Hello and welcome to my food blog, my name is Caz and I love to cook. I cook on a large scale and I’m not talking about a big family with 6 kids, I’m talking 30 to 75 people; I’m a cook on tall ships, my food is all Seasoned at Sea.
What is a tall ship?
Think of a pirate ship, but not. To me tall ships are large traditionally rigged sailing vessels, each with a different rig configuration and that’s what defines what style of ship it is. There are full rigged ships, brigs, barques, topsail schooners and many more.
I’ve worked on a handful of different vessels, each with their own learning curve, advantages and disadvantages, but as much as tall ships have shaped me into the person that I am there are two other large factors in my life that have made me who I am.
The first being that it is incredibly difficult to answerer the question “Where are you from?” I grew up in California till I was 11 and then my family moved over seas to Singapore where I spent my formative years, I went to all of middle and high school there. After high school when I moved back to the States with my mother I was hit with a larger culture shock than the one I received when I first moved away.
Shortly after my new study of the American culture I found myself flying across the country to Florida to experience my first adventure on tall ships. Everyone I have met in this industry has their own unique story of how they came into tall ships, I love my story but at the same time it’s slightly embarrassing. Most peoples story starts with knowing someone who was on a ship or they grew up sailing and knew that tall ships excised, for me it was just a matter of boredom. I was re-reading my favorite book, Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer, the story of a girl who dresses up as a boy in the 18th century and runs away to sea. I was looking up nautical terms to better comprehended the story, really get into Jacky’s shoes and one google search to the next lead me down the rabbit hole to find Bounty. There was this tall ship out there that was looking for crew, and what? they were willing to hire me, someone who had never had a job before let alone any experience with boats. I thought it was to good to be true but it was a dream come true! My whole life, my world CHANGED when I stepped aboard the Bounty for the first time.
After joining Bounty’s crew, I met the love of my life who was to become the second biggest influence in my life. Jesse has been with me every step of the way, first when I was a deckhand and next as I made the difficult transition to cook. You’ll see him a lot through out my journey, maybe not always mentioned by name but he is always there in the background supporting and encouraging me.
How did I make the transition from lowly deckhand to cook?
This is a bit of a long story with origins everywhere, but to cut to the chase cooking and boats run in the family so I guess it was bound to happen whether I knew it or not. When I first arrived on Bounty and getting to know the crew I let them know I was fond of cooking along with everything else I blabbered on about. The first time we were without a cook I was volun-told to do it. Fair enough, no one else wanted the responsibility to feed the group might as well give it to the girl who says she enjoys it. Looking back it wasn’t that big of a deal, I made food and they ate it without complaint.
Through out that first year I cooked here and there, three days, one day, a meal, a week and then at the end of the season I cooked for a month while the boat was in dry dock. I really enjoyed my experience cooking, it really satisfied me. The following season I wanted to come back as cook but understood that I didn’t have the experience for it, specially because the ship planned on crossing the Atlantic. Five days before we planed on leaving land for a month the cook quit! I stepped up and was happy to cook for a few days while the people in charge made a decision about what they were going to do, a cook is a very important position, the galley is the heart of the ship. I think the captain saw something in me that I couldn’t, he decided that if I was willing I’d cook until we got to Europe, if I hated it he’d find me a replacement. But I loved it. Cooking that first year was really hard, I wouldn’t have made if through without Jesse’s support.
I’ve been cooking on tall ships ever since, I had a land job for a week, but I quite because I hated it. It did teach me a valuable lesson and reaffirmed that tall ships are the right place for me. Working in that restaurant made me realize the freedom I have cooking on boats; there is no one to tell me what to do. I’m my own boss and based on the chain of command of a boat I’m my own department head so I only report to the Captain (if we never speak then I’m doing my job correctly). Unlike a restaurant I can make whatever I want, I’m not working off a set menu, making the same dishes everyday, the exact same way, I make one option for a meal and it gets served buffet style. I also never repeat myself, I pride myself on never cooking the exact same meal. Sure I might mac and cheese a few times over the coarse of 6 months, but it’s different every time, different cheese, different additions. Best of all I get to make my own schedule, as long as food comes out hot, on time and is delicious, I’m golden.