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J Composites 2022 - J45 v4 LEADERBOARD

Don't just cook - Create wonderment!

by Sail LUNA 24 Oct 2022 07:13 UTC
Tuna Tartare © Sail LUNA

You know you have struck sailing-gold when you are in the good hands of husband-and-wife duo Captain Nim and Captain Fabiola of Sail LUNA. Nim is an Israeli Air Force combat veteran, a United States Coast Guard certified captain and an experienced PADI divemaster. He's sailed through the famed Suez Canal in Egypt and across the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Aegean Seas, and the Atlantic Ocean. He's lived and worked across the Caribbean and is familiar with the bustling ports and local rum distillers.

Nim's first mate, chef and wife, Fabiola, has a Puerto Rican heritage. Fabiola graduated with a degree in business and, in her previous life, worked in wealth management before resigning to her call of life at sea and becoming a United States Coast Guard certified captain also. She grew up on boats with an island-girl sense of freedom.

The husband-and-wife team are naturally hospitable and welcoming, making voyages around the Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos a pleasurable foray into sailing. Fabiola has an ingrained love of cooking and has made endless connections with local food providers across the islands. She's explored many local markets so she can create mouthwatering dishes for her guests using her own recipes. Not only is Nim the north to Fabi's south, but he's also an award-winning mixologist (BVI Boat Show) who creates sunset-worthy and pairing cocktails from locally distilled rum, freshly squeezed indigenous juices and homegrown fresh herbs.

What are some of your favourite dishes that you create for guests, and why?

I love exploring the islands for food. The whole process of shopping for ingredients is part of the inspiration. There is something magical about wandering through the local markets, listening to the sounds of busy vendors and haggling buyers, the visual appreciation of the raw ingredients and, of course, the Caribbean fragrances that entice you even with your eyes closed. My cooking style is inherently simple; I like to keep the essence of the ingredients. If you want a great-tasting dish, it's essential to have the freshest ingredients.

I'd describe my dishes as comfortable, healthy and simple. They are all accented with flavours synonymous with the Caribbean, such as creamy avocados, sun-ripened tomatoes, garlic and citrus juice. I love playing with fragrant herbs like cilantro, culantro and oregano.

I design the menus for each charter based on the guest preferences disclosed upon booking. The menu is not static. Sometimes, I'll pop into a local market and find some delicious fresh fish, meat and vegetables. I'll upgrade the menu to incorporate the new ingredients. Occasionally, our guests might catch a fish, so I'll include this in our lunch or dinner dishes, or even both if it's a huge catch.

I consider myself a versatile and very flexible chef. I'll work closely with our guests to create a personalised charter menu. I enjoy using locally grown ingredients and work hard to incorporate a farm or sea-to-table approach in my cooking. I strive to support local communities and use healthy and wholesome nutrition in my meals.

What are some of your most loved/requested dishes by guests?

At the end of each charter, we ask our guests about the highlights of their Sail LUNA experience and if they had a favourite dish. It seems to be a tricky question; our guests often say it's impossible to name just one, so they name their top five.

There are a few firm favourites. One that always appears in the top five dishes is the fish tacos. I've heard 'they are the best fish tacos I've ever had' many times! I prepare them with line-fresh Mahi Mahi marinated with a blend of garlic, paprika, the juice and zest of a lime, olive oil, salt and pepper. I make a crunchy and light slaw with shaved red cabbage, small diced yellow bell peppers, jalapeño, cilantro, a little cumin, salt and pepper; it's dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. Once everything is prepared, I pan-sear the fish and serve it with chipotle aioli and crunchy onions. They are delicious and go down a treat.

N.B. At the end of this article you will find links to download some of Fabi's wonderful creations.

Why do you prefer to source local healthy ingredients and how do you go about sourcing them?

