mango, and buy local and fresh fish or meat to marinate during the day. You can also use a rub or blackened seasoning on your fish and meat, to cook on the bbq.
Or, if you are after something more filling, cook up some pearlised couscous or brown rice, and add in some roasted garlic, shredded carrot, brown lentils, and torn Italian flat leaf parsley. Include some fish glazed with mango chutney, or create a balsamic reduction for your meat.
There are so many quick and easy ways to create fast, fresh and most importantly delicious meals at home.
Question: Can you tell us about some of the highlights of your illustrious career?
Lisa Mead: Having the chance to see parts of the Caribbean and Mediterranean that many have never travelled to.
I've also had some really amazing times cooking for guest on board yachts. This has lead to me being serenaded by a famous singer, had the opportunity to meet very successful people including the President of RCA Records, and the Director of Global Reebok.
I've also won culinary competitions in the Caribbean, and have experienced great success with my cooking show, which has been a proud achievement of mine.
My career has also allowed me to create an Introduction to Cheffing on Yachts course, which I will begin teaching next year, and become internationally accredited.
It's also really nice to receive standing ovations after meals I've created for guests.
Question: What is it like working between Australia, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean?
Lisa Mead: When I have cheffed on yachts here in Australia, I have worked for wealthy successful business people who owned their own private yachts. The vibe in the beginning was quite conservative and structured, so I began introducing the style of chartering from the Caribbean. This included themed events and activities, which my clients loved. The food and locations in Australia are first class, and through my company www.divineyachtcharters.net I am encouraging my US and Canadian client base to visit our yachting industry here.
Caribbean chartering has a very relaxed vibe, gorgeous tropical islands, with crystal clear waters; however it can sometimes be tricky to source ingredients at less populated islands.
The Mediterranean is fast paced and includes more time spent on land. With activities most nights, we typically try to stay in a marina or port, as there are not a lot of comfortable places to let down anchor overnight. Here you will find stunning coastlines steeped in history, one minute you are in the South of France, and the next the Amalfi Coast. Local ingredients in the Mediterranean are outstanding and are juicy and full of flavour.
Interview by Brooke Hunter