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I almost blew it. 

On a recent charter in the Exumas, when asked if I was game to try the chef’s special huevos rancheros, I nearly opted instead for plain scrambled eggs. (Hey, even the most adventurous palates crave something basic once in a while.) Later, as I peeled away layer after delicate layer of bacon, tomato, avocado, jalapeño and savory feta to reveal two perfectly over-easy eggs, I realized just how costly my stubborn nature might have been. Thank goodness for peer pressure.

Chef Daniela Sanchez - Huevos Rancheros

Chef Daniela Sanchez' delectable fresh take on huevos rancheros

Colombian-born Daniela Sanchez, who is the chef aboard 162-foot (49.3-meter) Christensen Remember When, has been rewarding fortunate palates since she joined the yachting industry six years ago. With cuisine spanning classic to avant-garde, she turns a weeklong charter into an exploration of ethnic flavors and global ingredients, preparing everything from zesty, Latin-inspired delicacies to full-on French fare.

“Anyone can follow a recipe and make amazing food,” Sanchez says. “I always try to think it further, beyond the salt and pepper, because I love working with herbs and fresh ingredients. It’s hard [for me] to pinpoint a specialty. I enjoy so many different types of food, but Mexican and Thai have a special place for me. The cilantro, the lime, the sugar, the spices—all together—it’s how I like to cook.”

Chef Daniela Sanchez - ceviche

Peruvian seafood ceviche leche de tigre style, tangy coconut lime marinade, sliced mango and avocado. (Photo by Quin Bisset, courtesy of Churchill Yacht Partners)

After earning her culinary degree in Toulouse, France, Sanchez refined her craft working beside top chefs in the high-end hotels and restaurants of Cannes, Corsica, Mallorca and Saint-Tropez, settings that might pique anyone’s curiosity for yachting.

“I didn’t grow up on the water, but I always wanted to live in a vacation destination,” Sanchez says. “I’d see the yachts anchored offshore and wonder what it was like to work on one.”

She’d soon find out. After a job recommendation from a friend in the industry, she never looked back. The continuity of being a charter chef remains one of Sanchez’s favorite aspects of the job.

Chef Daniela Sanchez - Octopus Chorizo

Braised and char-grilled Spanish octopus with chorizo, pepita-lime pesto, cannellini bean puree and sauteed potatoes. (Photo by Quin Bisset, courtesy of Churchill Yacht Partners)

“As a restaurant chef, your days are divided in two—the day shift and the evening shift—so there’s a lot of coming and going,” she says. “In charter, I get to work where I live.”

With no yachting background, seasickness was among Sanchez’s initial challenges in adapting to life afloat: “I had to take lots of pills at first, but I’ve gotten better. It’s not really a problem now.”

Staying in shape isn’t a problem, either. “I spend most of my day cooking, so I tend to have small meals throughout the day,” she says. “I’m constantly grazing as I cook, so I’m never really hungry. It can be a little strange to try certain foods at odd times of the day, like when I have to prepare a sauce for a meat dish in the early morning. It’s not exactly a normal breakfast flavor, but I still have to taste it.”

Chef Daniela Sanchez

Chef Daniela Sanchez, M/Y REMEMBER WHEN (Photo by Quin Bisset, courtesy of Churchill Yacht Partners)

Interestingly, her greatest challenge is cooking for the crew. “They’re a well-traveled group, with lots of preferences—and of course they’re used to having top chefs cook for them, so they know all about good food,” she says with a laugh.

Perhaps the only thing able to top Sanchez’s food is her inventive presentations, such as the “potted-plant” dessert in this month’s menu. It is one of Sanchez’s most-requested creations.

Chef Daniela Sanchez - Potted Plant Dessert

Mint-infused chocolate milk pudding with Oreo dust, served 'potted-plant' style. (Photo by Quin Bisset, courtesy of Churchill Yacht Partners)

“To me, it’s like art,” she says. “My mother is an artist, and if I wasn’t [a chef], I would have been an artist too. The flavor is the most important thing, of course, but I’m always thinking about the presentation. How can I make this look amazing on the plate? On a charter, you want to show the guests so many things, but it really comes down to seven lunches and seven dinners. With each meal, it’s about showing the guests a culinary experience they’ll never forget.”

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