Now in their third year of business, PiZZA Pi has served over 7,000 pizzas to hungry boaters & has also been ranked #1 restaurant in the US Virgin Islands according to TripAdvisor.
“Food trucks had become a part of everyday life—food boats had not. We knew that the concept was strange but thought it could work, because the food is very recognizable” says Tara Bouis an award-winning yacht chef and co-owner of Pizza Pi that has been serving up slices to hungry boaters since November 2014 on waters of the US Virgin Islands.
What drove this couple to start a food business on a boat, passion and too stubborn to give up!
MEET THE DREAMERS
Chef Tara Bouis Captain Sasha
Tara Bouis used to be a special-education teacher.
Sasha Bouis was a programmer in Manhattan at Standard & Poor’s.
Captain Sasha graduated from MIT, worked on Wall Street & threw it all away to become a sailboat captain. He is the brains behind the impressive design and layout of every system on board the Pi.
Chef Tara was a special education teacher in Indiana, paid for culinary training in cases of Guinness, moved to the islands to be a scuba instructor but it was her culinary skills that put Pi on the sea.
Sasha ditched Manhattan and his suit and ties and moved to Puerto Rico, where he spent a year or two working on sailboats. Eventually he headed to the British Virgin Islands to teach sailing at a summer camp. At the camp is where he met Tara, a special-education elementary school teacher from Indiana who was spending the summer teaching scuba to kids. They eventually married in 2012.
The couple worked on guest charter boats, sailing out to sea for weeks at a time, Sasha as the captain and Tara as the chef. After returning home from one of their charters and being way too tired to track down food, they spent the night munching on microwave popcorn and dreaming about how great it would be if there was a pizzeria nearby on the water. Hence they fueled up their hankering for pizza and Pi was born…
They financed the entire Pizza boat themselves with the money they’d saved from years of working on boat charters. “No one—including us—had any idea if it would work,” Sasha said. “So we weren’t comfortable trying to get investors, because we didn’t know if we’d be able to pay them back.”
They purchased a termite ridden 37-foot sailing/motorboat called Pagan that was built-in Sheffield, England; it had been abandoned for 10 years. Most of the wood interior had been eaten by termites, but the aluminum hull was still intact and they saw it’s possibilities!
It was the perfect size and shape for installing a commercial-grade pizza kitchen. Restoring the boat took about two years, because they did all the work themselves. What they didn’t already know, they taught themselves by watching YouTube videos. And having Sasha a mechanical engineer by trade certainly was the topping that would cover them throughout the project.
He designed a hood ventilation system to keep the heat out of the galley. They installed a do-it-yourself water maker that produces 40 gallons per hour. They outfitted the boat with solar panels to power the appliances.
“When cooking on boats, you have to be really careful about where you set things,” Tara said. “The last thing you want is to have a really big wave and have a knife go flying.” Every kitchen tool is strapped down, and the pizza oven is modified with heavy-duty latches to prevent the heaving boat from ejecting scalding pies at their unsuspecting creators.
The only thing they needed to do was learn to make pizza.
A month before they opened, Tara Googled around until she found a cooking school on Staten Island called Goodfellas. It had to be New York-style pizza, Tara explained. “Sasha is a bit of a pizza snob, being from Manhattan.” They took an intensive weeklong course, where they learned to replicate the all-important thin, crispy crust.
Tara used her culinary nach to create inventive pies, giving them cute names, and making them entirely delicious. A large banner menu hangs over the side of the boat.
Among the offerings: Sweet Home Indiana (sausage, corn, white sauce, and arugula), The Blumin Onion (made with lemon aioli instead of tomato sauce; leeks, radicchio, blue cheese, and honey), Rasta Mon (red curry coconut sauce, flaked coconut, snap peas, red bell peppers, and fresh mango), and The Dalai Lama, a fan favorite that offers all the available ingredients (“Make me one with everything.”)
The Pizza Pi boat doesn’t dock, you can’t walk to it the only way to get to it is by boat!
The owners of Pizzi Pi, met in the British Virgin Islands after quitting their jobs in the U.S. over 10 years ago and since then the couple opened their dream business a pizza boat in paradise.
Do you have a dream to open a restaurant?
Many people dream about it but never get past the fantasizing phase!
Tara & Sasha dreamed about and made it happen!
You can too!
I know you can because like Tara and Sasha I turned my dream into a reality also!
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