Thursday, December 21, 2006

This is what the lamb should look like before going in the oven

Well i'm sure you are all looking forward to your turkey this Christmas but if like me you are sick of the sight of it and want to try something different this year why not try this beautiful herb and green olive stuffed leg of lamb. It's really easy, so easy a 10 year old could make. As if that wasn't enough it's full of flavour and really cheap. A wonderful alternative to the usual turkey!!

1 leg of lamb (1.5/2kg)
Large bunch of thyme
Rock slat
Black pepper
300grams good quality green olives
1 bulb garlic
50ml olive oil

1.In a food processor you need to blend up the olives, thyme leaves, salt, pepper and the peeled cloves of garlic and the oil.
2. Take the lamb and using a knife make some 2 cm incisions into the meat. They need to be big enough to fit your small finger into.
3.In the 10 incisions stuff the mix of olives into the holes evenly.
4.Place the Lamb on a tray and into the oven. If you enjoy it pink you will need to cook it for 55 minutes on 180. If you want ti well done, cook for 75 minutes at 180.
5. Take out of the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

It is best served with some mashed potatoes and vegetables but also good with cous cous, polenta or even sliced into some nice foccacia. I told you it was easy, bet you didn't think it would be that easy!!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ok we're back in business

Leaving the boat for a night out

Well sorry for the lack of posts for the last few days but have actually had to sort a few things out on the site but i can assure you we are back up and running and at full speed now!! It was a bit of a hectic weekend in st maarten and we partied for most of our time there as the pictures will testify!!
Look at the size of that glass!!

There really are some great bars, clubs and restuarents there and it has done the bank balance and body some good getting out of there! we left on Monday morning and have sailed down to Grenada and are here now waiting for our next charter guests to arrive. We have a 2 week charter which will stretch through Christmas an new year so when you are all sitting there enjoying the turkey and lots of drinks with the family think of me sweating it out here in The Caribean!
All i did was buy them a drink!!!

Well i better go as we are all heading out for a crew dinner and some pre Xmass drinks! I will be posting agaian before Xmass but for those of you heading off Having a wonderul holiday period, thank you for your support so far and hope you keep supporting in the new year!!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Banana Bread

If you have some bananas that look like this in the larder then you need to make this banana bread!

If you have a few bananas sitting around the kitchen that you have been meaning to use but have gone past the yellow stage and are soft and brown then why not use them to make this beautiful banana bread instead of wasting them and throwing them out!

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup of flour

Now the best thing about this is that it is so simple! All you do is mash the bananas up with the melted butter until a smooth paste, then simply add all the other ingredients into a large mixing bowl and using a wooden spoon bring it together until smooth.

When mixed and poyred into the tin it should look like this!

You need to pre heat the oven to 350/180. Pour the mix into a greased oaf tin and bake for one hour. If you are not sure if it's cooked insert a cocktail stick into the middle of the loaf and remove, if it is clean when it comes out it's cooked. Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack for 20 minutes!! Thats it, sloce it and enjoy it!! So so easy!

If all goes well you should be looking at something like this now

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Creme Caramel for Lance Armstrong

The 7 time tour de France winner fancied something sweet

I was working on a boat when Lance came to a party quite late and wanted something sweet. Creme caramel is a very easy dessert to make and shouldn't cause even the most inexperienced cook any problems! Tastes great though so try it out on your friends or family!!

1 c. sugar
5 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
3 c. milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Butter 8 (6 ounce) custard cups. In small skillet over medium heat, melt 1/2 cup sugar, stirring until it is a light brown syrup. Pour syrup into buttered cups. Place cups in shallow baking pan for easy handling. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In large bowl with mixer at low speed, beat eggs, salt, and 1/2 cup sugar until lemon-colored. Gradually beat in milk and vanilla extract. Pour mixture in cups; put hot water in pan to within 1 inch of top of cups; bake 1 hour until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks; refrigerate; with knife, loosen custard from cups and invert onto plates, the juices will make a natural sauce. garnish with some fresh cream and a few seasonal berries.

