L1030605I was thrilled to have Chef Thomas Tolxdorf as a guest chef on Marina for the recent Caribbean Pearls cruise. He is the Executive Chef at the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island and one of the most respected chefs in the United States (and beyond!). I worked for Chef Tolxdorf at Salt restaurant a few years back, and I have always respected his passion for ingredients of impeccable quality.

What fun it was to visit Good Moon Farm in Tortola with Chef Tolxdorf and his enchanting wife. Our vehicle ascended from the port up to the ridge of this beautiful island and then slipped into four-wheel drive to take the dirt road to this scenic farm. Perched high on the side of a breathtaking hillside, Good Moon Farm is a biodynamic oasis of plants and vegetation that few chefs ever have the opportunity to experience. Our host, who manages the farm, walked us from plot to plot explaining how the planting is orchestrated around the lunar cycle.

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We strolled among climbing spinach and robust cabbage as well as bananas and okra. The beds were carved out of the sides of the steep slope and were beautifully tended with organic compost and lots of “island love.”

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As we wandered through the bok choy, beets, cassava, peas and eggplant, I kept nibbling on leaves of lettuce and arugula that were so delicious I could hardly contain myself.

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L1030648Before we left, our host showed us a new stone wall they were building to house yet another vest-pocket plot, and it dawned on us just how much work it takes to operate this farm on the steep ridge. The seedlings are all allowed to grow and flourish in fertilizer that we were told comes from every animal on the island, including the chickens in the coop who watch over the plots. (They were, by the way, the biggest and most beautiful chickens I have ever seen – and I grew up on a poultry farm!)

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We were invited to meet the farm’s owner, Aragorn, at his artist colony at Trellis Bay. We drove along the ridge road from which we could see Necker and Mosquito islands, and the view was astounding. As we approached Trellis Bay, we were greeted by the beautiful ironworks of Aragorn, many of which were made from old buoys.

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While we had plans to return to the ship, we decided to stay and enjoy an hour or so at the artist colony. Its lovely beach and many sailboats created a laid-back mood that we could not resist. We decided to have a lunch of snapper and grouper sandwiches and a vegetarian roti. We were so impressed with the roti that we were shown a YouTube video of the baker making this special bread.

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We had to scoot back for my 4:00 pm Joy of Grilling class, which has been one of our most popular during this Caribbean season. A few familiar faces joined us on this cruise to help us celebrate the first anniversary of the Bon Appétit Culinary Center, and their presence warmed my heart! I love to see my students return with stories of their new cooking and entertaining prowess!

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We ended the day with lots of great grilled treats, including quesadillas made with the spinach we harvested from Good Moon Farm!

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Bon appétit!

Chef Kelly

Executive Chef, Bon Appétit Culinary Center