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Peg Donahue The Yacht ChefI fell in love with food and the creative side of cooking at a young age. My Mom was a private duty nurse working the 3 pm to 11 pm shift. So, as an only child, it was left to me to make dinner for myself and my Dad. This started when I was 13 years old and continued for about 3 years. At first my Mom would pre-cook our dinners and all I had to do was re-heat. After a while, Mom would start dinner, and leave it for me to complete. By the 3rd year, we would work on the grocery list together, and she’d leave the cooking to me, of course, with some directions. By the time she was able to change her shift and be home with us for dinner, I was hooked, and continued to help her. I fell in love with food and the creative outlet it afforded me, and I’ve never looked back.

I brought that love of cooking to my marriage. I thrived on cooking for our families and ours was always the “go to” house for holidays. I’d even experiment with new elaborate recipes on everyone. It always seemed to work out, and their encouragement just fueled my interest.

Life sometimes takes you where you least expect it to.

About 15 years ago, I found myself living on a sailboat at anchor in the harbor in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I was surrounded by other boats that all had charter crew. It was an idyllic life (when we weren’t dealing with major hurricanes!) and for socialization, we used to go from yacht to yacht for these fantastic dinners. Friends eventually talked me into also becoming yacht crew and a chef aboard yachts. I loved sailing, but found myself aboard private and charter luxury yachts. It turns out they weren’t too hard to take either! After about 8 years of working on these yachts, I had to retire to care for my Mom, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, so in order to keep my fingers in the cookie jar, I’ve decided to write a cookbook and share my experiences and love of good food.

I worked on several yachts and met a lot of very interesting and influential people, from movie stars, high profile politicians, writers, scientists, and a lot of very nice people from all corners of the globe. I’ve worked on yachts from the west coast of Florida, around to the east coast, up the Intra-coastal to New York City, to New England and all of the outer islands. I’ve had the good fortune to travel extensively through the Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the USVI, the BVI, Antigua, St. Martin, Anguilla, and St. Barts, and from island to island all the way down to Puerta LaCruz, Venezuela.

This compilation of recipes is a mixture of some of my more elaborate charter recipes and some everyday recipes that were passed around during the crew dinner parties. I met and befriended a lot of extremely talented chefs and cooks along the way, and they have also shared some of their recipes that I’ve been given permission to add into my cookbook with the promise to give them the credit where the credit is due. These recipes are all wonderful in their own right, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do in sharing them with you.

If you enjoy these recipes as I know you will, this is just the “tip of the tenderloin!”  Please visit www.portsidecuisine.com regularly where you’ll enjoy lots of yummy recipes and a lot of interesting and funny stories about my life at sea as both a live-aboard sailor and later on as a Yacht Chef.

Enjoy!

Peg Donahue
The Yacht Chef