If it's good enough for one of the greatest sportsmen of all time it's good enough for you!!!!

Grilled vegetables with carpaccio of beef

A nice light dish perfect for lunch

You can't eat anything better than grilled vegetables and a well made carpaccio of beef in my opinion. I love making something like this on a summer's day and eating it al fresco with a nice glass of white wine and some crispy bread! You always hear chefs talking about using the best ingredients and that is especailly true here. Selecting a good olive oil, excellent quality beef and only the freshest vegetables are essetial to making this dish work. Once you've done that you wont really need much time to prepare it and if you don;t eat it all yourself and choose to share it with some guests you will be flavour of the month for some time!

fillet of beef 300 grams
Olive oil 150ml (choose an extra virgin olive oil, the best you can get)
2 aubergines
2 Corgette
2 bunches white asparagus(use green if white not available)
2 lemons
1 bunch parsley
1 bulb garlic
5 sprigs of thyme
5 sprigs of rosemary
Salt and pepper

1.Slice the beef into 20 thin slices. Then take a slic at a time and place between 2 shhets of clingfilm and tap gently with rolling pin until very flat, you want it as thin as possible.
2.Arrange the 20 pieces on a large white oval platter, getting them as thin as possible is the key here.
3.In a food processor mix the zest of the lemons, the picked parsley leaves and half the bulb of garlic. Blend for 2 minutes and then add half of the olive oil. Take this mixture and brush it onto the beef evenly. Cover the platter with clinfilm and leave in fridge for 4 hours. Remove 20 minutes before serving.
4.Slice the corgette and aubergine into half cm thick slices using a knife or a hand slicer and place in a tray with the asparagus after having chopped off any woody ends from the asparagus. Toss with the olive oil, picked thyme leaves, chopped rosemary, the rest of the chopped garlic and lots of salt and pepper.

For grilling the vegetables use a pan similar to this

5.Heat the griddle pan to a medium heat and grill the vegetables until the grill lines appear on them. Only grill a few at a time and then place them into an oven dish and cook for a further 8 minutes once you have finished grilling them all.
6.Remove from the oven and serve with the wonderful carpaccio, some crusty bread and your favourite glass of white!! Delicious!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Moving things on

Pan seared scallops with ginger and spinach. Veal scallopini with lemon and parsley

Well it's just good to be back in port without any guests and we have been taking it very easy for the last couple of days. I spent most of the day out and about shopping for the crew. I have just had a quick game of tennis in the local hotel and am now tucked up in bed writing this!

Looking out to sea in St Maarten

Am happy with the way the blog is going and we are starting to raise money quicker now but i really want to speed things up even more. I want to encourage people to start giving donations and am setting up a facility to do this online. I would like to get as many people to donate 10 dollars a month to the cause. It is such a small amount but could make a huge difference. Just think during one month you would only have to sacrifice a couple of beers, a little treat you normally have or a dinner out. It is disgusting that people in Africa die all the time and we all have an option to help but 95% of us make no effort to at all. 10 dollars a month may not seem like a lot but if all the readers of this blog do it we will be earning thousands a month. The beauty of this is that unlike other charities we will be giving 100% of the funds directly to the African people. I will personally go there and make sure every last penny donated gets directly to the African people. I am starting the donations myself and am pledging $100 dollars a month. I will unveil the donation options in the next couple of days but please please think about what you have the potential to do by doing this, don't just leave it to other people, we need to start acting on this and now is the time!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Watching planes and crashing boats

Raised so far $50.54

Well i promised a tipsy post last night but as you can see by the lack of post we got a little bit past the tipsy stage! We spent the day in a great bar in St Maarten called the sunset bar. Its at the very end of the runway and the planes fly so low over the bar that you can nearly touch them! Well about 15 beers later we all staggered back to the boat via Mcdonalds and slept it off!

Sitting in a really big chair with the rest of the crew

St Maarten is a cool island which is split equally between the dutch and the french which is pretty useful for me as those are the 2 other languages i speak! It's a big centre for boats and we always have a good time here!

