Great news aboard S/V Good News â€¦ The winner of the November Virgin Island Charter Yacht League Culinary Contest held at the Yacht Haven Grande isâ€”Chef Debbie ‘Debs’ Dickens.
The culinary contest provides an opportunity for yacht chefs to show their talents. The thrust of the contest this year was:
Your charter guests will be arriving at your yacht early afternoon (they missed lunch) and have requested some dishes that are nutritious and delicious or health smart. Especially, they are looking forward to enjoying Virgin Islands dishes.
Debbie Jane Dickens was born in Durban, South Africa, in 1977. During her urban childhood, Debbie was a gymnast. In fact she thinks she double somersaulted into the world. For ten years she trained and competed nationally and internationally on the South African gymnast team.
The middle child, Debbie’s older sister is a doctor while her younger brother manages a hotel in Wales. This, she notes, makes her feel like the black sheep of the family.
After enough somersaults, Debbie took a four-year marketing degree at the IMM Graduate School of Marketing in Durban, where she matriculated early having crammed the last year’s course into six months. On graduation, she worked as sales manager in a number of organizations. Transferred to Johannesburg, she was head-hunted by Stat Medical, where she became area Sales Manager.
Love at first sight! After sky diving one day, the future award-winning chef bumped into Peter Dickens, who invited her to go horse riding on his farm. Although she had never been on a horse, Debbie agreed. Her riding companion stayed at her side to ensure her safety and has been there ever since. In 2006, just six months after they rode out together, the couple married.
Debbie says she is very close to her parents, and that after finding out she was marrying so quickly, her father said: “Promise me one thing that if it doesn’t work out you will go back to work in a year.”
That was seven years ago.
Having quit her job, Debbie joined her husband on his dude ranch (www.satrails.com) where her marketing skills became invaluable, organizing events, planning and catering meals.
Peter Dickens had always loved to sail and belonged to the Point Yacht Club in Hartebeesport Vaaland, Durban. He also owned two Mistrals. On day, while walking the dock, they saw the 56ft catamaran Good News. Knocking on the hull they met Michael Yaw, the owner. He was planning to take the boat down the Wild Coast of South Africa and across to the Caribbean.
After much discussion, the adventure-loving ranchers arranged for their business to be managed by long term, loyal employees and, in 2008, moved aboard to run GOOD NEWS.
Passionate about food and cooking, Debbie says that she loves challenges and when taking on any project she is at her competitive best. To learn her culinary skills she attended cooking schools, studied, and learned a lot online. Her favorite T.V. show is Iron Chef.
In the galley, The Flavor Bible, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, is perused daily.
Besides cooking, Debbie enjoys photography, plays the saxophone and keyboard. The husband and wife team also are dive masters.
What makes it all worthwhile?
“We live life to the full and find the positive side to every event and always make time to help others,” says Debbie. “We are blessed to have this life and have much to be grateful for.”
DEBBBIE’S WINNING MENU:
A Day At The Beach Cocktail
30ml Coconut Run
100ml Orange juice
Shake rum, amaretto, and orange juice with ice cubes and strain into a highball glass, pour over crushed ice. Top with grenadine and garnish with local fruit.
1 loaf bread, white, sliced
1 star anise
1 cinnamon sticks
3 whole cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup oil
1 onions, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander ( seeds)
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons turmeric/saffron
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon clove powder
2 teaspoon fine black pepper
2 tomatoes, medium, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground ginger
6 curry leaves
2 potatoes, large, in cubes
Brown your meat really well. Add onions, oil, ginger and garlic and fry until it’s nearly glassy.
Add the rest of your spices (excl. tomatoes and potatoes)
Cook and stir continually so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan, +/- 15 min @ low heat.
Add tomatoes and potatoes and pressure cook for 45 minutes.
You may need to thicken the sauce base with some corn starch if it’s too runny.
Take four slices of the bread, butter all slices and stack them together.
Cut the stack into triangular quarters and hold each small stack together with toothpicks.
Butter and grill on all sides.
Take a melon-baller (or carefully use a knife) and make a hollow in each stack, leaving the bottom slice as a base. Scoop hot goat curry into the hollows and let it overflow for effect.
Top curry with a dollop of your fruity mango chutney.
FRUITY MANGO CHUTNEY RECIPE
1/2kg mango and apples mix, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup raisins
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vinegar
250 gms ginger finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped, 1 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients and give the mixture to boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes until the mixture thickens.
5 large mangoes
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup fresh lime juice
zest from 2 limes
1 tbs grated ginger
Blend all ingredients and place into a freezer safe bowl. Freeze for 8 hrs, but stir it every 30 min for the 1st 4 hrs to prevent the formation of ice crystals.
- Debbie Dickens, S/V Good News
- Rob Thunder, S/V Sweetest Thing
- Kathy Ray, S/V Windstar
The event was sponsored by: All At Sea Magazine, Gourmet Gallery, Dionysus Wine Distributors, LLC, Belgian Chocolate Factory, Bimini Bay Resort (Bahamas), and Ship to Shore Cookbooks.
Captain Jan Robinson holds certificates from the Culinary Institute of America, The Ritz Cooking School, and the Cordon Bleu. Her Ship to Shore Cookbook Collection is available at your local marine or bookstore. Or visit www.shiptoshoreINC.com email [email protected] or call 1-800-338-6072 and mention All At Sea to receive a discount.