Interview with Windstar Yacht Executive Chef Rohit Dimri

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Cooking on a yacht isn’t so different from cooking on land

Chef Rohit previously cooked for Norwegian Cruise Lines. 

I took a cruise on a Windstar yacht and everywhere I went I heard the guests talking about the food.  So I tracked down company’s executive chef, Rohit Dimri, and chatted with him about his early influences, the challenges of cooking on a yacht, and how he runs his kitchen.

The Daily Meal: How did you get into cooking?  What were your early influences?
Chef Rohit Dimri:
In college I was majoring in statistics and I visited one of my friends. His father was once a chef for one of the prestigious hotels in town and I saw a cookbook by Escoffier at his house. I took the book with me to read and it just changed my whole life. I was amazed with how a person with a few spices and vegetables could create a beautiful sauce. I left my college program mid-year and immediately took the admission test to go to culinary college. I have also been really influenced by my mom, who for me still is the best chef in world. She was not a professional chef but her traditional methods of cooking were also big learning tools for me.

What adjustments did you have to make in order to cook on Windstar yachts?
The advantage of Windstar yachts is that they are small luxury yachts where we can cook fresh meals the minute our guests order them with specific attention to each of the dishes we create. It’s exactly like you are cooking on land in a first-class restaurant. We take pride in ensuring that food is prepared freshly and with perfection. We also have to accommodate our guests who are on special diets because of allergies, lifestyle preferences like vegans, and so on. We also make adjustments to our menus creating some regional dishes like offering fresh fish or seafood sourcing them out in our ports of call.

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What kind of an atmosphere do you like to have in your kitchen and how do you create and maintain it?
To me, the kitchen is a place full of fun, stress, and inventions. You need to have equal balance between these things. There can be a lot of stress on the kitchen team when they have to deliver the best product to our guests in a timely fashion without compromising the food quality. So we have try to have fun with the team during work hours and also we also try to inspire them to always come to the kitchen and use their talents to create excellent dishes and bring their ideas for new dishes and new presentations.

What changes did you make when you came to Windstar from Norwegian Cruise Lines?
Coming to Windstar was for me like the opportunity to run my own first-class restaurant. We created the menus which were requested from information we gleaned from guest surveys and we also themed the menus based on our destinations giving them more of a local touch. I also changed the cooking style to one where we are cooking more food fresh a la minute as well as using more fresh local ingredients. I also started using organic ingredients, which I quite often find in local markets, especially in Europe.