Quality French Cooking is Key to Tara’s Success

An interview with Tara’s cook, Dominique Limbour, on the pleasures and perils of creating high-quality food for a crew of 14 people on a sailboat.

Dominique Limbourm's artisan breadp_photo credit Sarah Fretwell

Dominique Limbour’s artisan bread © Sarah Fretwell /  Tara Expeditions Foundation

Dominique Limbour has been cooking aboard vessels from Antarctica to Tahiti. She has lots of experience in one of the most demanding jobs on the boat. Up at 5:30 am, she is cooking and planning the next meal until 9 pm. When her head hits the pillow, she is still thinking about the next meal. You can often see her smiling as she reads a cookbook, or covered in flour, baking bread.

She says, "I am here to be with scientists and better understand their work.  Before this expedition, I knew little about coral and plankton. For me, it is important because I want to know more about the health of the ocean and global warming."

Dominique’s critical contribution to this expedition is her scrumptious French cooking. "Food is so important, because we are on a French boat and it’s a major part of our culture. Meals are the few times a day the community stops working to connect, to discuss and relate to one another.  It is time to laugh and take a break. Food sets the atmosphere. Quality, taste, and quantity are very important," she notes.

In foreign markets, she looks for great local produce, and a few exports from home she knows her crew mates will be happy to see. She also learns from locals. A woman in Tahiti showed her how to extract milk from the coconut meat, and now every time we catch a fish, she uses fresh lime and coconut to make ceviche.

Crew member and cook Dominique Limbour putting the hydraphone overboard_photo credit Sarah Fretwell

Crew member and cook Dominique Limbour putting the hydraphone overboard © Sarah Fretwell / Tara Expeditions Foundation

She also loves working with Tara’s hydrophone. “I love to set the hydrophone in the water overnight and listen to sounds around the reef – sometimes even whale calls. And for a few moments I do some science.” After the expedition, she will head to Australia to visit her brother and relax. And with a smile she tells me, "I won’t cook for a month."

Sarah Fretwell