When You’re Diane von Furstenberg’s Private Chef, All the World’s a Stove

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Even the most devoted New Yorkers sometimes escape the city, often for water. But designer Diane von Furstenberg and media mogul Barry Diller aren’t the types to summer in the Hamptons or winter in Boca Raton. Rather the pair set sail on their extravagant yacht Eos about five months of the year, and they take their private chef Jane Coxwell along for the ride.

After four years of cooking on the sprawling vessel, be it out at sea or docked in some far-flung port, South Africa native Coxwell has developed her own make-it-anywhere culinary style. When in port, she hits local markets for fresh ingredients to create simple-but-sparkling menus that feature whole grains, peak produce and global flavors—and can be executed in a galley kitchen. In her new cookbook Fresh Happy Tasty: An Adventure in 100 Recipes (William Morrow, 2013), Coxwell shares a surprisingly accessible approach that’s not just for feeding high-society types on the high seas.

Eos routinely circles the globe, and Coxwell’s kitchen revels in exotic ingredients. When Coxwell disembarks, she’s always armed with local money and a translator, the better to find inspiration and source the freshest produce for her menu. Visits to Vietnam are reflected in the rice noodle, avocado and beef salad; the Caribbean comes through in her killer fish tacos; and the Galápagos Islands inspired her Ecuadorian-esque ceviche.

But you definitely don’t need a billionaire blueblood to cook from this book.

“All over the world, people of all backgrounds enjoy simple food,” Coxwell says.

And it turns out that cooking at sea has a lot in common with cooking in Manhattan. “I’ve spent years in little galleys with limited amounts of time, which sums up people’s cooking experiences in New York City.”

The book’s bright salads, complex curries and interesting sauces would be welcome on any home cook’s table—even if that table is a tiny modular inside a skyscraper studio.

Adapted from FRESH HAPPY TASTY by Jane Coxwell
Serves 2 to 3
Habaneros pack serious heat, but refrigerating this salad takes the edge off, so don’t be scared to use as much as the recipe calls for—or more, if you dare.

1 cucumber, seeded, quartered lengthwise, and sliced on the diagonal
1⁄2 habanero chile, seeded and finely chopped
1⁄4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Squeeze of agave nectar
Juice of 1 lemon
Maldon or other flaky salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the cucumber, chile and onion in a bowl. Toss with the olive oil, agave nectar and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour or up to a day.

Want more recipes from chef Coxwell? Don’t miss her North African Salad.

Kate Findlay-Shirras

Kate is a non-fiction producer with a soft spot for the sea. She created BestFishForward.com to promote sustainable seafood practices in her community.

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