Friday, July 5, 2013

Victoria Allman - A Chef on the High Seas

When Victoria Allman took a year’s sabbatical from her job as a chef at one Calgary, Canada’s top restaurants, she never intended to become a world traveler.  She merely wanted to expand her horizons a bit and sample some different cuisines. But that was before she met her sea captain husband and took a job as a yacht chef.  Now, 14 years later, Allman has visited some of the world’s most exotic locales and collected many mouthwatering recipes. She shares both her recipes and her adventures with readers in two unique books – Sea Fare and SEAsoned.

Allman’s voyage from kitchen to writer’s desk began in Canada where she wrote food features for a Canadian magazine. When she moved to Fort Lauderdale and joined the crew of a luxury yacht, the magazine wanted stories about the places she visited. “I knew what I wanted to say, but not how to say it,” Allman explains. So she took some classes and joined a critique group.  Soon her columns were appearing in other travel magazines like “Dockwalk,” “OceanLines,” and “Marina Life.”  Then she hit on the idea of compiling some of her articles into a book. Seven years later, Sea Fare: A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean was published. 

Sea Fare, a book Allman describes as “an adventure travelogue,” is a collection of essays that focus on food and travel. But her concern about privacy issues prevented her from sharing some of her more colorful experiences. “Truthfully, I was worried about keeping my job and seeming disrespectful to people, so I ignored the funny situations the crew often found themselves in. I didn’t want to insult anyone or give away any personal secrets,” Allman explains. “Even though I received wonderful reviews,  everyone wanted to know the real story, the gossip.” So she decided to address this in her next book.

In SEAsoned: A Chef’s Journey with her Captain, Allman fictionalized her life. The stories are true, and Allman and her husband, Patrick, are still the main characters, but the adventures take place on a fictional boat with a fictional crew. Allman did this “to facilitate the story of Patrick becoming captain of his first yacht and all the craziness that goes along with such an uncontrollable situation.”  She admits she had more fun writing SEAsoned because she was free to tell her stories without worry. She also received help from other Florida writers. “The Florida writing community has been so supportive,” she says. “They pointed me in the right direction.” Allman even earned  Royal Palm Literary Awards from the Florida Writers Association for both books.

One of the distinctive features of Allman’s books are the recipes that end each chapter, recipes she learned from locals in the places she visited. According to Allman, “The recipes are 100 percent authentic. I was learning how to cook as I traveled. ” With this in mind, she planned to write a third book which would pick up where “SEAsoned” left off  - with Allman and the crew embarking on a world tour. Unfortunately, the tour had to be cancelled due to the yacht owner’s hectic schedule. “Life in yachting changes faster than the weather,” Allman says.

Not to be deterred, Allman changed course and is close to completing her third book, SEAside. It is the continuing story of Allman’s nautical journeys closer to home, in America and the Bahamas. The story focuses on the relationships between ten crew members living in close quarters as they serve an ever chaotic flurry of on-board guests. Allman says that her stories have been cited as “the ‘Downtown Abbey’ of Yachting.”

Allman hopes her books will open up the world for her readers. “I want to inspire people to travel more,” she says. “It’s hard to harbor hate and bigotry when you travel. It’s a big world, and we all have to eat. So despite our differences, we’re all connected in that way.”

For more about Victoria Allman, visit her website at

Next: Frank Cerabino - A Lighthearted Look at Florida Living


  1. Thank you Jackie for highlighting one of our most unique Florida writers. I absolutely love both of Victoria's books. I don't often reread fiction, but I've picked up Victoria's books over and over again. They've served as entertainment, research about specific places, and cookbooks - I have tried out several recipes.

    And to Jackie's readers - if you haven't read Victoria's books, what are you waiting for?


  2. I love Victoria's cooking memoirs. They're fun to read, even if you don't cook, and make good gifts for my friends who do cook. Wonderful recipes, ranging from the Caribbean to the South Seas, with Europe in between.

  3. Excellent post. Thanks for sharing. Her works sounds very intriguing.

  4. Terrific profile, as usual, by Jackie. Since I was also in Victoria's writing group, I can vouch both for her writing AND cooking talent. Our favorite nights were always when she was scheduled to read one of her fun pieces (and not JUST because she always brought yummies!)

  5. Thank you, everyone!
    I must say, I've been very lucky to find a fantastic job that creates exciting stories and unique adventures to write about. But, I couldn't have done it without the other Fabulous Florida Writers who have helped me along the way. The authors featured on this blog and the whole writing community in Florida is wonderfully supportive.
    Thank you, Jackie, for posting about SEAsoned and my life as a yacht chef!
    Until the next adventure...