It’s 7:00 a.m. The sun is already up. I am onboard the Papagallo – easing into my day, having my first cup of coffee and smoking my first cigarillo. It’s very different than all the years I’ve spent in restaurant kitchens. Standing quietly on the foredeck and gazing out over the sea, I think how lucky I am.
I witness the harbor awaken. Another new day. The same as any other, but very different. The Sea Otters are having breakfast, banging clams and crabs against a stone brought up from the bottom and placed on their chests for the task. Fishing boats pay them no mind as they start their engines and head out in search of the catch of the day, much like they’ve done for hundreds of years.
Scores of pigeons take flight from one roof top to another. Who knows why? That’s just what they do. Curious Harbor Seals cruise by. They are looking for leftovers, snacks, their next meal. Across the bay I see a group of healthy Sea Lions jockeying for position on a floating dock. I can hear them barking to each other. I wonder what they are saying, how they communicate, who’s in charge.
I hear the cries of seagulls. As if led by a conductor, they harmonize with the sounds all around them. Nature’s orchestra is tuning up, getting ready for the day. Ever watchful, the seagulls glide effortlessly through the air, expert fliers aware of all that is below them. They are a blessing and a curse I think.
The salt air I breathe is refreshing, invigorating. It clears my head. Allows me to think. Encourages me to dream. On windy days it fills the sheets of sail boats, gloriously, spreading them wide and full enough so that they whine with pride.
This is my wonderful office. It’s like no other, and I never take it for granted.
With my coffee and smoke finished, I leave the deck and begin tidying up the boat. We have a cruise scheduled for the evening. I precheck all the systems onboard, then enter the galley to begin my cooking day. All our parties have preset menus chosen by the party host. Because our menus for each cruise change, my food prep is always interesting, never boring. And unlike service in a restaurant setting, we know the number of guests and their menu selections well ahead. There is no guessing.
After the cruise, when the last bite of dessert has been eaten and our guests are departing, I receive yet another reward – smiles and comments on what a wonderful experience they’ve had. “This was a magical evening,” the comment we hear most frequently, is music to my ears. For a chef, those words are as important as receiving payment for the function. In my fifty plus years in the food business, accolades from satisfied guests never get old. They are a huge part of why we do what we do. Keep ‘em coming and I will keep cookin’. It’s my passion and pleasure to serve every guest onboard the Papagallo.
After all, our professional team is in the business of making magical evenings happen!
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