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Chartering a Yacht with the Chef in Mind

In the mood for crab cakes, seafood risotto, or crispy duck? Many book the megayacht Bon Bon just for chef Danny Escarment's cre

Danny Escarment, chef aboard the 122-foot motoryacht Bon Bon, is one of those hard-working success stories that makes you want to stand up and cheer. Or, at the very least, stand up and ask for seconds.

I met him in the summer of 2000, when he was the chef aboard a smaller, less luxurious charter yacht. He asked me whether I liked crab cakes, and I said yes, assuming his would be no different than the others I'd tried. Crab cakes, like mahi-mahi and key lime pie, are ubiquitous on charter yachts. Danny said his would be topped with mango sauce. Sounded like standard fare to me.

 

When I saw Danny again less than a year ago, serving that same crab cake recipe at a cocktail party aboard Bon Bon, I practically knocked the other guests to the ground in my beeline to the table. After indulging in what, I'm ashamed to say, was more than my fair share of the delicious creations, I walked over and gave him a big bear hug.

"I don't know if you remember," I gushed, "but you cooked these for me a few years ago. They're still the best I've ever had."

"Yes," he said with a broad grin, "people really seem to like them."

 The key to being a great charter-yacht chef is exactly that: cooking what the people aboard will enjoy, not necessarily what you like best. In the years I have followed Danny's career, he has excelled at doing just that. Even better - much to my personal pleasure and the delight of countless charter guests - his specialties are the kind of healthy indulgences that leave your soul full and your waistline slim.

The Haitian native got his start in the restaurant business as a dishwasher in Hollywood, Florida. A nose-to-the-grindstone type, he quickly moved up the line. The restaurant's owner saw his natural talent and sent him to the Sheridan International Culinary Arts Center for two years, after which he served as head chef at various restaurants in southern Florida.

A friend was so impressed, she recommended him for what he thought would be a one-day freelance job on a megayacht. "I made chicken Francaise for lunch, and they said, 'We're going for a sea trial,' and I got kidnapped," he recalled with a laugh. He stayed on the job with the owners for nearly a month.

Today, after working aboard several charter yachts of ever-increasing quality, Danny is one of the reasons guests aboard the $45,000-per-week Bon Bon become repeat customers. Not only are his preparations exquisite, but his personality is downright delightful - including his ability to welcome guests by speaking English, French, Spanish, or Creole.

"There are a lot of tough charter guests, but when it comes to my boat, believe me, everybody walks away happy," Danny said. "I haven't had a single complaint since I've been working in the charter industry."

A lot of chefs may say that, but with Danny, it's likely to be true. Charter guests and brokers alike rave about him and his food. A new offering drawing a lot of attention is his seafood risotto, made with lobster, scallops, shrimp, and a white wine/lemon sauce. Old favorites include duck and lamb, both of which I've sampled and enjoyed.

I asked Danny what his secrets were for the latter two dishes: "The seasoning is one thing. You've got to season your duck and let it sit overnight in the fridge, and roast it in the oven three and a half, four hours, at 250 degrees or so. Put the pan under the rack to collect the fat, and let the duck sit on the rack. It comes out moist and juicy, and you can eat the skin. It's very crispy. You see no fat whatsoever. Some people are surprised; they don't like duck because it's usually greasy. Not mine. I always encourage them to try it, and I have something else in case they don't want to eat the duck. It's become one of my guests' favorite dishes.

"The same with the lamb," he continued. "I use the same sauce for the lamb and duck, made of dried fruit, like cranberries and apricots, and some orange juice and some lemon juice. It's very good. Even I like it."

Perhaps someday Danny will fulfill his dream of opening his own restaurant in the Las Olas area of southern Florida, but for now, if you want to try his crab cakes, risotto or duck, you'll have to do so in New England or the Caribbean. That's where Bon Bon is available for charter.

 

To book a charter aboard Bon Bon with chef Danny Escarment, contact International Yacht Collection at (888) 213-7577; [email protected]; or www.yachtcollection.com.

 

Chef Danny's Recipes

Conch Fritter Sauce
1 C mayonnaise
3 T ketchup
juice of half lime
1/2 tsp Tabasco
Mix all ingredients well and enjoy!

Florida Stone Crab
Presented in a special manner and served with a key lime mustard sauce

Key Lime Mustard Sauce (serves 10)
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/4 C sour cream
2 tsp key lime juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tsp honey
2 tsp French's mustard
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp Tabasco
salt and white pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients well and refrigerate

More Stories By Kim Kavin

Kim Kavin is an award-winning writer, editor, and photographer whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Her more than ten years as a professional journalist include three as the executive editor of Yachting. She is currently the charter and cruising editor for Power and Motoryacht. Kim's work takes her around the globe to inspect boats and meet crew, all with an eye toward helping readers understand what they will get for their money when choosing a charter yacht or a cruising destination. Kim is an officer on the board of directors of Boating Writers International, a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, a graduate of the prestigious Dow Jones editing program, and an alumna of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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Most Recent Comments
news desk 08/13/06 02:59:38 PM EDT

Danny Escarment, chef aboard the 122-foot motoryacht Bon Bon, is one of those hard-working success stories that makes you want to stand up and cheer. Or, at the very least, stand up and ask for seconds.

SYS-CON Belgium News Desk 08/13/06 12:53:59 PM EDT

Danny Escarment, chef aboard the 122-foot motoryacht Bon Bon, is one of those hard-working success stories that makes you want to stand up and cheer. Or, at the very least, stand up and ask for seconds.

SYS-CON Italy News Desk 08/13/06 11:23:34 AM EDT

Danny Escarment, chef aboard the 122-foot motoryacht Bon Bon, is one of those hard-working success stories that makes you want to stand up and cheer. Or, at the very least, stand up and ask for seconds.