Lady J's Chef James Howard on Cellar and Galley

Reprinted with permission of Yachts International  |  By Andrew Parkinson

A chef and a master sommelier serve up the perfect pairings.

It’s the morning of the annual chefs’ competition at the Antigua Charter Yacht Show, and James Howard, first-time participant from the 142-foot (43.2-meter) Palmer Johnson Lady J, is as primed as a fuel pump at the Monaco Grand Prix. He’s been ready for weeks, if not his whole life. The 30-yearold chef has a passion for perfection in cooking technique, and his submission to the judges was a lobster delicacy.

“I’ve been working out that dish in my mind for about a month now,” Howard says. “I spent a great deal of time just with the cooking process, trying to find the exact temperature and timing where the lobster, at its cooking point, turns from translucent to opaque—the precise moment when you want to stop the cooking. I experimented at 45 degrees [Celsius] cooking it sous vide for half an hour. Then 50 degrees …then 51 … 52 … I got to 55. At 56 to 57, it started to get too opaque, so 55 was the magic number. I’d say we went through about seven or eight lobsters. The crew was definitely loving me that day.”

He’s hoping the judges will love him too. 

“They are used to seeing amazing dishes; you have to stand out,” he says. “You’re talking about a month’s work—so much passion—on a plate.” Originally from Yorkshire, England, Howard became hooked on gastronomy during an apprenticeship in Cannes, France, at age 16. After a few seasons as a chef in the South of France, he participated in a cook-off in Monaco that landed him in the galley of a yacht, which he enjoyed.

But, as the story typically goes at that age, he had to go see about a girl.

“She was studying in Paris, and we went out to this little restaurant, and the food was terrible—the wine was fantastic, but the food was terrible,” Howard says. “I was chatting with the owner over a couple of glasses of wine, and I told her what I could do with the menu. She said, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’ So at 21, I’m suddenly the head chef of a restaurant in Paris.”

After nearly three years of Howard stoking a reputation in the Paris foodie scene, the sea beckoned. He was young and curious about the world, and the charter lifestyle seemed a perfect fit.

“Moving around from place to place on a yacht, I get to play with more ingredients than with a land based job,” he says. “I love being able to modify the menu each week, depending on where we are. I’m constantly searching for new ingredients. If I see something interesting, I’ll buy it and experiment with it. Traveling the world has its perks as well. I find it amazing that you go to Mexico and Thailand and they use many of the same ingredients, but how they use them is totally different.”

Even in his free time, Howard says, he incessantly marries flavors in his head. He imagines most of his creations and the way they will taste even before he procures the ingredients.

“I’m always waking up at night with ideas and jotting them down,” he says. “For most of my menus, I’ll open my fridges and brainstorm. On a boat, I’m alone in the galley a lot, so I’ve got loads of time to think—not just about the menu, but also the technique I can to use to make it extraordinary.”

For the tasting menu in this month’s Cellar & Galley, he aimed to showcase that technique.

“Take the swordfish carpaccio, for example,” he says. “Everyone knows swordfish is tough, so it’s not typically thought of for a carpaccio, but in this particular cooking process, it actually really takes well to being cooked and tenderized in the acidity of lemon and lime.”

Results of the chefs’ competition were announced later in the week. While Howard didn’t take home the trophy, he was right at the top in the scoring.

And his melt-in-your-mouth swordfish carpaccio was the best carpaccio I’ve ever had. I can only wonder what other surprises he must have in mind for future charter guests of Lady J.

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Lady J features prominently on ShowBoats International Magazine after hosting a fabulous yacht charter along the Turks & Caicos Islands.

The Islands of the Turks and Caicos are a unique Caribbean destination for luxury yacht charters, and 142’ Palmer Johnson M/Y Lady J recently hosted friends from ShowBoats International Magazine who discovered the aquamarine waters of the area while being pampered by the professional crew. We invite you to read the article below and download the full 5-page PDF (complete with photos, maps, and extra details) to learn more about this magical corner of the Caribbean and the most delightful way of exploring this tropical spot, your own Lady J luxury yacht charter.

Published courtesy of ShowBoats International  |  By Danielle Aragon Cabrera


To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of travel is meeting expats—people who took everything they cherished in their lives and moved to a vacation destination or to the middle of nowhere. Maybe they wanted to get away from a too-hectic life. Maybe they always had itchy feet as nomads meant to absorb as much of the world as possible. I’ve always been somewhat jealous of these types. But that is also the nature of the yachting lifestyle, isn’t it? Having the ability to move from one destination to another by simply picking a point on a map and saying, “I want to go there.” The Turks and Caicos is such a destination. Many people you meet are not from there and those who are typically only are second or third generation. Aside from long-time Turks islanders, many residents first came to this British Overseas Territory on vacation and vowed to move here. Who could blame them? There’s nearly 350 days of sunshine and with miles of uninhabited beachfront property, your neighbor could be anywhere from mere feet away to miles down the beach. 


Now, Providenciales, or Provo as it is affectionately nicknamed, the territory’s most developed island and largest town, is not what you would call a bustling city or business center—everything here caters to the tourist. You can move from hotel to hotel, availing yourself of each one’s facilities. You’re staying aboard your yacht in Blue Haven but want to use the spa at Amanyara? No problem. Heard that the breakfast at The Beach House was first rate? Well, then by all means, it can be arranged for tomorrow morning with no fuss. The stretch of beach at Grace Bay has been voted time and time again as the world’s best and you can have beach chairs and lunch set up at The Alexandra Resort on that famous beach tomorrow. Nowhere have I seen so many hotels working together like a network, all willing to share in the wealth of and cater to the visitor.

