We had the honor of talking with the amazing Australian Chef Lisa Mead about her long, illustrious career, her cooking books and workshops, her new podcast “Tales From a Luxury Yacht Chef”, how she adapted her business to the Covid age, and we even got 3 of her most delicious dishes, (all available here and on the magazine. THANKS, Lisa!)
1.Hi Lisa! Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am passionate about food and art, and based on my life to date, I think I probably have gypsy blood! I was born on the island of Penang (off Malaysia), and I have spent my years since visiting other islands around the world, primarily in my role as a luxury yacht chef. I am lucky enough to truly love what I do, and when I’m not cooking, I am creating paintings for clients and producing my line of lifestyle products @lisameaddesigns ( Instagram).
2. When/ how did you discover your love for cooking? I discovered my love for cooking when I lived in Singapore. As a child, we had a cook who had worked at the Chinese Consulate prior to working with us, and would create works of art on a plate! I loved helping her prep our meals, along with my mother, who was constantly experimenting with new types of cuisine.
3. What is your favorite cuisine? What about your favorite dish to prepare? If I had to pin it down, I would say Asian cuisine. That’s probably due to growing up in Asia, and I really feel like the flavours are like a party in my mouth! My favourite dish to prepare constantly changes, but for now, I am enjoying using traditional Caribbean recipes which is where I was based for the past 26 years prior to the pandemic. I am also incorporating Australian bush flavours, as I love using local ingredients from the area of wherever I am at the time.
4. We’ve all been affected by Covid-19 in various ways. How have your working days looked like in the past year?
This may be an overused word now, but pivoting my career was key. One minute I was floating around the turquoise waters of the British Virgin Islands on the private yacht I was cheffing on, the next I was back in Brisbane. Last year was spent working with my PR team, Evil Twin PR, to build my brand here in Australia, and work on pre-promotion of my upcoming cookbook Fine Dining Made Easy, Galley Gourmet With Chef Lisa Mead. I also set up cooking workshops in a fantastic commercial kitchen in Brisbane, which started as online classes when we were all locked down, and these have continued in addition to the in-person classes that are now possible. I’ve also launched Indulgence Day Sail yacht charters on the Gold Coast and Sydney Harbour, plus I created my own lifestyle label – Lisa Mead Designs. So a day in my life is currently very varied, and very busy!
5. You are set to launch bespoke day charter experiences in Sydney and Brisbane. Can you tell us a little about that?
My Indulgence yacht charters are about a day of spoiling you and your friends and family on board a luxury motor yacht either at the Gold Coast or Sydney Harbour.. Born from knowing that many of us are craving that holiday feeling, the charters enable a feeling of escaping and luxuriating on the water as if you’re on an overseas holiday. Guests have the opportunity to take part in a cooking workshop on board, or they can pre-order catering. Guests also have the option of booking live jazz or classical musicians to perform, plus we can provide on board beauty spa treatments, such as massage, facials, pedicures – the list goes on!
6. You also teach a lot of cooking classes and workshops. Can you tell us more about it?
My cooking workshops are created together with my client and their group, so each class is bespoke. I ask a series of questions so that I am then able to create a teachable menu that has been tailor made to the tastes of my client and their group. I use locally sourced ingredients, and the classes are as hands on people are comfortable with, and are available for anyone from the age of 12 years.
7. Traveling and cooking. That sounds like a great combination. What was your favorite place to work in/ travel?
I think one of my favourite places to travel and work would be the Iles des Sainte’s, off Guadeloupe, which is part of the French West Indies. A small group of islands with minimal tourism, think cobbled streets, small guest houses, and freshly baked French pastries resting on the windowsill. The only form of transport for hire is mopeds, so provisioning for the yacht was always a bit of a balancing act! The islands are the perfect combination of Caribbean and French culture.
8. Who inspired your career the most? Any mentors?
My Mum, plus Ah Moy, our cook in Singapore, and in more recent times, Curtis Stone! I feel a kindred spirit for his freestyle of cooking and his sense of adventure.
9. What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a career as a chef?
Make sure you are truly passionate about food. The hours can be tough and it’s physically hard work, but if you are truly passionate, then those things can be put into perspective. On the plus side, the sky’s the limit for how you choose to approach your cheffing career, whether you choose to base yourself in one location, like I am currently in Australia, or you choose to be a gypsy like I have been in the past (when it’s again possible!). You also have the opportunity to continue to learn new techniques for as long as you are cooking.
10. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. Where can our readers learn more about you and your journey?
You’re so welcome, what a pleasure! It would have only been better if we were chatting over food! If anyone wants to know more, I am active on Instagram – Chef Lisa Mead, and Facebook – Chef Lisa Mead and Design, and via my website www.lisamead.com which is where people can pre-order my first cookbook or check out my online classes. Also you can be the first to know that I am also working on a memoir – “Tales Of A Yacht Chef” – and details for this book will be shown on my website in time also, and I just launched my podcast “Tales Of A Yacht Chef”.
With 26 years of experience aboard luxury yachts, serving up epicurean delights to royalty, heads of state and celebrities across the Meditteranean and the Caribbean, Lisa is considered one of the finest chefs in the world.