There was also big drama yesterday when i crashed one of the boats! It's like crashing a car but more serious! It cost 100,000 and i did quite a lot of damage. It is so bad that they have to fly somebody from america to fix it! Basically i was coming into the port and it was really windy, a huge gust caught me and pushed me into a sharp wall! It burst straight away and for a moment i thought i was going to sink so was getting ready to jump! Luckily it didn't but still it's a lesson that i should stick to the cooking!

Roasted veg and a carpaccio of beef for the crew today

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Freedom again!!!!!

Raised so far $49.76
Some of the crew saying goodbye to the guests

Well the best news is that the guests are gone, best news for me that is! After a week of hard work and nothing but cooking 24/7 they are finally gone and i could not be happier! After making them breakfast they flew out on their private jet this morning and we were free to make our way to St maarten!

Have just arrived after 10 hours in big crashing seas! The waves were about 10 feet which although not as bad as expected was still enough to make me seasick and have to stay in bed for most of the day!
The sea plane taking off

Last night i cooked them a final meal as it was yet another one of the guests birthday, but luckily no dressing up this time! They seemed to leave very happy but luckily we now have 2 weeks off in St Maarten before we have any more guests, so now we have a bit of time to let our hair down(difficult in my case).

Baked herb encrusted Brie with cranberry relish and baby gem

Other good news from the blog is that it is being featured in The Sunday World today which is the biggest Sunday paper in Ireland so we should be adding more readers and therefore more money for kids in Africa.Keep it up guys!

Well i'm off to get some hard earned sleep now and get ready for a nice day off tomorrow in St Maarten. Seems like the plan is to go to a beach bar at 12ish so could be a tipsy post tomorrow night!!

Was feeling tired and grumpy about work this morning but then looked out the window and realise not many people have this view from their office window!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A fun day

Jumping from the top of the boat

$48.98 Raised so far

a lot happened today, had heaps of fun even though the guests were still onboard! They partied pretty hard today, you can always tell it's gonna be a big day if they are drinking bloody marys at 8.30 in the morning with breakfast!

We are now anchored just off Necker which is Richard Branson's private island which some of you might have seen in the TV programme Cribs! It's pretty stunning here!

Richard Branson's Necker Island from the air

The rest of the day was spent cooking for the guests as usual and they also insisted we swim with them so i had to do my party piece and climb up to the top of the boat and jump off! What a feeling hitting that water! 84 degrees the water here!!

It was one of the guests 50th birthday today so i made him a fancy cake and we all dressed up for the pirate theme night! There was a bit of problem as we didnt have enough male costumes, i had to cook and being the last one to change ended up in the female one! It was worth it to see the look on the guy who was getting the cake face!Priceless!

Looking good in my lacy top!!

So tomorrow is the last day and we head back to St Thomas to drop the guests back to their jet. The BVI really are one of the most beautiful places i've ever been to, i could spend so much time here but it's off to St Maarten for us! Have just seen the weather forecast though for our journey on Saturday and they are predicting 16 foot seas!!That is very big believe me, pretty much bigger than the boat itself! Could be fun, i'll get pictures for you all to see!!
A starter tonight of smoked salmon with baby potato salad and herb oil

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A nice cold beer at last

Raised so far $46.98

Parked up at Peter Island
Well we are still on charter and are now in the British Virgin islands in a place called Peter Island. Today has been pretty good as the guests have been off getting spa treatments. I went shopping on the main land as am getting pretty low on food as cooking for 18 people every day uses it up pretty fast! Luckily we had time to slip in some local lunch and a nice cold Red Stripe beer! Defientily the highlight of an otherwise not very exciting week!

Having a beer for lunch!
We were talking today about travels we have all done in the last year. I won the game pretty easily, check out the list of places i've been since this time last year...


Rack of lamb with potato and leek rosti, truffle jus and herb oil from tonights dinner menu

Costa Rica
Galapagos Islands
New Orleans
Peter island where i am today

Puerto Rico
Cayman islands
st maarten
St Barts
St Lucia
St vincent
Lets see if i can beat the total for the next year!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

In the full chefs uniform for dinner service

Raised so far $46.78

Well it's been another hectic day and i haven't done much else apart from cooking. There was a bit of a bonus this morning when i happened to meet a local and he sold me some of the best fish I've ever seen in my life! The tuna was nearly alive it was so fresh, and prawns that were bursting full of flavour! It made my job really easy today having ingredients of that quality!

