Cellar & Galley
A chef And A master sommelier serve up the perfect pairings.
‘Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.” That quote, from imperious food critic Anton Ego in the Pixar culinary cartoon “Ratatouille,” is ingrained in the soul of Michael Creighton, chef on the 130-foot [39.6meter] Westport Aphrodite.
Creighton moved with his family from Boston to southern Alaska at age 8. It was his parents’ intention to start an organic vegetable farm. By age 10, he was cooking regularly for his family of eight.
“I told my mother—an incredible chef—that I wanted to learn how to cook,” Creighton recalls. “She said, ‘First you need to learn about growing food.’ It wasn’t until years later that I understood the importance of that.”
Creighton is interested in farm-to-table cuisine because fresh food means subtle flavors combining well. He doesn’t like to cook with, say, a lot of butter, because its flavor overwhelms a dish.
“But take a carrot, for example,” he says. “You can grow a carrot in two completely different fields, and the unique qualities of each field will render the carrot’s taste dramatically.”
Creighton joined the yachting industry at the urging of his older brother, a yacht captain. Creighton had attended a vegan culinary school in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, schooling that he downplayed so as not to be pegged as a “vegan chef.” But the industry trend of healthy living suited his arsenal of expertise, especially macrobiotic cuisine (based on the theory that the body prefers foods that grow naturally in the local ecosystem). He credits macrobiotic expert—and at one time pop singer Madonna’s personal chef—Mayumi Nishimura as one of his inspirations, and has cooked for the actor Owen Wilson.
“I was on Maui in Willie Nelson’s bar having a few beers and Owen Wilson was there,” he says. “We start chatting. It turns out he’s into macrobiotics, too. The next day, he invites me out to dinner and I’m like, ‘Why don’t I just cook?’ So he has all of his friends and me over to his house and I make dinner. It was wonderful.”
Like most experienced charter chefs, Creighton is proficient in many cuisines, but he wastes no time naming Japanese as a specialty.
Chef Michael Creighton M/Y Aphrodite