Q&A with Yacht Chef- Grace Dvornik

Q&A with Yacht Chef- Grace Dvornik

Want to know the best, most beautifully rewarding part about Flightess? The community. If it weren’t for Flightess I would have never crossed paths with Chef Grace Dvornik and man would my life be missing out.

Grace brings beauty, good vibes, and good tastes wherever she goes. She’s insanely passionate about her craft and it shows. She’s cooked for some of the most amazing individuals in the world as a yacht chef, but still makes time to bring those skills home to cook for grandpa and grandma too. Her heart and knowledge is boundless.

I hope you enjoy getting to know Chef Grace as much as I have.

Grace, tell us about where you’re from?

I was born and raised in Clearwater, Florida and live on Clearwater Beach when I’m not working on a yacht! I live 40 minutes from Tampa International Airport which is highly convenient because I fly a couple times a month traveling to and from work. In my humble opinion, TPA is the best and most efficient airport in the world.

What is your first or maybe fondest memory of cooking?

The first thing I remember cooking is scrambled eggs when I was about 2 years old. My grandma would sit me on the kitchen counter and give me a dozen eggs to crack into a bowl to keep me entertained. As a child, I loved baking and spending time in my grandparent’s kitchen learning family recipes. I’ve been able to modify some of those recipes and serve them to clients which I feel adds a personal touch and a unique narrative to the food.

Which Chefs inspire you?

My favorite celebrity chef is David Chang! I started listening to his podcast when I was in culinary school and love watching his Netflix show Ugly Delicious. I am obsessed with his Instagram videos featuring “culinary dark arts” cooking hacks and unapologetic opinions on topics like loving MSG and hating the InstantPot. I ate at his restaurant Momofuku Noodle Bar in Toronto and have a life goal to eat at every single one of his restaurants in New York City.

What is your favorite restaurant and why?

My favorite restaurant in my hometown is called Frenchy’s and they serve the best grouper sandwich you could ever hope to have! A man named Frenchy opened up the original restaurant in 1981 and since then, he has opened several more locations on the beach, each with their own specialty menu items. Frenchy’s also has a fleet of fishing boats to ensure all the restaurants are supplied daily with fresh, locally caught seafood. Whenever people visiting Clearwater Beach ask for a restaurant recommendation, I always insist they try out Frenchy’s!

35lb Wahoo Grace caught and served for dinner

How did you discover yachting and what drew you to it?

Growing up in Florida, I always had a love for the ocean and enjoyed surfing and competitive swimming as a kid. I remember reading an article in Surfing Magazine about working on sailboats in exotic locations and had a vague dream of doing it but never thought it would happen. After graduating from college with a theatre degree, I took a spur-of-the-moment summer job working on a sailing vessel in Maine and realized I was living my childhood dream. I absolutely fell in love with working on boats which propelled me into my yachting career. After 2 years on charter sailing vessels, I researched the yachting industry and obtained the needed credentials to get my first job onboard a private/charter yacht. Since then, I have had the privilege of working on a variety of sailing and motor yachts, as well as several private estates, for an array of high profile clientele.

Who is your dream charter guest to cook for?

I absolutely adore Tina Fey. I’ve listened to her audiobook Bossypants so many times that I can (and frequently do) quote the majority of it. I’m a huge fan of her writing, TV show 30 Rock, and of course, her work on SNL. She has a hilarious bit in her book about a cruise she took on her honeymoon and all the food she ate while onboard. I’m not sure she would charter a yacht, but I have a macaroni & cheese recipe as well as several desserts that I think she would love.

Tell us about a crazy request you’ve had while working!

By far, the craziest request I have ever received was when I had a Middle Eastern prince and princess as charter guests. The prince requested a sheep be brought to the yacht, slaughtered in front of him, butchered onboard, and cooked for dinner.

Fortunately, due to a miscommunication between the yacht’s concierge and a local farmer, I did not have to deal with a live animal. However, what must have been a 135lb. lamb arrived to my galley in 5 pieces in an industrial size garbage bag. It took me nearly 4 hours to butcher the pieces down to size using a hacksaw and boning knife.

In addition to butchering the lamb, I also dissected the innards and served the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver as a starter. Despite the immense challenge, I’m glad to say the dinner was a success and enjoyed by both the prince and princess.

What is your home-run, never fails, crowd-pleaser signature dish?

My signature dish (and personal favorite dessert) is key lime pie with graham cracker crust and I bake one on every trip! One of my favorite memories at work was finding out the boss’s favorite dessert was key lime pie. I made it as a surprise and will never forget the look on his face when I presented it to him! He gave me a hug later and said it was the best key lime pie he had ever had.

Share This Article