Prawns with avocado and lemon dressing

Tomorrow the guests are off on a day trip so I'll be able to catch up on some much needed sleep! We are going down to Richard Branson's island Nectar to anchor for the night!

Today's fresh tuna cooked with ginger, black sesame, chili and Chinese cabbage

I can't begin to explain how tired i am and how long this charter is! whenever you finish your 8 hours behind a desk and feel tired just think of the crew on yachts, we basically work double that time in a day, standing up and then sleep for 5 hours before doing it all again for 7 days in a row. Think of the most tired you have ever been, multiply it by 5, throw in a bit of jet lag, a hangover, sore feet, an aching back and that would be pretty close! Still i guess only three more days and we have the boat to ourselves again and have a huge party in St Maarten the party island of the Caribbean!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Raised so far $45.49

Pastries and fruit for breakfast
we are in The Britsih Virgin islands now in a place called Tortolla, its really cool here, its where all the pirates used to hide out and wait in coves to come out and steal all the treasure. No pirates today just lots of American tourists around.
Well things have been crazy busy for the last couple of days with guests! I've been cooking for 8 of them and also feeding the 10 crew onboard! I though i'd show you through a typical day of mine on charter! Here goes.....

5.30a.m I get out of bed and after a few double expressos i'm ready to go!I start making all the pastries for the day along with muffins and bread for breakfast!

6.30a.m The rest of the crew are starting to get up now and i cook them some bacon for some bacon butties! I make all the fruit platters and berries for the guests breakfast!
What the rich and famous have for lunch, there is fresh lobster, potato salad with truffle, home made flat breads, humus and a classic cesar

8.amThe guests are waking up and i make them all sorts of breakfast orders, they are hungover this morning so they all want cooked breafasts, lots of bacon and eggs this morning! I start all the prep for lunch, i am cleaning fish, cooking lobsters, peeling vegetables and making salads.

10.30am I start cooking lunch for the crew. They are having fillet steak and wedges for lunch, they can be harder to please than the guests sometimes!

11.30 Crew are fed and i'm putting the finishing touches to the guests lunch

13.00 I serve the guests their lunch

14.30 have cleaned down after lunch and manage to have a quick snack myself!

15.00 I start preparing the dinner for the guests!

16.30 It's time for the crew to eat again so i feed them

18.00 I'm making roast pepper soup, veal chop with wild mushroom risotto and a white chocolate mousse for the guests!

20.00 They sit down to eat and order a few last minute things to make my life a bit harder. Somebody doesn't like veal so i have to change it to a steak. They want lots more bread, the soup is nice they want more, the waiter just dropped a plate, lucky i had an extra veal chop!

23.00 Dinner is finally over and i sit down to write this, i'm up at 5.30 again tomorrow to go through the same routine so i need to sleep! Only 4 more days of this and then the guests get off and we will have one hell of a party in St Maarten! If i make it that far that is, i feel like keeling over at any moment i'm so tired!
Looking very tired and grumpy just before dinner

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Very very tired

Raised so far $40.89

Well its been a long couple of days. The charter guests arrived yesterday and i've been flat out since then. I was up naking croissants at 5.30 this morning and i'm just sitting down to write this now and it's 12.45 in the evening! I'm up again in less than 5 hours so you will have to forgive me for keeping this short! Thats the thing about this job, when the guests aren't here its all sitiing on the beach and drinking cocktails but when they are here its non stop! They are here until Friday so i'll have to get used to very little sleep! Anyway have to run, eyes are very slowly closing as i tpye this. I'll think of you all having a nice Sunday sleep in when i'm having my double expresso to get going in the morning!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Borat he like my pie!!