Fresh produce and ingredients are essential not only because they taste great, but so we can support local small businesses. They offer great products and are transparent about their sources. You can't beat face-to-face visits, not only so you can build and nurture relationships but you can be honest and express any concerns you may have. I always like to go shopping myself; I have very exacting standards! It's important for me to choose the ingredients because I will be cooking during the charter week. I also have a garden on the boat where I grow my own herbs and microgreens. I use them in my dishes, and Nim uses them in his craft cocktails.

What relationships have you cultivated due to your local sourcing?

We are starting our fifth charter season in the Virgin Islands this year. Over the years, we have built and maintained relationships with fishermen and farmers from whom we will continue to buy fresh products. We have excellent communication with them; they love to share their latest catches and finds so I can include them on the menu. We also love to buy speciality ingredients from local businesses; visiting them is always fun. Because of the importance we place on our relationships, we often have new products to try.

In your experience, what are some of the best regions/areas to access local ingredients, and what ingredients are best within each region?

It depends on where we are working. We mainly work in the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean but occasionally offer charters to the Grenadines. I love it when the fishermen come to our boat with their catches. It doesn't get fresher, and our guests love the experience. All of the islands have fresh produce and fish markets. When you buy what's in season, it's deliciously fresh.

Can you explain a bit more details about your global cuisine cooking style and influence from a life well-travelled? What is your favourite regional influence to cook off of?

Every meal is intended to be a gastronomical discovery, a journey through refined homemade dishes and genuine ingredients. When our guests are aboard LUNA, nothing is random. I introduce dishes, ingredients, and flavours they have probably never tried before. Many of the ingredients are inspired by our Caribbean, European and Mediterranean heritage. I enjoy trying new dishes, discovering new ingredients, visiting a local market, street vendor or restaurant, and watching locals prepare their food.

My cooking style is a blend of international, with a generous hint of Spanish and Italian cuisine. I tend to showcase light, fresh, flavoursome and local ingredients in my dishes. I love challenging myself by playing with different styles and blending the old with the new.

Please share with us where you've travelled and your favourite locations that you've gained the most culinary influence from. And how that influencer impacts the way you cook today?

I've visited many countries in Europe, South America and Asia. I have been influenced most by some of my favourite places, such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Argentina, Mexico, and Thailand.

Food has always been a passion of mine! Wherever I travel, I am always on the hunt for great food. It can be from high-end, white tablecloth restaurants to hole-in-the-wall or street food; what matters is the food they serve.

What are some of your favourite culinary/best culinary learning experiences while travelling?

I like to try cooking classes when I travel. I love learning about new ingredients, cooking techniques and dishes. I use what I have learnt and incorporate it into my kitchen. We usually go to the market to buy the freshest local ingredients and then to the kitchen to prepare a beautiful meal.

On several occasions, I've been in a restaurant and discussed the food and the ingredients with the waiting staff. They surprised me with a visit from the chef, who sometimes even invited me to the kitchen!

Explain a few challenges of becoming an award-winning chef (BVI Boat Show) on the high seas?

On a boat, you have limited space, tools, power, storage, and availability of products; you need to be able to work magic with what you have. Planning is crucial. Once you are on charter, you can't pop into your local store for provisions. You learn how to be flexible and improvise.

Have you always loved cooking? Do you remember what sparked your love for cooking?

I have loved cooking since I was very little. It has always interested me, and I have great childhood memories of cooking with my father and grandmother. I watched cooking shows like Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, and Martin Yan.

My favourite time growing up was planning a special holiday menu and cooking it; I happily adopted that responsibility in my family. It was therapeutic for me! I work as a yacht chef and get to do what I love daily. It used to be my hobby, and now I can do it for a living. It is gratifying to serve good food you have cooked with lots of passion and love and see people's faces enjoying it. Giving me two thumbs up while eating and even applauding at the end of the meal is a thrill and an honour for me.

Husband and wife team Nim and Fabiola Hirschhorn charter Sail LUNA, a stunning customised 2019 Lagoon 450S, around the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. For more information about their charter holidays, please get in touch with them via

Download some of Fabi's recipes:

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