Located 575 miles from Miami, Florida, south of The Bahamas chain and north of Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos has traditionally been a stopping point for refueling and provisioning rather than a large-yacht destination. IGY Marinas looks to change that. The international group manages the marina part of the newly renovated Blue Haven Resort and Marina, the former Nikki Beach resort on Provo’s northwestern tip. Catering to yachts up to 220 feet, the marina began welcoming yachts in summer 2013 before the grand opening in December. We spent a night here, sampling the marina’s and island’s many amenities before boarding the 142-foot Palmer Johnson Lady J, our host for the next three days.

While the aquamarine waters of the Turks and Caicos beckoned the next day, so did the island’s delights. We began by taking a conchcracking lesson at Da Conch Shack and then sampled some of the ubiquitous conch ceviche, which was lemony and superb, some of the best and freshest I’ve had. We then moved on to afternoon drinks at the Grace Bay Club, one of the island’s adults-only resorts. Grace Bay Club has everything from a beachfront pop-up restaurant and bar to the Caribbean’s longest bar: 90 feet long with an infinity edge that stretches it even farther into the horizon.

On land, there aren’t many attractions beyond hotel amenities, but there are biking trails, some shopping in Grace Bay and high-end restaurants. Also, bird watching is given high marks. Watching flamingos frolicking in their natural habitat at the aptly named Flamingo Lake—also popular with anglers for bonefishing—enthralled me. The best sighting opportunities, however, are on North, Middle and East Caicos, where you can see plenty of flamingos in the lagoons, salt ponds and mangrove wetlands, along with more than 170 bird species.

An afternoon helicopter flight over Provo revealed abundant undeveloped land between the many resorts that dot the islands and beachfront properties belonging to celebrities like Donna Karan, Bruce Willis, Oprah Winfrey and Keith Richards. They find here a sanctuary-like atmosphere that’s conveniently close to the States.

We crisscrossed over miles of empty beaches, secluded bays and waters so blue they looked like someone had dropped food coloring in them. The barrier reef that surrounds the islands, the world’s third largest barrier reef, creates a mirror-flat sea. We caught sight of a couple of kitesurfers taking advantage of the area’s trade winds and shallow beaches ideally suited to the sport.

We returned to Blue Haven Marina to board Lady J, eagerly anticipating our own sojourn and ready to get out on the water. Captain Stephen Bay leads the seasoned crew aboard Lady J. They are all watersports enthusiasts and were ready to show us the best of anchorages for a week of activities.

After a short cruise to the Northwest Point anchorage, we tendered to land for lunch and a spa treatment at the Amanyara resort. The resort sits inside two protected areas comprising 5,000 acres, the Northwest Point Marine Natural Park and Pond Nature Reserve, and is one of the most serene places I have ever visited. Wedged into natural surroundings, Amanyara feels more like Thailand or Bali than the British West Indies, although continuing that Robinson Crusoe-lost-in-paradise feel.

We returned aboard for an afternoon of watersports, swimming and snorkeling off of Amanyara where, just beyond the barrier reef, a 6,888-foot drop along the ocean floor forms an ideal wall for diving.

The next two days went by in a flash. While some of the ladies partook of another spa experience, this time at the Regent Palms Turks & Caicos, others enjoyed an afternoon of sportfishing, which is superb in this area. South Caicos is a renowned spot for lobster and conch. Captain Bay and crew are avid fishermen and returned from a short jaunt with no less than five three-footers in hand. Their appetites whetted, they planned for an afternoon of bonefishing upon their return to Blue Haven Marina.

One afternoon, the crew took us all aboard Lady J’s 32-foot Intrepid for a beach picnic on Fort George Cay. Uninhabited and a protected national park, this tiny cay was once a fortified island that protected the waters from pirates. Snorkelers easily can spot 19th century cannons lying underwater among swirling shades of turquoise and natural sandbars appearing at low tide.

As Lady J made her way south to the more typical charter destination of the British Virgin Islands, Captain Bay vowed to return at the end of the charter season. The Turks and Caicos had proven to be a worthy spot, a little slice of heaven away from the Caribbean’s crowded docks. I promised to come back as well. Who knows, maybe you’ll find me here five years from now, a true expat, having left the rat race and living the dream.

LADY J wins 3 awards at the 50th Annual Antigua Charter Show!

December 8th, 2011.
Chef Emma Becket of M/Y LADY J, 142’ Palmer Johnson, was awarded first place in the 101’-159’ yacht category Concours de Chef Contest sponsored by Piper Heidsieck Champagne, Boat International Media, and LIAT Airlines.

Also during the Antigua Charter Show, MTN Satellite Communications sponsored a photo competition and First Officer, Scot Fraser of M/Y LADY J, won the first place award for “most creative/artistic photo of a VSAT antenna”, as well as runner-up for “most interesting photo of use of communications”.

Welcome to Lady J yacht charters

This is the place to keep up-to-date on the charter activities of the Lady J. Available for charter; this 142 ft (43.3m) Palmer Johnson has just completed a refit that makes her better than ever for families or adult guests.

Updates include interior furnishings and fabrics of exceptional quality and comfort as well as the addition of new water toys. As our summer season is winding down, we invite you to consider the Lady J for a tropical holiday this fall and winter. If you're thinking of a Thanksgiving in the Bahamas or New Year's in the Caribbean, now is the time to begin planning. The Lady J has select charter dates available this winter in some of the best yachting locations.

December 2011 - LADY J has completed her first successful charter in the Bahamas and is now enroute to the Caribbean where she will debut at the 50th Annual Antigua Charter Show. I new 14' Aquascan jet tender has also been added to her inventory!