Chef: Interviewing Chef Rachela Borrelli
Which part of the world do you come from? I come from Cerignola a small town in Southern Italy near Foggia. I grew up there and I’m now living in Fano. How did you get acquainted with the sea? Curiosity basically, after having worked in restaurants and hotels for more than twenty years, I felt a sincere need to change, to try something new, something more while experiencing stimulating experiences and new challenges. Your training? I went to a Hotelier and catering school and then went on acquiring experience in the field. I took part in several upgrading courses aimed at developing special areas. I believe the best training is gained when you are curious, travel and are sensitive. Which are your earliest recollections about cooking and catering? They go back to the times I lived in the family, where we always used to try eating in the healthiest possible way by using top quality products which we produced in house since we had a farm.this entailed first pick on everything from sowing to harvesting which included fruit and vegetables, as well as homemade oil and wine.to put it in a nutshell I’d say we were accustomed to eating healthy and well. Your initial experiences at sea? My first contract goes back to a 35 metre yacht 10 years ago. It began almost like a game which rapidly evolved into my life style. Preceding experiences prior to this one? Well following the first one, I worked on a charter yacht flying the Italian ensign.then I moved on to several other yachts, in the course of time I stepped on board of Rarity on which I have now been working for four years with much job satisfaction. The owners appreciate what I do and I get along well with them. According to you which are the main differences between running a kitchen ashore as opposed to doing the same on board of a superyacht? Basically there are two main differences: first and foremost space and equipment. On board space is decidedly less when compared to any restaurant on land. Secondly the kitchen staff. On land the number of people assisting the chef are more, whereas this does not happen at least on yachts of this size. I do everything myself. To do this you must be able to possess and implement your organizational skills. Cooking on board is decidedly exciting even daring in a sea way. Sometimes, you really have to make the most of every little available space, and the crew’s help is fundamental in the serving phase. Which are Rarity’s galley main features? Firstly size, it’s on the small size, but after a couple of seasons I got used to it and I can now really work well. I can count on top level equipment from multi function ovens which can steam cook as well and can handle vacuumed products also.there’s a very useful blast chiller, highly evolved fridges and babercue grills too. Favourite recipe? I haven’t really got a favourite one, also because creating dishes is an on going thing which evolves all the time. I believe that “cuisine” also means trying things out every time you can, so curiosity and desire to experiment are fundamental ingredients, a kind of art in other words. I enjoy going over classic dishes or rather I mean re-inventing them in terms of presentation and even in the preparation sequence sometimes. For example the cake I have just prepared is an off shoot of a classic “tiramisù” which is presented in a plain chocolate bowl like recipient I made earlier with “mascarpone” zabaglione (egg based cream), crunchy wafer with puffed rice, honey and a “garnis” made up of the season’s wild berries on top. Here, on board of Rarity,we do everything in house from bread to kneading flour to produce a variety of pasta.i enjoy being creative, that’s why I prefer to cook starters and cakes which leave ample space for enhanced creativity. What “cuisine”do you prefer to go for and with which ingredients? Tendency, yes strong tendency “cuisine” it’s a new thing which we’re currently still discovering and experimenting in small numbers, and we use marine plankton in recipes.this natural product can be deployed in many different ways, it’s highly versatile and can unleash your fantasy: it blends well with “risotto”, a variety of sauces, several side dishes and more. It is an outstanding resource, it seems to change flavour according to how it is prepared. You can easily imagine you’re eating fish, algae, or even a lobster or shellfish...it’s very interesting and amusing too. Obviously the interpretation is personal. Its taste clearly reveals where it comes from, it’s a strong one but it is also smooth.to me it tastes good and I liked it immediately. Which “cuisine” do you prefer, between the one you do for the owner and his guests or the one
you do for charter parties? There’s decidedly more freedom in the menu dedicated to charter parties. There’s a preference listing to follow, but you are free to invent and change while respecting core dishes. Whether it be a charter party for just a week or a month – no matter you have to propse different dishes all the time, and to astonish every time. On the other hand with the owner and guests things are quieter. At the beginning of the season I draw up a list of the more trendy dishes, but during the day to day I propose dishes the owners and guests enjoy with nothing “Quixotic” about them. From time to time I deliver something which to them is unusual. When the owners organize seated dinners with guests, things get to be very different, in those cases I must astonish them all, which I find very amusing, and gives me great satisfaction. Your worst experience as Chef? Come to think of it, it makes me smile still. I remember more a special guest, a VIP or famous person with whom I was discussing the details of a menu. Anyway, one afternoon we were deciding on the menu for that same night which consisted in a series of very elaborate dishes which included shellfish, lobsters and every other delicacy. Every one was comfortably seated, there were many guests, but the lady hosting the dinner is not speaking, and is there just looking at me while I’m intent on explaining what dishes are about to be brought up to the table....well she gets up without saying a word turns about and goes ashore with her children and body guards. One of them came up to me in the galley area and enquired, away from ear shot as to what, had I ever done... After an hour and a half the shore party returned, and I was beside myself and asked her happened, and what went wrong.“Nothing” – is what she said, and went on to say:“i just felt like taking a stroll”. Where do you find ship’s stores, fresh products and out of the ordinary ingredients that are required to prepare your dishes? In the ports we stop over, I always seek out the most typical stores where I choose things based firstly on how they smell, and the what they look like. In italy there is no problem, the quality is very high and the choice is vast. In France for example, like in Greece, Croatia, and Montenegro it is difficult to find products of the same level as in Italy, as they often fall short of every expectancy.therefore finding capable and reliable suppliers becomes a necessity and is the obvious solution.we use diverse efficient companies accustomed to provide for yachts. We’ve always found Plus Marine very helpful and equally resourceful. Filadelfio, Marie and the boys have never let us down, even during high season they have always delivered the ”impossible” in record time, and the quality I request for megayachts.