Chef interviews

In the galley with Jack Middleton

Nationality: British Years Experience: 11
What are you doing / where are you working right now?

Currently taking some down time at home in Austria with my loved ones after a very laborious year in 2021. Also working some short term freelance jobs to get me out of the house as I get a bit stir crazy if I’m out of the kitchen/galley for too long!

Who is your food hero (dead or alive) and why?

Just one, that is pretty hard… I’d have to say Heston Blumenthal being such a pioneer and game changer in the culinary world over the past 25 years. Always looking to experiment with new techniques/ingredients to better recipes that have years previously been set in stone. A few years ago I was lucky enough to spend time at a Heston Blumenthal flagship restaurant for a good stint it was one of my most enjoyable jobs.

What three ingredients could you not live without?

Salt, Butter, Lemon

What are your three favourite cookbooks and why?

Eleven Madison Park – All the recipes are very precise and well written. Danial Humms best cook book in my opinion.

Larousse – Such a good reference point, not only for definitions but history of certain dishes and ingredients.

White Heat – Such a classic full of amazing timeless recipes. My favourite being the lemon tart recipes which is arguably one of the best I’ve tasted.

What three kitchen gadgets could you not live without?

A fine micro–Tammy Sieve – great for achieving consistent textured purées, and gels.
Pacojet – great for ice creams, sorbets, farces, purees
Stick Blender/bam mix, always have one set up in a Bain Marie for mixing everything from beurre blancs sauces, crepe mass at breakfast to a foam for the top of a soup.

What piece of equipment should every yacht have in the galley?

Thermometer. Really takes out the guess work under pressure and helps with achieving better consistency. I use it for everything from making ice creams to baking bread.

What would you say are some of the most overrated ingredients?

Kobe Beef, koji, quinoa, summer truffle

What would you say are some of the most underrated ingredients?

Celeriac, bone marrow, sturgeon, nettles, mutton

What has been the most popular (or requested dish) on a yacht by a guest so far?

Ham and cheese toasties at 4am

If you were a guest on a yacht, who would you want to cook for you and why?

I’d have to go with Rick Stein a fellow west country lad. I really enjoy his no non sense approach to cooking and how sociable he makes meal times. When I’m not working I like to enjoy simple well sourced food cooked well and let the produce do the brunt of the work.

What music do you listen to in the galley (if at all)?

During prep it very much depends on the pace of the day, if an extra push is required we’d listen to some electronic music or a podcast if just prepping away. In the mornings I listen to radio 2 and never any music for service.

Best galley tip/hack?

Get ahead with pastry elements and dry store them or freeze them. Pastry requires a lot of focus and if you can prepare ahead do it before guests are on.

What is the hardest part of your job?

Having to cohabit with crew who work opposite hours.

What do you see as being the biggest challenge for chefs in the industry moving forward?

Getting your foot in the door and first job on boat really. Chef positions are getting more and more competitive it’s getting harder to stay ahead of the pack and get yourself a good reputation

What would you say to people who stereotype chefs as being prima donnas with big egos?

I would say of course there are some big egos in the industry but please don’t tar us all with the same brush. If you can cook properly and do your job well I’ve never felt the need to tell everyone how amazing you are.

What is your attitude toward crew with dietary requirements?

I have no problem with crew that have clinically diagnosed allergies and will always prepare something for everyone. But just don’t be the vegan stewardess I once found in the kebab shop eating a donor at 2am while I’ve been catering to her vegan needs for the past 6 months. Other than that I’m happy to help crew with whatever they like to eat.

What is the weirdest most bizarre thing you have ever been asked to cook?

Probably Fillet steak for a dog (medium rare)

Name something you have cooked for guests that you are most proud of.

Cooking dover sole meunière for a French guest with a great pallet who eats that dish 3 times a week and getting feedback it was the best he’d ever had.

When you are interviewing a chef to work for you, how do you know if they are any good?

The way they talk about food has to be with passion and energy. If you are a chef and you love cooking it’s still a very hard job, but if you’re a chef and just like cooking and see it as a job you won’t get very far.

What one thing should all chefs do to help the environment?

Try to reduce plastic use and try to reduce their carbon footprint by sourcing produce locally.

What one thing can chefs do to limit food wastage?

Keep a record of weights of portions per head to avoid over catering, with prep wastage always have a box for veg scraps, bones, old herbs in the freezer space which can be used in stocks or jus when you’re next making them.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you want to be?

I’ve always been interested in woodwork and gardening. So I imagine I’d be a carpenter or tree surgeon

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