And so in the tradition of hipster food vans, they created what is possibly the world’s first “food boat”, inspired by this glaring gap in the market.
Tara and Sasha Bouis aha moment came in the most stunning of settings, while they were anchored in their favourite bay near the US Virgin Islands in St. Thomas.
Hungry, but too tired to take a dinghy out to shore or think about cooking dinner they made do with microwaved popcorn and fantasized about pizza. Their concept for an on-boat pizzeria soon followed, despite the fact that neither of them had any idea how to make a pizza. A month before they opened, Tara found a cooking school on Staten Island called Goodfellas and undertook a week long course to get up to speed on making pizzas.
“Food trucks had become a part of everyday life, food boats had not. We knew that the concept was strange, but thought it could work because the food is very recognisable,” said Tara.
This is just another adventure in the couple’s life journey. Sasha ditched the traditional 9-5 life of his native Manhattan after feeling dissatisfied. He made his way to the Virgin Islands where he met Tara who he married in 2012.
After finding the perfect boat and naming it Pi, they realized it was housing a termite-infested nest. They soon got to work self-financing the entire restoration.
They fitted the boat with solar panel to power the appliances, like a 117kg Hobart dough mixer. They installed an electric oven that can produce four pies in 15 minutes and is powered by a diesel generator. Their weight scale needed to be a hung basket scale suspended from the ceiling so that measurements weren’t thrown off by the rocking waves.
“When cooking on boats, you have to be really careful about where you set things,” Tara said, “The last thing you want is to have a really big wave and have a knife go flying.” For this reason every kitchen tool needs to be secured and the pizza oven is fitted with heavy-duty latches to prevent pies from flying when the boat heaves.
The recipes include creative flavours like:
Rasta Mon (red curry coconut sauce, flaked coconut, snap peas, red bells peppers, and fresh mango); and
The Blumin Onion (made with lemon aoli instead of tomato sauce, leeks, radicchio, blue cheese and honey); and
The Dali Lama, a fan favourite that offers all the available ingredients (“Make me one with everything”).
They also incorporate fresh ingredients like local Caribbean lobster that can unusually be added and bartered.
The couple says on a busy day they can make up to 30 or 40 pizzas a day. They have no plans for more food boats, but have a new creation on the way – a baby daughter.
How would you spend your days if you quit the rat-race?