Behind the scenes: interview with Mark Reid, head chef on charter yacht Illusion

We talk to Mark Reid, head chef on the motor yacht ILLUSION, available to charter with Burgess this winter in the Caribbean. Mark has worked previously on M/Y Pegasus (formerly M/Y Aviva) and M/Y Laurel, having started life as a trainee in a hotel outside London.

Q1. What is your favourite Caribbean ingredient and why?
The coconut. It's a great, versatile ingredient, gives a taste of the Caribbean to all sorts of dishes from soups, sauces, curries and cocktails. The fresh or dried coconut is used a lot in desserts as well. The water inside is also very good for you containing many vitamins, minerals, proteins and antioxidants, and provides an isotonic electrolyte. It's actually gaining popularity as a sport drink!

Q2. What would you say is unique about Caribbean cuisine?
Caribbean cuisine is a mixture of African, European, East Indian and Chinese cuisine, so it's quite unique in the world. A fusion of all these different tastes and ingredients brought from their original lands, with recipes handed down the generations. It's also quite regional. Different mixtures of people settling in different islands of the Caribbean, therefore some of the same dishes are all slightly different depending on where you are in the Caribbean.

Q3. What is the most inventive Caribbean dish you have created?
I like to take classic Caribbean dishes and add a little twist of my own to them. I can't say I've invented any Caribbean dishes but you probably wouldn't find them on many restaurant menus!

Q4. For those guests with a sweet tooth, which dish would you serve to satisfy them?
Coconut and honey fried bananas with a coconut and rum sorbet. Hot, sweet, crunchy and cool at the same time. Lots of Caribbean flavours.

Q5. Where do you like to obtain your ingredients while cruising the Caribbean sea? The local markets and local fishermen are always a good source of the freshest and sometimes unique ingredients. The fishermen can always be found bombing around on their boats in between the yachts selling their freshly caught tuna or Mahi Mahi. It doesn't get much better or fresher than that!

Q6. What would be your top tips for guests who want a beach BBQ?
A great daytime BBQ set up could include some garlic, chilli and lime marinated jerk chicken or yellowtail snapper on the grill. I would suggest some Caribbean influenced salads to complement the citrus and spicy flavours like papaya, mango and avocado salad. A cooler packed with fresh juices like guava and mango would be the perfect ingredients to add a splash of white rum to for those wanting to indulge in a cocktail.

Q7. Can you recommend particular drinks which accompany Caribbean cuisine?
For me, the best drink to have with Caribbean cuisine is a nice, cold, local beer. A Carib or a Presidente always go down very well. Of course you couldn't have anything Caribbean without a rum cocktail of some sort. There are literally dozens and dozens to choose from. Every island seems to brew its own rum. Once I have a piña colada in my hand I know I'm back in the Caribbean!

Q8. Where would be your favourite place to enjoy a leisurely lunch in the Caribbean?
For me, it has to be Karakter’s beach bar in St Maarten. The bar is an old converted bus on the beach next to the airport. It has a kitchen built next to it and is a very busy but chilled out beach bar. Big bean bags on the beach with very friendly Dutch people running it. The food is Caribbean/European fusion and the cocktails are well made. It has a great view of the yachts anchored off Simpson Bay beach and sometimes a very close view of the airplanes taking off and landing. Very popular with the locals and fellow yacht crew looking to chill on the beach.

VIEW FULL DETAILS OF CHARTER YACHT ILLUSION

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