Chef Jason Roberts

Whale Boy

Chef Jason

G’Day All,

I have always had a connection to the ocean. I guess it comes with being a KIWI (native New Zealander) as I did grow up on an island after all. I started surfing at a young age and I have always felt at ease in the water. I have felt so connected to the ocean, that when I go to the beach, I regularly see wildlife. Dolphins mainly. Whales. Thing is, even when some of my friends who live on the beach hope to see them, they never do. But, as soon as I arrive, for sure, there they are.

Now I’m not saying that they show up because I’m there, but, I’m not not saying that either. I’m just noticing it happens a lot. All my life. Which leads me to this blog post. Back about 13-14 years ago I was surfing Bondi Beach. It was a pretty good day, nice sets, but it was crowded. So I paddled my board away from the rest of the surfers. I love to surf, but, it is a solitary thing for me, I like to surf alone. While I was sitting on my board waiting for the next set, directly in front of me, about 50 yards away, surfaced a Pilot Whale, big as a bus. He kind of looked at me with that big eye and I looked right back, amazed. Suddenly the whale dove, but only a bit, and it then turned over on its belly and swam directly under me, my feet mere inches from its belly. How cool was this?!! It then surfaced directly in front of me so, me being me, I unhooked my leg tether to the board and swam up behind it.

Now, I don’t know why, but I reached out and grabbed its fluke (tail). As I did the whale started to dive with me holding its tail. Just as I had gone down about 5-6 feet, ever so gently, the whale flipped me back out of the water and swam away. When I got back to the beach, a crowd had gathered, as I was only about 100 yards from shore, folks were all amazed and watching. Including the local beach police officer, who promptly arrested me. You see, the whales are endangered. You’re not allowed to approach them in any way. I was so caught up in the moment, I never even thought what I was doing was illegal or dangerous. It was only later after the fact that I realized I could have been injured. But, that said, I might do it again.

The local news covered it, Channel 9, in Australia, calling me "Whale Boy." I learned another young Australian kid also rode a whale recently and is under investigation. I’d love to talk to him and find out if he was as thrilled as I was. By the way, within days Channel 9 made me an offer of a TV show, so I’ve always thought that the whale was telling me my fortunes were changing. And, it solidified my connection to the sea even further.

Recently as I visited Malibu for The Chew, I had the chance to do some surfing and it got me thinking of Bondi Beach. Sure enough, I saw some dolphins and it reminded me of the story I shared with you today. While in Malibu I had some of the freshest seafood you can get, just moments out of the water and onto my plate. I’d love to show you some great seafood dishes and share with you a bit about my Bondi Beach. Hopefully you will derive some connection to the sea, as I have.

Check out the Recipes Page for some great seafood dishes you can make at home. They celebrate all things seafood, a fantastic collection of bounty from the ocean that will warm your insides and tantalize your taste buds. Enjoy and please let me know they turn out.