Raised so far $38.67

Well its been a pretty quiet day apart from lots of shopping today! The boat is stuffed full of the freshest most exotic food you could imagine. I have been shopping all day and picked up fresh lobsters, 45 different fruits, wild berries and Kobe beef from Japan amoungst other things. The guests arrive tomorrow night for a one week charter so everything is ready to go! They pay $125,000 to charter the boat for a week so everything has to be of the higest standard. That price by the way is only for the boat it doesn't include fuel, food, or alcohol! It's an expensive business chartering super yachts!

So seeing as it's quiet i thought i would show you all another little recipie that i have used for the rich and famous!

When Sacha Baron Cohen was in Cannes to promote his movie Borat recently he wanted something sweet towards the end of the night, i gave him some of this pecan pie and he liked it so much he said"eehm i like, in kazakstan we make with goat but this very nice"
Try making it, there really isn't an easier or tastier dessert!
It is an American recipe so weights will need to be converted, do this on the internet, very easy.

Oven: 325° F 45 minutes
Yield: 1 (9- inch) pie

1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 cup light corn syrup
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups pecans
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell

Allow butter to soften at room temperature. Mix sugar and flour. Cream butter with sugar and flour mixture. Add corn syrup and eggs. Beat with mixer until frothy. Add salt, vanilla, and pecans. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake 45 minutes at 325°

Sitting in the Hot tub after a hard days work!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Another big leap forward

Raised so far $37.50
The blog might sound exotic but there is nothing glamorous about the life these kids lead. Getting water for the day is a bonus

Well as you can see with the total things are starting to move along very nicely now. Today has been another excellent day and i am happy to announce that i have just signed a deal to act as the excluxise chef author on the site
It is a well established yachting industry site and i will be providing advice to readers as well as writing e books of recipes and stories that will be available to download. It is also a major step forward for the blog as it will increase traffic here and as a result earn much more money for us and the African project. This is a big day for the blog and along with the TV and print media coverage we are really starting to get somewhere now.

If you want to download recipes like this langoustines with avocado go to

Basically the blog will stay the same with my day to day stories and accounts of cooking for the rich and famous but now you will also be able to go to to access large amounts of practical recipes. The amounts raised are starting to increase significantly as well which can only be a good thing. I really can't thank you guys enough for supporting this so far and urge you to keep doing so, it will make a difference.

Today has been quiet as we are getting ready for a charter on Friday, i have just been stocking up the boat today and making lists for a huge days shopping tomorrow! I'll have to buy $10,000 worth of food tomorrow and you will be able to read about me doing so if you read the blog in the morning!

So thank you all for following me during a very successful week for the blog, lets hope it keeps going like this and before we know it you will be reading about me going to Africa to lay the first bricks of the centre.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I knew something big would happen today!!

Raised so far $31.67

When I was writing last night I said something big would happen today and I was pretty much right! I woke up today to an e mail saying BBC wanted to do a piece on TV about me and the blog, so i guess i was right about something big happening! I need to speak to them tomorrow and hopefully something good will come of it but either way it is good news for the blog and the people of africa who this is all for in the end!

When i started this blog I knew it had the potential to be big and i think i can see the start of it really happening now. Even though the amounts being raised are still very small it is heading in the right direction. Its been running for 5 weeks now and a month ago we were making 10/20 cents a day now we are making 1/2 dollars a day. Hopefully in another month we'll be making 10 dollars a day and so on, but it really does depend on you guys passing it on to everybody in your address book, reading it and supporting it. I am determined to make a big difference in Africa with this and i feel confident we are heading in the right direction! Cheers guys!!

Well nothing much else happening today. We took the boat out for a little spin to check a few things but the weather was a little overcast, still warm though!

Spent most of the day shopping, for myself today, not the boat, am on a retail binge at the moment for some reason, bought a new phone/ipod thingy all in one today, been playing with it like a typical boy all evening! Ok have to keep this short as am off out with the boys to play pool.

I was trying out some desserts for guests for next week today and made some chocolate fondants for the crew to try. The recipe is below, try it, really really easy. Its the warm chocolate cake you bake where the chocolate pours out of the middle for those of you who don't know what a fondant is!!It's very sinful and bad for you but tastes awesome!

