“People have been trying on and off the concept of selling food afloat in this area. It’s a tough business. You need to put a lot of skills together – mechanic, electrician, business person, sailor and chef.”
There’s nothing better than sitting seaside forking into a fresh seafood meal. Now imagine that same experience on the sea itself. South Florida native, Justin Lindemann, has combined the age old love of delicious dining with the newfound trend of a food truck to serve fine food afloat aboard his new Food Yacht.
“A few years ago, I went with some friends to the Bahamas on their catamaran,” says Lindemann, who was born and raised in Miami Beach and grew up as a self-termed ‘dinghy rat’ spending his days fishing and scuba diving before moving north to Jupiter. “We were sitting there, on the hook, watching the sunset and enjoying a meal of fresh fish and lobster. It was an incredible moment and from that point on I knew this is where and how I wanted to cook.”
Lindemann is a chef by profession. He’s worked for the past decade at Little Moir’s Food Shack, a top rated seafood restaurant in Jupiter. It’s here he’s learned to take fresh seafood and experiment with a full palate of flavors. For example, one of his favorite dishes is variations on traditional Mexican ceviche such as an Italian-style with goat cheese, lemon and sundried tomatoes. While happy working at the Food Shack, there has long been a part of Lindemann that has wanted to get back out on the water to combine his love of the sea and cheffing. Thus, the concept of the Food Yacht was born.
“I wanted to find a boat that I could take people out on and have room to cook as well. The first lead took me up to Sanford in Central Florida. There was a 60-foot 1980-built aluminum-hull Lazy Day houseboat that was tricked out with things like flat screen TVs in every room. It would have been perfect, and it’s now a B&B, but I knew there was no easy way to tow her 170 miles down the St. Johns River. The logistics weren’t there. I needed something that would be easy to drive and dock. I found it over in Naples…a 40-foot long pontoon boat that’s 14 feet wide, with bathrooms, air-conditioning and a nice teak table on top for dining,” says Lindemann, who holds a U.S. Coast Guard Master’s License.
Lindemann spent several months working on the custom-build Destination Yachts Top Deck model. He installed a small kitchen and everything else needed to pass all state inspections for what is technically termed a mobile food dispensing vehicle. A year and a half ago he launched with his first group of paying passengers celebrating a friend’s birthday. The menu? Crab cakes, sushi rolls, shrimp flatbread, blackened scallops and pan sautéed fish served with a blue cheese topped iceberg wedge, and berries and whipped cream for dessert.
Through his connections with the restaurant, Lindemann has relationships with local fishermen, each specializing in a type of fresh fish such as tilefish, vermilion snapper or Spanish mackerel (which he uses to make his signature Smoked Fish Dip). He also adds fresh kale, cucumbers, tomatoes or even starfruit from his home garden.
Today, Lindemann offers week night dinner cruises for up to six people. He heads up the Intracoastal Waterway or down to cruise around Singer island. On Sundays, the Food Yacht takes on more of a food truck persona. Lindemann serves to boaters and paddleboarders upscale take-out food: conch salad with chips, fresh fish, tuna or shrimp wraps, and shrimp cocktail, either traditional spicy or with lemon, garlic and thyme. He also sells safety equipment like life jackets, flares, first aid kits as well as hats, sunglasses and sunscreen. He positions the boat between the A1A and US1 bridges over the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter, west of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum.
“People have been trying on and off the concept of selling food afloat in this area. It’s a tough business. You need to put a lot of skills together – mechanic, electrician, business person, sailor and chef. I’ve always been hands-on and like to learn and do things for myself. Most importantly, I like to cook and wow people. Now I have a chance to do that on the water,” Lindemann says.