The Paella Party Boat

Photographs by Douglas Friedman and Danny Kim

It’s a boy thing,” says chocolatier Jacques Torres of living on a boat, which he does, he says, “95 percent of my days.” He keeps his bike and fishing rods on his buoyant man-cave, a 39-foot Bayliner 3988 motor yacht, docked at Liberty Landing in Jersey City, which offers unobstructed views of Manhattan’s skyline. When his wife, Hasty, is in from Los Angeles, they retreat to their apartment in Hell’s Kitchen.

Torres’s passion for the water began growing up in the fishing town of Bandol, in Provence. As a teenager, he sneaked onto boats to fish. Eventually, he moved to New York but was soon working too hard to ever see the sun. Now he cooks striped bass, freshly plucked from the river (EPA guidelines recommend eating at most one striped bass from this area per month). Functionally, his kitchen is just like the one you might find in a studio apartment. It has all the usual amenities: a fridge, freezer, sink, microwave, and stove.

But there’s no dishwasher (he has to be careful about draining his water tank), and there’s a camp stove on board for bigger cooking jobs. Still, he wouldn’t do it any other way. “I hear the rain and the wind. I see the weather. I know when it’s a full moon,” he says. “The sun feels good, eh?”

Anything not in a cabinet or bolted down goes flying the minute the boat moves. “Just as you pass the Verrazano, it’s like being in an earthquake,” he says. “I have to have a coffee machine. This is a New York kitchen,” says Torres. Torres refuses to eat off of or drink from plastic, so he buys inexpensive glass and ceramic tableware a few times per year. “They will all be broken before the end of the season,” he says. Photo: Douglas Friedman

In the summer, Torres breaks out his paella pan and cooks enough to feed the whole dock, plus his friends at the nearby fuel station. “Everybody smells it and comes with a plate.” Photo: Douglas Friedman

The Paella Party Boat