8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 C unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 large eggs, room temperature
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
7 T sugar
1/4 C all purpose flour, sifted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter inside of 8 4-ounce ramekins. Dust each with flour and knock out extra.

Put chocolate and butter in a pan over hot water, not boiling or simmering. Melt chocolate and butter until smooth and well-blended. Remove top part of double boiler and set aside to cool until tepid.

Put eggs, yolks and sugar into bowl of electric mixer with wire whisk attachment. Whip on medium high speed for three minutes until thick and increased in volume.

Add melted chocolate at low speed and mix until uniform in color. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in sifted flour.

Ladle batter into prepared ramekins. Bake on baking sheet, 12-16 minutes or until top is set but center is still molten

Monday, November 27, 2006

Another lazy day in St Thomas

My mate took this pic, crazy colors eh?

Raised so far $28.64 (very slow today)

Well I’m settling into the Caribbean pretty well and adjusting to the slow pace of life nicely! We are taking it pretty easy as we have some big guests coming on the boat on Friday so need to relax before then! I woke up this morning and for once thought it might be an idea to get healthy so went for a run! Got about half a mile up the road before feeling like crap and turning back for home! I’ll get better day by day that’s what I was telling myself!

Myself and One of the deckhands then took the bikes out and cycled around the island! It’s a beautiful place but you don’t have to go too far to see poverty, people only think of idyllic beaches in the Caribbean and often forget that the whole area is pretty much a third world country! We cycled all the way around and then stopped on a little beach where we witnessed one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life, the colors were incredible.

The captain then took all the crew out for dinner and cocktails which was nice but once again I am lying here writing this falling asleep and struggling to focus on the keys! You’re probably all getting bored of hearing my stories of lying around beaches and having fun so tomorrow I’ve decided something exciting will happen in the blog, don’t know what yet but I’ll make sure something dramatic happens!

In the absence of anything exciting happening today here are a couple of blond jokes to brighten up your day……

This is the boat i am currently working on

Q. What did the blondes right leg say to the left leg?
A. Nothing, they haven't met!
Q. What do smart blondes and UFO's have in common?
A. You always hear about them but never see them.
Q. Why did the blonde stare at the can of frozen orange juice?
A. Cause it said concentrate.
I’m off to get some well earned sleep after another hard days work! Wait till you see what happens tomorrow!!It’s gonna be big I promise!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Back on land

Raised so far $28.50

God it's good to be back on dry land again, 4 days at sea does all sorts of things to the brain and we are all sick of the site of each other and arguing like crazy! We arrive at 6 in the morning and after i cook everybody a bit of breakfast we ae off for a day at the beach! God it is so good to back in the caribbean! A beer costs 2 bucks and you can get a taxi anywhere on the island for a buck!

We invented a game on the beach where one person throws the ball as high in the air as possible and the other has to catch it no matter what. It usually invloves trampling over a family with children, running through the bar,into the water, back out and then full length into a group of old age people having a picnic! By the time we left the beach we weren't the most popular people on the whole island and we've only been here for 8 hours!

I'm gonna keep this short as we have just been to a beach bar for a few sundowners and a burger and it's getting late and my bed is calling. It's great to be back here in the warm weather and it'll be hard to find stuff to write about as I intend to spend most of the week on the beach getting a tan, getting better at our new game and drinking quite a few Red stripes! I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Crossing to St Thomas

Raised so far $27.56 (keep it up guys!)

Ok its been a while! Not my fault as have been pretty busy and at sea for 4 days! We left Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday and have been making our way down to St Thomas which is an island in the U.S Virgin islands! Along the way we hit the mother of all electrical storms which was one of the craziest sites I have ever witnessed! It took us a couple of hours to pass through and it was scary as hell! We were the only boat within 30 miles and there was so much lightening that the whole sea was blue constantly. It got so bad that you couldn’t even look out the window, think of looking straight into a strobe light constantly!

