From Dawn ‘Til Bark
“Peanut butter, olive oil, flour, egg and a sprinkle of chamomile,” says Simon Phillips, head chef aboard the 213-foot (65-meter) Codecasa Double Down, as he describes a recipe for dog biscuits.
He and his wife, Ceri, are devoted to their black Labrador retriever, Bentley, and on a fluke created healthy snacks for him. The concept burgeoned into a business. Ceri, who also used to work on yachts, returned to the couple’s home in Cape Town, South Africa, and established From the Barkery, which sells gourmet treats for dogs, cats and horses, along with things like edible birthday cards and cakes with healthy ingredients. Chamomile is for calming, blueberries are for antioxidants, and so forth. Customers come from as far afield as Amsterdam and Hollywood.
Meanwhile, Phillips is aboard Double Down, continuing the vocation he’s embraced since he worked odd jobs in restaurants during and after high school in Cape Town.
“I worked in a massive restaurant in Germany washing dishes for 700 people a day,” he says, explaining how he got his start.
During compulsory military service in South Africa, he was assigned to the cooking detail. Then he earned a chef’s diploma and interned at the Peninsula All-Suite Hotel in Cape Town. The head chef there learned that Phillips spoke French (his father was a French professor, and his mother worked for Air France). Guest chef Christian Etienne hired Phillips for his restaurant in Avignon, France.
Through friends of friends, in 1995, Phillips landed a yacht chef job. Since then, he’s worked on boats as well as owned and operated South African establishments including a sports bar and a restaurant in a game reserve. He’s cooked aboard the 290-foot (88.5-meter) Oceanco Nirvana and the 208-foot (64-meter) Benetti Lionheart.
Phillips is experienced in styles of cooking that range from classical French to Mediterranean to Asian fusion and Middle Eastern. When cooking for a group of friends, he says, “I simply throw different things on the barbecue—springbok, octopus, ostrich, fish and veggies—and serve them immediately as they come off the grill.”
Phillips has been aboard Double Down for more than a year. He says the owners are interested in healthy cuisine, often preferring a robust lunch to a heavy, late dinner. With charter guests, he adapts; one celebrity guest had the galley going 24/7 as some people in the party maintained a daytime schedule while others worked, filmed and recorded all night.
Phillips shrugs and takes it all in stride. He has a personality akin to his Labrador, Bentley: friendly, eager and game for anything.
Chef’s Sampling Menu
Goat cheese and courgette cannelloni, nut bon bon, caramelized fig and clarified gazpacho jelly
Char-grilled octopus, citrus-marinated beetroot and asparagus with extra virgin caviar, and slow-braised black and white Catalan cassoulet
Millionaire’s shortbread, made with layers of chocolate ganache, caramel and biscuit; and Banoffee banana crumble with bitter orange sorbet
BONUS: Perfect Wine Pairings | Master Sommelier Virginia Philip
As we wring out the last weeks of summer, our palates crave crisp, clean whites, dry rosés and lighter reds. I refer to these wines as “poolside sippers,” and they’re also ideal for this month’s menu.
Goat cheese and courgette cannoli, nut bon bon, caramelized fig and clarified gazpacho jelly is a light and unique dish. Lucien Crochet’s 2016 Sancerre from the Loire Valley in France has a beautiful acidity that complements the food’s caramelized notes. This crisp, 100 percent sauvignon blanc wine is medium-bodied with notes of lemon, ripe grapefruit, green apple and acacia flower. There are slight notes of cut grasses with a bright minerality on the finish that brings out the summer flavors in the dish.
The char-grilled octopus, citrus-marinated beetroot and asparagus extra-virgin caviar with slow-braised, black-and-white Catalan cassoulet is a flavorful and substantial dish. Tinto Pesquera’s 2012 Reserva from Ribera del Duero, Spain, has enough weight to match the flavors and textures. This 100 percent tempranillo wine is aged 24 months in American oak barrels and 12 months in the bottle. It has a deep, elegant nose with intense notes of black cherry and red plum, and a touch of well-integrated oak. On the palate, well-rounded tannins and a perfectly integrated acidity frame the plum, currant, red fruit, toasted wood and anise flavors. The strong flavors of char-grilled octopus will work with the wine’s toasted wood and red fruit flavors, and the elegant tannins will balance the caviar’s saltiness. The wine’s fresh acidity will match the citrus marinade, and the overall bold fruit and toasted wood flavors will enhance the slow-braised black and white Catalan cassoulet.
For the dessert of millionaire’s shortbread, banoffee banana crumble and bitter orange sorbet, try Bisol’s Crede prosecco Valdobbiadenne from Lombardy, Italy—and add a 1-ounce pour of Cointreau. The refreshing combination will work well with the dish’s orange and banana notes, ending the night on a lighter note.
Lucien Crochet’s 2016 Sancerre from the Loire Valley in France $37
Tinto Pesquera’s 2012 Reserva from Ribera del Duero, Spain $35
Bisol’s Crede prosecco Valdobbiadenne from Lombardy, Italy $24