From the high-powered world of international banking to the low-key idyllic cruising grounds of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Iris MÃ¶sing, long-time partner Henry Metz and ten-year-old daughter, Luana, love chartering their 75-foot ketch, Shaitan of Tortola. It’s a career and lifestyle where MÃ¶sing excels especially as an award-winning chef.
Hailing from Hamburg, Germany, MÃ¶sing worked in the heart of the city’s banking district and was poised for a promotion that would see her managing over 300 people, when Metz invited her to sail to the Caribbean. This wasn’t a whim on Metz’s part. Although he had earned a civil engineering degree, experience as a navigator in the German Navy and a short stint in the Caribbean working as a sailing instructor beckoned him to a life on the sea.
“I’d never sailed before and here we went, 36 days from the Canaries to Antigua, on a 29ft sloop with only a sextant for navigation,” says MÃ¶sing, who like Metz is now a licensed captain.
The two sailed north to St. Thomas with expectations of Metz working as a captain and MÃ¶sing as a stewardess. But MÃ¶sing’s calling as a chef soon proved itself.
“We were in St. Thomas for Christmas and the galley in our 29-footer was too small for a goose, so I made a duck on a little alcohol-fueled cooker with all the trimmings,” MÃ¶sing explains.
The aroma of the heavenly holiday meal attracted a friend passing by in his dinghy who told her of a chef’s job available the very next day. The charter was an immense success, even though, as MÃ¶sing says, she didn’t speak a word of English and had no idea what Americans liked such as bacon and egg breakfasts.
“This is how we got the idea that we would buy our own yacht and do charter ourselves,” says MÃ¶sing.
Three years later, in 1989, MÃ¶sing and Metz bought a Morgan 50 in Clearwater, Florida, named her Relax, sailed her to the Caribbean, sheltered her without a scratch in Culebra during Hurricane Hugo, and showed in the Virgin Islands’ Charteryacht League’s fall show. It was at this show that MÃ¶sing’s culinary talents really shone.
“Jan Robinson talked me into entering the Grand Marnier Culinary Competition,” she says. MÃ¶sing entered a spectacular hazelnut-crusted veal tenderloin with potato croquettes. The chef from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, who was flown in to judge, scored a tie between MÃ¶sing and another charter chef. On a second tie-breaker tasting, MÃ¶sing earned second place as she didn’t have a chaffing dish to keep her dish warm and at peak flavor. She loved the fun, got hooked on the competition and camaraderie, and over the next several years earned five more medals for placing in the top three with her extraordinary cuisine.
MÃ¶sing teamed her natural ability in the galley with the help of friend, German-based Global Master Chef, Markus Haxter, who took her under his wing and helped her to plan her first charter menus. Then in 1995, she and Metz bought Shaitan of Tortola, a well-designed vessel with a large galley thanks to a previous owner who loved to cook.
“I have a household refrigerator and two household freezers onboard,” MÃ¶sing says.
Based out of Bequia, MÃ¶sing has sourced out a stable of local farmers who provide her with fresh organic produce on a regular basis. What these fruits and vegetable may lack in picture perfect perfection, they make up in unbelievable flavor.
“Here in the Grenadines, you never know what you’ll find when you go to the market,” she says. “I make my own breads, sausages and gravies and stocks. My preference is for high-grade US meats, and fish and shellfish come fresh from the fishermen to our yacht.”
The galley on Shaitan of Tortola is open so that guests can see MÃ¶sing at work.
“Some other chefs tell me it’s too much work to do it this way, but I love my job,” she says.
Indeed, MÃ¶sing does work hard. For example, her record for breakfast is 13 orders of Eggs Benedict – including perfectly poached eggs, homemade hollandaise and caviar on top.
Beyond the food, table-settings on Shaitan are lush owing to MÃ¶sing growing up and helping with her parent’s nursery business.
MÃ¶sing has continued, though self-teaching and with the help of culinary-inclined friends, to perfect her skills in the galley. In fact, in 2009, she won third place at the Antigua Charter Yacht Show’s Boat International Buffet Brunch Chefs competition for the best use of coffee beans with a homemade coffee liqueur.
“We love to charter and enjoy many repeat guests,” says MÃ¶sing. “We pick up in St. Lucia because of the international airport or St. Vincent and sail around the Grenadines. It’s beautiful here, so tropical. Not commercialized and the Tobago Cays are magical.”
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.