Competition can lead people to do delicious things. Take the Green Flash, a 47-foot catamaran that’s hosted customized culinary charters out of the Santa Barbara Harbor since January. Owners Sherri (the chef, a Santa Barbara native) and Captain Arthur McNary first ran the business for six seasons in the Virgin Islands, where they moved after raising their three kids here.
“There’s a lot of competition among charters, so the expectations for food on cruises is really high,” explained Sherri. “So it’s been a big focus of ours from the beginning.” Plus, as Arthur added with a laugh, “Doing California coastal cuisine had a lot of resonance there — no one has ever had good Mexican food down in the Caribbean.”
The move back to Santa Barbara makes it even easier for the Green Flash — which has no relation to the popular San Diego brewery — to feature dishes like breakfast tostadas with Spanish chorizo, jalapeños, queso fresco, avocado, and salsa or dinners of mahimahi grilled with pineapple, mango salsa, and jasmine coconut rice. “I can get every ingredient here — there’s all this access to organic and fresh items,” said Sherri. “Down there, I was pretty limited as to what I could get.”
Sherri learned her skills through years in the galley, and almost all the cooking is done onboard, not pre-prepared. “I came from a big family where I cooked, and then I have always entertained a lot,” she explained. “Whenever we have breaks, I’m a big adult-education cooking class taker.” Her son, Andrew, an academically trained chef, is also a great influence. “He’s the fish master,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot from him: ceviche, pokē, on and on.” Sherri’s Flash in the Pan blog at flashinthepan.us shows some of her recipes, as well as Andrew’s uni trio of a quail egg with citrus ponzu shooter, plantain chip boats topped with uni, and uni-adorned citrus frisée salad. “While it’s just the two of us as the crew now, we might add our son as the star chef when we get bigger, perhaps,” Sherri explained.
There’s a range of ways to charter the Green Flash, from sunset cruises with appetizers and drinks to a multi-night adventures at the Channel Islands or Catalina. “We’re constantly amazed at how beautiful Santa Barbara looks from the ocean,” said Arthur. “We’ve had people out on the water who haven’t experienced Santa Barbara from the ocean, and they’re just blown away!” That you can admire that view from a relatively restful catamaran (the double hull cuts down on bobbing) and eat amazing food makes the Green Flash one of the best waterfront dining options in town.