Meet chef Peter Frost of M/Y Solemates
Peter, better known in the yachting community by his nickname Frostie, is currently working on a new 55m Heesen charter yacht Solemates, where he is wowing guests with his flavourful and beautifully plated culinary creations.
Find out how he compares working on a yacht to working in a 3-Michelin-star restaurant, how he copes with being away from family, and what are his tips for a smooth partnership between Superyacht Chef and Chief Stewardess.
What was the age you first started cooking and what was one of the first meals you prepared?
My earliest memory of cooking was when I was 7 or 8 years old, helping my mum, but I wasn’t cooking as in cooking. My mum used to do these big buffets on Sundays and we would have friends over so I would try to either decorate the food with a smiley face or get the mayonnaise and try to make it look pretty on the plate. So that was my first natural connection to food.
And my first proper meal was for a girl in school that I liked. I prepared chicken breast with cream cheese in the middle, wrapped in bacon. So very basic and probably totally disgusting but I did it myself. I remember rolling the chicken breast up in cling film and poaching it and then wrapping it in bacon, roasting it… You know what, it actually wasn’t too bad.
What 5 words would describe your cooking style?
Flavourful, presented, fun, stylish & loving.
What music do you enjoy listening to while cooking?
I’m a big Elton John fan so a bit of that but also normally in the galley you can hear beach club music since that is something that is chilled but also has quite a bit of energy. Everyone is always Shazaming what’s playing in the galley so I seem to be doing quite well.
Classical music is also good because it’s very regimented in principle, so if you’re someone that needs to be calm when plating then classical music is very easy to sink into in terms of calmness and the way it goes up and down. This is very similar to service since service always starts very calm and then something happens, something always happens, someone drops a plate or the boat is swinging, and classical music lets you get in the rhythm with it and it tends to calm you down.
How does working on as a superyacht chef compare to working in a 3 Michelin star restaurant?
I sometimes miss the comradery of a Michelin star restaurant, where you have a lot of like-minded people working together in a very small space and it always somehow functions. But for me, cooking on a yacht outweighs cooking in a restaurant because I am still cooking on a very high level, using all the experience I have, while having more control over what I cook.
In a Michelin style kitchen you are creating a perfect dish but it’s a generic dish for multitudes of personalities and a client might say: “Oh, but can I have it without this or that?”, while on a yacht you’re cooking a dish for an individual, knowing there is not going to be that sort of changes and you’re making a perfect dish for that client.
What are your top 3 destinations your yachting career has taken you to?
Definitely the Maldives, also I’m going to have to say Croatia – Hvar and Dubrovnik which is breathtaking, and I would say New York up the Hudson River, which was always a dream of mine and I finally got to do that last year.
How do you deal with being away from your friends and family during the season?
It’s always hard when you’re leaving, especially saying goodbye at the airport, but as soon as I get into what I have to do, my mise en place, my cooking, my ordering, it soon kind of eradicates itself. I am a very head-strong person and the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing is to better myself and better my family and I have a plan to do it so that makes things easier.
What is something that goes on in the galley that the other crew might not be aware of?
I like to always be on time and in control but to be able to do that you have to do a lot of other things. Myself and my sous chef Darrell do a lot of mise en place to make sure that, when guests all of a sudden want dinner two hours earlier, we are ready to go. So, if lunch is at 1:00 pm I’m normally ready at 11:50am. So sometimes the crew can be unaware of the amount of work that goes into everything. Even at this very moment I have a brisket that will be in the water bath for 3 days and, by the end of it, it will have been 4 and a half days with brining it for a day and doing other things that make a brisket.
What 3 galley tools are Superyacht Chef’s best friends?
My top 3 are: Water bath, Vacuum chamber and Thermomix, which one day might even replace chefs altogether!
What are some meals you like to cook for your crew?
We always try to cook what the crew wants and we always get nice ingredients to cook with. It’s important that the crew gets quality, well-balanced meals during the day.
It’s also always nice for head chefs to be able to cook for crew because it gives you back a sense of freedom. When you’re cooking for guests there is always a lot of pressure and cooking to recipes and set preferences, whereas cooking for crew allows you to be more free and creative and to try different things.
And when we talk about requests, chocolate brownie is one of the things that is always requested, as well as Banana bread, so those are some staples of our galley.
What is your trick for dealing with high pressure during the season?
I always try to have a chat with the guests at the beginning of the charter to build a relationship with them, understand what they want and let them know that I’m going to do my best to achieve that. Because sometimes it happens that you’re cooking what you think they want based on the preference sheet but they are often written by personal assistants, house managers, etc. and sometimes they don’t really reflect what the guests want once they’re actually onboard. So, it’s always helpful to check with them and make sure that they’re heard.
It also helps to have everything prepared in advance. If I’m going into ‘battle’ I want to have all my ‘weapons’ prepared and ready to go. I have everything cut in advance the way I want it so, when we do go into service, I’m not flapping about looking for spoons or cloths. It’s all there in front of me ready to go. This leaves me with less pressure and makes the process more enjoyable.
What would be your top tip for a smooth partnership between Superyacht Chef and Chief Stewardess?
What happens is that you have two heads of departments that are very passionate about what they do and stubborn on the way to do it, so sometimes there is a discrepancy in how they deal with things. I think that, as I’ve matured in the industry, I’ve learned that you have to understand what the other person does and take the road that ultimately makes things easier.
I will still say the things that I think need to be said but I will say them in a more professional and polite manner and will find the right time to say it. This wouldn’t have been the case a few years ago when I would tend to get more emotional about things, so I’m glad I deal with things in a more constructive manner now. For example, if during service someone tries to take a plate before it’s ready, now I just tend to just say “Hey, could you just wait a minute, I still need to put some stuff on that” in a more calm way.
What is the key to being a successful Superyacht Chef?
A Superyacht Chef needs to be patient and not set in his/her ways but flexible and open to change. You need to not be personable with your food to an extent that it upsets you if someone doesn’t like what you’ve cooked.
What I mean by that is, be very passionate, be very giving and in love with what you do but if someone doesn’t like something that you’ve made, don’t go off and sulk or let it ruin your day. Brush it off, go to the next thing and try to make that thing exactly how the client wants. That’s is. You have to have that kind of mentality to go far in this industry. There is no time to dwell on things you can’t change.