From journalism and geology to chemistry and cooking, Jemma Harrison is constantly reinventing herself.
The 35-year-old chef from Lincolnshire, England, laughs a lot while she is preparing meals in the galley aboard 180-foot (54.6-meter) Vitters Marie.
“I have always been obsessed with food,” she says. “My mom was hopeless in the kitchen; maybe my love of food was passed on from my grandfather, who was a cook in the army.”
Harrison’s molecular gastronomy skills are a world apart from her grandfather’s bangers and mash in the mess hall. She has been aboard Marie for nearly two years and thrives on presenting charter guests with a variety of dishes, some of which she learned in India, Japan, Spain and France. In the molecular gastronomy arena, just two of her memorable offerings are king prawn carpaccio and shallot pearls.
Her route to becoming a professional chef was circuitous. After university, she spent four years as a radio journalist for the BBC, doing investigative reports in the Yorkshire countryside. Cooking was always a personal passion, but she never considered it a serious profession. When her other passion—snowboarding—took her to the French Alps, she supported her lift tickets with chef stints at chalets. She balanced her winter play with a summertime love of the sea, which led her to chef positions aboard yachts in the Mediterranean.
Another of her talents is the sous vide method, which involves cooking food slowly in a vacuum-sealed pouch at low temperature. “It is a great way to go aboard a yacht, because if your guests are late, the meat will keep its texture and flavor perfectly,” she says.
In addition to cooking aboard Marie, Harrison owns and runs Funi Wear in the U.K., producing beanies and winter garments.
“I have a bunch of grannies knitting for me, and we even make gear for the official British snowboard team,” Harrison says.
She also started “The Galley Gang,” a group of 100 chefs in Antigua that rents a villa for cook-offs. Harrison hopes to expand the group beyond the Caribbean island.
“It has been amazing to connect to other chefs in person and on social media to get inspiration,” she says, “rather than staring at a cupboard all day every day in your own galley.”
For more information: Burgess Yachts, burgessyachts.com, or any charter broker
Go behind the scenes with Chef Jemma Harrison of 180-foot Vitters sailing yacht Marie.
Here she prepares king prawn carpaccio, sous vide fillet of beef with foie gras croquette and a passionfruit-hazelnut tart as seen in Yachts International's Cellar & Galley.