cel­lar & gal­leY a char­ter chef and a mas­ter som­me­lier serve up the per­fect pair­ings

M/Y Frisky Lady

Yachts International - - Contents -

Through­out his ca­reer, chef Daniele Messina has made carpe diem an un­spo­ken mantra. While most of his col­leagues be­gan their ca­reers by at­tend­ing renowned culi­nary schools, Messina, chef on the 112-foot (34.1-me­ter) West­port Frisky Lady, be­gan by wash­ing dishes—the quick­est way he could get into restau­rants and fol­low the pas­sion he’d felt even as a child.

“I was al­ways stand­ing on a kitchen chair to watch what was hap­pen­ing on the stove,” the na­tive Ital­ian re­calls. “I re­mem­ber the smells … the pasta, the herbs, even the boil­ing wa­ter. I would tell my mom if there was too much or not enough salt just from the smell of the wa­ter.”

Messina’s par­ents pre­ferred for him to study bank­ing in­stead of cook­ing, but he en­rolled in a few culi­nary cour­ses in Mi­lan for fun. He found his way to Spain and took a job wash­ing dishes at an Ital­ian restau­rant in the Ca­nary Is­lands. It was a foot in the door. Then, things started hap­pen­ing.

“One day, we were down a man in the kitchen,” he re­calls. “My boss asked if I could help with sal­ads.”

Thrilled to do some­thing be­sides wash dishes, he jumped at the op­por­tu­nity. But at the end of the day, it was back to the dish room.

“An­other day, our pizza guy left. My boss asked if I could do pizza. I’m like, ‘I’m Ital­ian—of course I can make a pizza.’”

Messina’s big break fi­nally came on a day when the restau­rant was closed.

“I was al­ways first in, last out,” he says. “I’d wake up and head straight to the restau­rant to start the daily prepa­ra­tions. On this day, a fam­ily came by look­ing for pasta. I said, ‘I’m sorry, we’re closed.’ They asked if I could cook, so I made them pasta. They loved it so much they raved to the owner, and that was it. He fi­nally said, ‘Okay, okay … no more dish­wash­ing. You’re a chef.’”

Messina suf­fered a mo­tor­bike ac­ci­dent and ended up at an­other restau­rant, seiz­ing an­other op­por­tu­nity. He worked for a French chef and learned about slow cook­ing, sous vide and desserts. His zest for travel then took him to Sint Maarten, where he opened a few restau­rants of his own.

And, as one tends to do on a Caribbean is­land, he spent a lot time look­ing to the wa­ter.

“I’d see these huge boats com­ing and go­ing,” he says, “so one day I was like, Maybe it’s time to hop on one and see the world.”

Messina trained to be­come a qual­i­fied yacht chef and, after work­ing a few free­lance jobs, landed a full-time po­si­tion on a 97-foot mo­to­ry­acht in Turkey. While work­ing on a boat was dif­fer­ent and harder than what he’d ex­pected, he fell in love with the life­style.

“Wow, so dif­fer­ent,” he says. “You have to pro­duce food to the same stan­dards as a top restau­rant, but you’re do­ing it all by your­self—even the clean­ing. It’s funny in a way. You spend so much time over a ca­reer learn­ing how to be a top chef. You make it onto a boat and it’s back to things like dishes. In char­ter it all looks so easy and fan­tas­tic, but be­hind the scenes, it re­quires a ton of hard work by the crew. You can’t be here to feed your ego; you’re here to feed your guests. I love that part of the job.”

The owner of Frisky Lady has tastes that mesh with Messina’s train­ing in Western Europe, he says.

“The owner is re­ally food ori­ented and health con­scious,” he says. “He’s into Mediter­ranean cuisine.”

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