Planning a dinner cruise doesn’t have to be complicated. The first step to low-stress entertaining aboard are lists. A well thought out strategy will help make sure you don’t forget to bring along critical ingredients. At the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t go overboard trying to prepare for every culinary eventuality. Space in even the largest galley space is ultimately limited. This is also the time to ask boat guests if they have any food allergies. You don’t want to discover this miles offshore. No matter what menu is ultimately chosen, unless you’re on a large yacht, it’s best to keep the serving casual where guests help themselves. If you want to have a fancy or otherwise complex main dish, plan on cooking it on land and bringing it aboard. Nothing can take the mood of a party down faster than a frustrated boat owner trying to cook something complex in a boat’s small galley. Bring along food that can be easily assembled aboard such as fresh basil, tomatoes and mozzarella (which can be grilled or cut and served), yet are a treat for the tastebuds. Salads with ingredients that can be served at room temperature (such as cucumbers and carrot sticks) are excellent for warm weather entertaining. Precooked shrimp is easy to eat cold or tossed on the grill. Avoid serving greasy food that could lead to queasy stomachs and exacerbate seasickness. Keep things light, especially on hot days, and keep your guests hydrated. Even if there it a large fridge on board, bring a cooler for overflow drinks and to place them at key locations. Desserts can be as simple as fresh strawberries with whipped cream. Remember everything tastes more exotic on a boat.
Avoid round food that will roll around and eventually off a plate. Square off meatballs, melon balls and other spherical foods, but don’t stop there. Hamburgers are a more stable food than hotdogs. Likewise, especially if you have newbie boat guests, it’s best to avoid the temptation to serve precarious and potentially very messy corn on the cob, no matter how good it tastes fresh from your boat grill. If you really want to serve grilled corn, cut the ears into 1-inch rounds so they lay on their side on a plate. This also makes them bite-sized hors d’ouevres. Similarly, mashed potatoes make a better side dish than their baked cousins. Always allow guests to take as much or as little as they want. And make sure to keep a few Snickers stowed away in case anyone catches a case of the hangries.