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Food Trends 2016 Crewed Yacht Charter Cuisine

Cuisine Aboard Catamaran Avalon, Pegasus of London and Felicia

My charter yacht Chef's hat is kept spinning all the time learning about new diet trends and health requirements of our guests. The key to cooking well on charters is listening to what the guests want rather than trying to show them everything we can do. Some guests are happy to be led; others are more specific about their needs. It's vital for all sailing vacation yacht charter guests to fill out a detailed Food & Beverage Preference sheet before each charter. As a group, the professional crewed yacht Chefs aboard yacht charters in the Virgin Islands, excel in their talents to please their guests. And they love to share their knowledge with each other! 

We've all seen the articles about Food Trends for 2016. I think we'll see spices used in ways that are novel to people living in the USA; but not necessarily to those living in the Caribbean. My island taste buds tell me that the trend in savory yogurts with flavors such as Vanilla/Cardamom will be popular. "Root to Stem" cooking seems thrifty as well as easy as well as the overall trend in snacking to go from sweet to more savory, bitter and sour options. It makes me laugh that the healthy packed with plant protein legume family that includes chickpeas, lentils, dried beans and peas is now trendily referred to as "pulses". Pulses have a tiny carbon footprint and help enrich the soil they're grown in, making them great for the environment. 

I appreciate how high quality, well-presented cuisine brings people together; for both those who eat regular food and those who can’t. I love to make meals that are not only good for you, but actually tastes good. Learning about all these different styles of eating has become a passion for me.

In my 18 years and almost 90,000 plates served in the galley, I was completely surprised to learn that over one-half of the charter guests aboard catamarans, sailboats and motor yachts follow their diets, even while on vacation. The 30 Day Challenge Diet, Eat This, Not That Diet, Gluten Free Diet, Dairy free, Egg free, Gluten free, Nut free, Paleo, Atkins, the Zone, Dukan Diet and many more diet trends are popular amongst our Virgin Islands sailing vacation clients. 

When I began working as a Chef in the charter yacht industry aboard our owner/operator charter yacht Three Moons almost two decades ago, the first thing that I was told was to watch out for those "charter pounds". It's true. No matter how hard we Chefs try to exercise and follow our own straight & narrow path, we're surrounded by fabulous food from 7am in the morning until the galley is clean after dinner...sometimes as late as midnight! Serving 

By the end of our busy charter season in July, our crew uniforms always felt a bit "snug". So that means it's time to spend more time taking quality care of ourselves! Just like learning how to prepare impressive Gluten-free menus for our guests, I threw myself into this culinary challenge and my husband, the Captain, a tough critic, held nothing back. With much trial and many errors, I developed great "no sugar, no flour, no fat" repertoire that tastes delicious. Friends and family are now asking for my recipes, even those who are not on restricted diets!

A very popular diet in France, and then sensationalized in the UK via the Middleton family, Pierre Dukan introduced this new weight loss plan to America. Dr. Dukan is concerned about our nation’s complacency for constant yoyo diets and struggles to maintain a healthy weight.  Like Atkins, he focuses on protein being a main source of food throughout the diet, but unlike Atkins he does NOT allow fat, sugar or flour. There is a list of 100 foods that you can choose from and you do not have to count calories. And he adds a very important daily grain, organic Oat Bran.

Yacht Charter Boat Vacation Food and Cuisine TrendsRecently, I had an abundance of smoked salmon, steamed shrimp, surimi and fresh crab. The first night we tried a new recipe for Dukan Crab Cakes and they were very good. No, they weren't Paleo or as good as the recipe for my special fancy crab cakes; but since both the Captain's and the Chef's clothes are fitting so much better, I decided to let it slide. We had a couple of Dukan Crab Cakes left over from the recipe. So, the next day, I decided to crumble them up and use them as the "crust" for a Dukan version of my Award-winning Smoked Salmon Cheesecake.

This is what we famously call a "Chef Shelly Surprise"! You never know what might be created on the spur of the moment when we have a little free time! This Caribbean style mash-up result was great and I am happy to share it with you!



Dukan Crab Cakes....with a few of my personal additions & tweaks:

Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus 1 hour for refrigeration before cooking

Cooking time: 25 minutes


2 egg yolks, divided

1 pound fresh crabmeat, cartilage removed

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

Juice from 1 fresh lemon

1 teaspoon Cholula Hot Sauce

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Original Blend Seasoning

1 McCormick’s California Blend Garlic Seasoning

1 teaspoon oat bran

1/8 teaspoon turmeric


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Beat 1 egg yolk

3. Drain all juices from crabmeat, place on paper towels and pat dry. Mix together the crabmeat, ginger, lemon juice, Cholula, cumin, chopped cilantro, turmeric, Mrs. Dash, garlic, oat bran and the beaten egg yolk. Let the mixture rest, covered, in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

4. Spray a small non-stick skillet with 3 drops olive oil wiped with paper towel. Heat the skillet on medium-high. Form the crab mixture into 8 small balls. Flatten slightly with your hand. Beat the second egg yolk and brush it on the crab cakes.

5. Dust both sides of each crab cake very lightly with additional oat bran.

6. Place the crab cakes in the hot skillet and cook each side until lightly browned. Then remove the skillet from the heat and bake the crab cakes in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

NOTE: This recipe makes enough for 4 people.  Naturally, the Capt. and I had leftovers. So the next day, I crumbled the remaining crab cakes and placed them in the bottom of 6 lightly greased 1-cup ramekins. Then I made the following to go on top of the crab cakes:

My Award-winning Savory Smoked Salmon Cheesecake- Dukan Diet Style! 

Savory Smoked Salmon Cheesecake Filling:

1 large egg

1/2 cup fat free cream cheese, softened

1/8 cup fat free sour cream

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1 oz Organic Fat Free Jalapeno Jack Cheese, shredded

1 medium scallion, chopped

1 TBS each: smoked salmon, steamed shrimp, surimi and fresh crab, chopped

Optional Topping:

1/8 cup fat free cream cheese, softened

1/8 cup fat free sour cream

Pinch of garlic and salt, to taste

Garnishes-For a Dukan Diet Protein + Vegetable Day: Scallions, Red Bell Pepper, Green Bell Pepper and Parsley, chopped


Heat oven to 375. If you are using the Dukan Diet Crab Cakes, then crumble them up and divide the mixture between 6 1-cup ramekins that have been lightly sprayed with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter or 3 drops olive oil wiped with paper towel

Beat fat free cream cheese until smooth. Add egg, fat free sour cream, salt, garlic and shredded fat free cheese. Beat until smooth. Stir in scallions smoked salmon, steamed shrimp, surimi and fresh crab until well blended. Spoon mixture evenly into each ramekin, leveling with the back of a spoon. Bake 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool about 15 minutes at room temperature.

Optional Topping & Garnish: Prepare topping by beating together cream cheese and sour cream. Stir in a small pinch of garlic powder & salt and adjust to taste.

Before serving, spread cream cheese mixture on top. If it's a Protein + Vegetable Day, top with chopped Scallions, Red Bell Pepper, Green Bell Pepper and Parsley

Servings: 6

~Hope you enjoy it!

Chef Shelly Tucker

Recipe Note: The original (full fat) recipe for Savory Smoked Salmon Cheesecake was a 1st Place Winner - Virgin Islands Charter Yacht League Culinary Competition. Contact Me for the Original Recipe! 

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