Luckily things are better today! Being at sea when the weather is nice on your own private mega yacht is a pretty relaxing experience! We get all the perks the owners have without having to pay hundreds of millions to enjoy it! I’m actually sitting up on the top deck writing this wirelessly listening to U2 so loud that I reckon the locals in Puerto Rico 6 miles away can hear it!

We have a week in St Thomas before picking up guests on Friday for a trip around the Us and British Virgin Islands and then it’s off to St Martin and St Barts for some hard earned R&R.

The job does sound ideal with lots of perks and heaps of fun but sometimes it does have a downside! Sometimes you meet a really cool person, somebody you’d like to get to know better and before you know it you are off sailing in the opposite direction, that’s when it has a knack of kicking you in the teeth and making you think you have lived enough of the good life and need to get a reality check! You don’t normally hear me speaking like that…but she was special!!

Ok enough of me moaning about my bad luck, am sure that is the last thing you think I have sitting here in the middle of the Caribbean! I’ll be writing every day now that I am moving and will have heaps of cool stories to tell! We get in to St Thomas tomorrow at 6 A.M. and if we’re not too tired will hopefully be able to get some diving in and maybe even a sundowner to get that first taste off the year of Red stripe beer! I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Working with Conrad

Raised so far 20.76

The name Conrad Gallagher will be famous among Irish readers both for his cooking and for his notoriety. I first met him when i was fresh out of cooking college and walked in the back door of his Peacock Alley Restaurant on St William Street. At the time he was a walking legend and had a feared reputation. Chefs waited months for a job and were handed picked, i took a gamble and went to the back door. Luckily i met the man himself and told him i was keen and would do anything to learn about food. He told me to be back in an hour with my knives and that there were 4 bags of potatoes needing peeling. We have talked about it since and he said it was the northern accent and having the balls to walk in that got me the job!

People remember Conrad for the wrond reasons in Ireland, what they forget are all the good things. before he started cooking in Ireland the food was dreadful, really really dreadful! He was perfect with his timing with the Celtic tiger just starting to purr. People in Ireland had never heard of things like black truffle risotto or honey glazed fois gras. He was a sensation overnight!

I worked hard with him and learnt so much about food in 2 years, and watched as he built his empire to 6 restaurants. After just turning 21 he approached me one day and asked me to become head chef in his bistro LLoyds. It was a huge challenge because of my age but one that i enjoyed hugely. Highlights were cooking for Robbie Williams and his band before his Slane concert gig and getting drunk with the Corrs one night after dinner service!

I helped Conrad with his book "One Pot Wonders" which gave me an appetite for developping my own book one day and i guess this blog is the first form of that!

No matter what people say about Conrad i have only ever know his warmth and have to this day never worked with a better chef. He is an inspiration to all Irish chefs and should be held in the highest regard for dragging Ireland out of the middle ages in a gourmet sense.

He did of course court controversy during his career in Ireland with plenty of financial difficulties and several other issues. One of the funniest stories was one day in the restaurant a rather large tough looking guy came in to collect a debt for one of the suppliers. Now this was when Conrad was at the height of his fame and in every newspaper, magazine and on TV. The guy was obviously not a big food fan and walk up to Conrad
"sorry mate I'm looking for Conrad Gallagher to collect some money"
Conrad pauses and thinks for a split second before looking over to me and says
"Niall, have you see Conrad today?"
I shake my head.
"No i think he's out for the day"says Conrad.
The tough guy looking annoyed and ready for action isn't gonna give up.
"why don't i get you a nice coffee and a biscuit and you can sit there and wait for him"says Conrad
Conrad personally makes a beautiful coffee and delivers a few biscuits over to the man.
"I'll go and call Conrad now and get him here asap for you."Says Conrad
"My name is Johny if there is anything else you want, tea, coffee, anything, just give me a shout, I'll be over there" says Conrad.
He walks around the corner as if going to the phone, gets into the lift and down to his car which he drives off in and isn't seen again for 3 days!
Classic Conrad!

He also had a caring side, making sure I always went home with him and the family for Xmas dinner and looking after his friends like no other! I just wouldn't want to be doing business with him!