Aussie Chef Provides Top Tips for Preparing, Cooking and Storing Food on a Race Yacht

Australian yacht Chef Lisa Mead has certainly had an exciting career, spending past 26 years cheffing on board luxury yachts.

Over the years, Lisa has found herself cooking and working between Australia, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. During this time, Lisa has served up her culinary delights to all walks of life including celebrities, royalty and heads of states.

As part of her time spent cooking at sea, Lisa has also cooked for yacht race crews and did so for one of the Caribbean’s biggest sailing festivals, the Spring Regatta. For this reason, we have called upon Lisa to share with us her expertise for preparing and cooking for offshore racing, which is sure to come in handy for those in the lead up to the famous Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Below you’ll find Chef Lisa Mead’s tops tips for preparing, cooking and storing food on board a race yacht:

Ensure you factor in all race crew ahead of time

The first steps in planning to cater for a yacht race is to distinguish how many crew will be on board. Although this sounds quite simple, it’s always important to check how many people you will be catering for and if there’s a chance of this changing in the lead up to the race. As part of this, also be sure to check the type of food storage available on board and that it will hold the food you area preparing for the crew. This will include dry store, fridge and freezer space.

Prepare a list of preferences & dietary requirements ahead of time

This is another crucial step that will need to be factored in quite early and when you’re distinguishing how many people you are cooking for. Prepare a list of questions regarding food preferences that you can have the crew pre-fill ahead of the race and includes things such as food allergies, dietary requirements and major dislikes. Also be sure to factor in beverage of choice.

Plan your entire menu in advance and ensure it meets the above requirements

Plan your menu well in advance from breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. It’s important that when you are planning your menu that you choose fuss free food, that can be easily eaten in often unpredictable sea conditions. Below are examples of some of the food I serve guests on board:

  • For breakfast look to include things such as bacon and egg sandwiches, breakfast burritos, frittata, blueberry muffins and mini yogurts.
  • When planning lunches think things such as sandwich wraps, ham and cheese quiche or leek and mushroom quiche. These can all be pre-made prior to the race and stored on board.
  • Snacks are key and need to be accessible quickly and easily. A few snack options include energy bars, small packets of nuts, chips, chocolate bars and fresh fruit.
  • All dinner meals should be made prior to the crew boarding and some great examples of dishes I have served race crews include chicken curry and rice, chilli con carne, lasagna and chicken and mushroom pie. You want to ensure that you are creating no fuss and easy to re- heat food.

Also, remember to factor in beverages to serve the crew in order to keep them hydrated. I’ve found that more racing boats are dry, so no alcohol, however be sure to find out what beverages are required with water being a must.

Write a provision list to ensure you’re covering all bases

Once you have your menu prepared, break your list into sections (bread and dairy, dry stores, fruit and vegetable, meat and seafood). This will make it easier when you are shopping and help to ensure you don’t leave anything out and are factoring in things needed for those with special dietary requirements.

Meal preparation is key

Pre make all of the cooked meals you have planned on your menu at least two days out from the race. Once you have cooked these, place meals in zip lock bags or a vacuum-sealed pack with a description written on each. Remember that this is a crucial step especially for those you’ve noted as having specific dietary requirements or allergies.

Jump on board the race yacht a day before it leaves the dock, to ensure all food is being stored correctly

Pack away ingredients and beverages the day before the race. Store meals that will be eaten first at the top of the freezer and store food being left in the fridge in sections to ensure things are kept as long as possible and don’t begin to perish. Bread and dairy should also be included on one shelf and ensure you leave plenty of room for dry food in storage cupboards. Along with this, remember to make lists of where you have stored the food on board including in the fridge, freezer and cupboards. Race yacht crew need to be able to find meals quickly and get back to the job at hand.

For those who wish to learn from Australian Chef Lisa Mead themselves, they can do just that by attending one of her interactive cooking workshops. This can be done online or in person for those located in the Queensland region, and allow you to learn how to create a range of internationally inspired cuisines with Lisa herself. To find out more about Lisa’s workshops, visit:

Lisa Mead
Lisa Mead