James Wright

122-fOOt (37.4-meter) San Lorenzo Awol in­ter­na­tional Yacht Col­lec­tion char­ter fleet

Yachts International - - A Cellar & Galley Special -

Twenty-seven-year-old James Wright, a first-time en­trant in the MYBA Su­pery­acht Chefs’ Com­pe­ti­tion, de­scribes his culi­nary predilec­tion as fresh Mediter­ranean, or let­ting sea­sonal food speak for it­self. On oc­ca­sion, he draws in­spi­ra­tion from his South African roots. Grow­ing up in Cape Town, he cooked with his grand­mother and his mother, who had a cater­ing com­pany for cor­po­rate clients. (“I helped her prep and pre­tended I knew what I was do­ing,” Wright says.) While work­ing to­ward a de­gree in mar­ket­ing man­age­ment, he took cook­ing classes. Food prepa­ra­tion was an av­o­ca­tion; his fa­ther and brother, both in fi­nance, en­cour­aged him to fol­low in their foot­steps. He in­stead went off to see the world and landed a job as a deck­hand on a 154-foot (47-meter) Turkish gulet, and he has spent the bet­ter part of the past five years work­ing on yachts, at­tend­ing culi­nary classes and cook­ing for pri­vate villa clients.

What was the big­gest chal­lenge with the com­pe­ti­tion? the judges were di­verse, rang­ing from fourth-gen­er­a­tion, old-school french cui­sine to new age health food ad­vo­cates. i wanted to get the right bal­ance in my dishes to ap­peal to all tastes.

De­scribe a cou­ple of your canapés. on the sa­vory side, i made a mush­room and goat cheese arancini served on a fresh tomato sauce and a fried basil leaf. For a sweet, I made a tra­di­tional Afrikaans milk tart, which is a sweet pas­try filled with vanilla- and cin­na­mon-fla­vored cus­tard: sim­ple, but al­ways a big hit. What was the strangest food re­quest you ever re­ceived? i had a break­fast or­der for a sin­gle hard-boiled egg yolk. I thought the stew­ardess was pulling my leg, but it was a gen­uine re­quest.

What is the cra­zi­est thing that’s hap­pened while you were cook­ing? I was work­ing at a ho­tel restau­rant and we ran out of gas 15 min­utes be­fore din­ner, and we had to turn three of the seven cour­ses into cold dishes.

If you were cook­ing for prince harry and meghan, duchess of sus­sex, what would be your main course? The main pro­tein com­po­nent of the meal would be South African-in­spired duqqa-en­crusted kudu fil­let.

What key spices DO you keep On hand? I al­ways have flash-frozen fresh thyme and peeled gar­lic.

What is your fa­vorite time Of Day in the gal­ley? I like the time in be­tween the main din­ner course and dessert. The pres­sure is off, and then I can re­lax into know­ing I have achieved my goals of the day.

What’S your hid­den tal­ent? I used to play sax­o­phone in a jazz band from the age of 10 to 18.

if you Were not a Chef, What would you be? I would be a pi­lot.

above and clock­wise: Chef Wright and stew­ardesses aboard Awol; Oys­ters with Cham­pagne sor­bet; Choco­late and pis­ta­chio samosa with sweet tahini sauce; Con­fit duck taco with spicy may­on­naise.

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