Daniel Escarment, Bon Bon
By Elizabeth Ginns Britten
Talk about a success story. Growing up in Haiti, Daniel Escarment wasn’t even allowed in the kitchen, since it was “Mom’s place.” But when he moved to the United States and needed a job, he started washing dishes at the Banana Boat bar/restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He quickly moved up to head line chef and has since reportedly become one of the most highly sought after chefs around. “People come to me. They say I’m one of their favorites,” he says.
Bon Bon, a 122-footer, is the third megayacht Escarment’s worked aboard over the last seven years; he started with the 115-foot Lady Frances, then went to the 100-foot Cookie Monster. Over the years he’s entertained many high-profile people, including members of President Bill Clinton’s secret service (one of whom told Cookie Monster’s owner that “it was the best food of his life,” earning Escarment a $10,000 raise that week). Singer Mariah Carey even offered him a job cooking for her on one of her tours after a charter, but he declined so he could see his family more often in between charters.
His approach to combining flavors is old school: He sticks to his mother’s special seasoning. “When I moved to the United States and could cook, I couldn’t get anything better than what she cooked,” he explains. “So I got her secret seasoning—a strong, good, Caribbean flavor—and that’s how I cook today. Always tasting, always testing, but it’s all in the spice.”
Interestingly, he never follows a recipe, except when making dessert, which he feels is “more fun to create, since it’s more exact.” Some charter guests decline dessert on their food preference sheet, but, says Escarment, “once they come aboard and taste it, they go, ‘Wow! I think the diet is off for the week,’ and then they go home and spend a week running. I always have stuff onboard for dessert—even if they say no. I’ve never had a charter where they didn’t eat it.”
His trademark? Banana pie. “Everybody makes banana cream pie; I make banana pie—layers of banana, topped with cinnamon, sugar, and butter, but no crust. Guests have chartered three times to get [any recipe]. That’s my rule—after three charters, you can have the recipe.”
Ultimately, this driven chef, who regularly works 18-hour days, loves what he does and is devoted to putting a smile on his guests’ faces. “That’s my job,” Escarment says. “I don’t care how much I work, I just want to make sure they get what they want.”
Bon Bon is available for charter in New England, Florida, and the Bahamas at a rate of $45,000 per week.
International Yacht Collection Phone: (954) 522-2323. www.internationalyachtcollection.com.
This article originally appeared in the October 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.