Sushi Master Nick Walden

Sushi Master Nick Walden

Nick is a phenomenal Kiwi chef. His food is plated beautifully and his passion for the art and the ingredients he uses shines through. In addition, chef Nick Walden recently completed a 6 week sushi course at Tokyo Sushi Academy.

Check out his private chef website at www.oversea.co.nz where he has started blogging about his chef adventures. He also uses that platform to advertise his expertise and his plates. Check it out!

How easy was it for you to land your first gig as a yacht chef?

Some people are going to hate me for this. But I landed right on my feet with my first gig.

I had travelled to Antibes in the spring time and joined the hundreds of other yachties doing the rounds with the crew agents. It was there that I was drowning my hopes of that ideal position over a pint at the Hop Store. I couldn’t help but listen to stories from other green yachties. They spoke of how long they had been looking for work.

Much to my surprise in my third week, I found myself chatting to a Head Chef of a 97M. This was after a 2 euro bottle of rose and baguette lunch! He asked If I could fly to Switzerland to do a trial in the owner’s villa.

After a three day trial I was flown back to Antibes where I received an email welcome letter with paid flights to Singapore!!!

The feeling of returning to the Hop store so I could update my fellow greenies was unreal. I had landed a gig on a world travelling yacht in a rotational position.

Just goes to show being in the right place at the right time and a good attitude can get you places…

What are some of the best foodie destinations you have travelled to as a super yacht chef?

Mexico was one of my favourite… Being based in Ensenada where the street food scene is world-class. I ate freshly shucked shellfish with a plethora of chili sauces, lip smacking salsas and a hit of lime.

Ensenada also had a local that claimed to be the inventor of the margarita. Boy were they killer!!. Best matched with the crispy fish tacos with hand-pressed tortilla, crema, chilli and lime.

How have you incorporated the flavours and tastes of your travels in dishes?

Travelling and tasting everything is the best way to pick up inspiration for your dishes. I think of it like a ‘flavour bank’.

The more different restaurants, food stalls and sampling new ingredients at markets you can taste things, the more “taste money” in the bank. It’s about having a good understanding of these flavours help when designing a dish.

What travel/ food/cooking classes combo is still left on your bucket list?

I am very lucky to have experienced many different cuisines from around the world, I would be interested in doing a chocolatier coarse possibly in Belgian. I think it is a true craftsmanship and who doesn’t like chocolate?

Also, a raw food course called Plant lab… the way that trends are going and what people are demanding onboard for their daily meals it would be a handy style to develop.

Editors note: PlantLab , unfortunately, is no longer. Bascially, Matthew Kenney sold it, and it went under recently due to embezzling. Click the link to read more. If any readers have suggestions on other schools offering exceptions raw food plant based classes, please let us know, and we will add it here.

Can you tell us more about the Tokyo Sushi Academy course you are doing now

I actually started the course last year at Tokyo Sushi Academy. I was on a short stopover from NZ to Europe. At that time I was just completing the sashimi module which is what drew me to the course. The full course is a total of 6 weeks broken into three modules: Sushi 4 weeks, Sashimi 1 week, Japanese cuisine 1 week.

After that, I had so much fun and enjoyed the sashimi module that I had to return to complete the remaining modules. I have a blog about the Tokyo Sushi Academy on my Culinary Experience page at Oversea.co.nz

What has been the most challenging day?

After three weeks you are expected to do an 2 practical exam. One is a Nigiri exam where you must complete three rounds of nigiri making. Each round you have 3 minutes to complete 12 pieces of sushi to qualify.

You are marked on technique, shape, and then the rice is weighed and must be within 2g each side of 15g. Sushi is all about technique and the feel of the fish and rice in the hands. It is tough to master.

What has been your favourite dish or ingredient to work with from the class?

Using seasonal Japanese fish is incredible. I loved being based in the heart of the Tsukiji fish market. This is where you get the freshest fish as it arrives. Some of the most interesting ingredients were very unique to Japan, including the preparation of the infamous Fugu (Blowfish) and live shrimp. In addition, I learnt how to kill an octopus and filleting Anago (conger eel)

Was there a single tip or trick that you have gained from the class that you can share?

Learning to use the Single bevelled Japanese knifes has changed the way I prepare fish forever.

For instance, there is so much respect given to each individual fish, right from how it is killed and stored to how it is transported. There are two main Japanese knives that you must master… The Deba and Yanagiba, you should be able to do all fish prep with these two amazing knives.

What does a normal day look like for you on charter?

Usually I’m up early to visit the local market. My owners require me to source and find fresh local produce and delicacies. We use agents to arrange a driver to pick me up from the shore and drive me to the local market. I do a quick round up of what I can gather and bring it back to the galley. It is there where the menu is formulated and the dishes represent the story of how it got to the plate.

What would you say is the most exciting thing about being a chef in the super yachting industry?

Being constantly on the move. Being able to use exotic and interesting ingredients. We get to be surrounded by skilled individuals, it not just about food for me. Similarly, it’s also the crew and making the most of interesting locations and exciting opportunities.

Do you have any advice for new yacht chefs coming into the industry from a restaurant background?

Yachts/captains/owners are not only looking for cooking skill level but also personality, attitude, willingness to do extra. In addition to being able to get along with fellow crew members.

What are your favourite Instagram accounts to follow for inspiration?

@mrnland – Josh niland  – beautiful fish preparation

@garethleighjenkins – edgy, beautiful presentation

@food_by_sean – Edgy, visual pleasing plates

@oversea_nz – Is where I post my food

You just launched your website www.oversea.co.nz, what inspired you to set this up?

Im obsessed about food and its experiences from around the world. Oversea represents my unique style and how I look at these culinary experiences.

For me, food is not only about nourishing our bodies and testing our taste buds; it’s about the way it makes us feel, the whole experience. From climate, preparation, tantalising our senses, creating memories, and bringing people together, making us happy.

If you were to gift someone one cookbook, what would it be?

Noma – It’s a classic…The pictures are so beautiful an inspire plating style and seasonality.

If you had to survive on one nationalities cuisine for the rest of your life, what country would it be?

Tough question but I could eat Malaysian food until I die. It has all the elements I love in food, spicy, salty, sour. It’s also heavily seafood based and a big influence of many cuisines including South East Asian, Indian, European flavours.

If you could convince the captain to drive the boat anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?

Probably Chile – I love Peruvian food and Chile has been on my bucket list for a while now. I feel it has the right mix of Food, culture, wine and experiences to keep my adventurous spirit happy for a while.

To read more about the Tokyo Sushi Academy, Chef Chris Assal also attended their course and discusses it with us.

Follow Nick Walden on his designated chefs insta page

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