Chef Andrew Muphy is one of the mentors involved in the new Penum Yacht Chef Mentor Program, which was set up to support and develop aspiring chefs on board. Speaking to Ellie Barker, he talks about his career as a chef.
Where did you train as a Chef?
I trained in Auckland, New Zealand
Which Yachts have you worked on?
I started my yachting path M.Y Tatoosh. I have also worked on octopus, LGB, Ronin, Aviva, Eminence, Musashi and most recently a new build project.
How did you get into the yachting industry?
Good luck and good timing!
I was just finishing a season in a sky resort in the south Island of New Zealand. I asked an agent friend of mine if he had any interesting jobs going in the big smoke of Auckland city. He said ‘no, but how do you fancy working on a super yacht?’ I said “ well that sounds interesting, tell me more. Turns out the head chef on board Tatoosh was looking for a sous chef. He was a kiwi and was coming home on leave and was looking to hire a chef while he was there. He set up a wee cook off with two other chefs and myself at a local hotel. And here I am…..
What do you love most about your job?
What’s not to love? Travel, money, food, sun, boats. You get your laundry done for you.. I could go on. As a chef I think super yachting is one of the best jobs in the world. The experience’s you have, the food you can find and cook with. The people you meet. I love it all.
Where is your favourite restaurant in the World, what’s your favourite dish there?
I am a real home body. I love my green patch of land in New Zealand. Not far from my house in NZ is a wee café called “strips” they do the best coffee’s there with the most amazing coffee art. One of the only places in the world where you can get a Full cooked breakfast and everything on the plate is made in house. Black pudding, pork sausage, hash brown, beans, ketchup, think slice of white bread. All made in house. And my favourite their Reuben sandwich. Home made corned beef, sauerkraut and Rye bread. Plenty of whole grain mustard sauce.. delish….
Is there a secret to being a successful Yacht Head Chef?
Forward planning. You have to think to yourself, worst case, if I run out of milk in the middle of an Atlantic crossing who’s the captain going to be looking for when he goes to get his coffee in the morning???? Be ready for as much as you can. And be willing to change everything you have just spent hours doing. It happens.
What ingredients can you never be without in a Galley?
Piquillo peppers and a really good olive oil. And loads and loads of fresh herbs. Those three things can make anything taste good.
What is your top tip when provisioning for a Guest trip?
Think outside the box. And have a few “ get out of jail free” items up your sleeve. If you are in deep and you need the sous chef to help you out they will thank you later.
Which Chef do you admire the most, and why?
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. I love his approach to food. Nose to tail. His food is very simple but with great taste and some ethics behind it. And he’s a bit of a bit of a scruff. Not a polished show pony like some TV chef’s.
If you weren’t working on boats, what would you be doing?
I spent a few years working in small luxury lodges in New Zealand. Kind of like superyachts, but on land. Expensive, exclusive and small. 16 to 20 guests. Different menus every night. Awesome locations. That’s what I would be doing….
What’s your favourite port? Favourite place to dine there?
There are a lot to choose from… San Francisco is well up there for me. Every Thursday night, in a car park behind an industrial estate not far from the golden gate bridge there is a gathering of food trucks that is a sight to behold. They have a live band, boutique breweries sell their latest creations and the trucks pump out some awesome food.
Most of the time its cold as hell but you tough it out because the vibe is worth it. I tried to eat my way around all of the trucks there but couldn’t make it. I stopped at the bacon truck. 16 items on the menu and every one with lashings of bacon. Even a couple of deserts. Bacon ice cream anyone?????
What was your greatest experience on a boat?
On my first vessel we went to Tahiti. We where stationed about 140 miles away from the main island of Papeete. So I had to charter a plane and get the provisions flown to a small island not far from the boat. Now to get the provisions we had to take the helicopter to the local airport and fill it up and fly the provisions back. And of course who do you send to make sure all the provisions are present and correct..?? The chef… The pilot, seeing my childlike excitement asked if I fancied giving this flying thing a go…what do you think I said.
So for the next two weeks I got to fly a helicopter to go and pick up my provisions.. How do you top that???
What was your worst experience on a boat?
Getting caught in a force 9 storm that hit at 3 in the morning. $1.6 million dollars worth of damage, having no crockery left unbroken, and one very very green looking sous chef.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen or heard on a yacht?
After an owners trip on a very large vessel, all the crew assembled on the pool deck above the heli deck waving good bye to the owner as he departed, Promptly jumping into the pool once the owner was out of sight. The champagne corks where popping, the music was blasting and of course nobody notice the chopper when it returned with the owner still in due to the fact that his private jet had broken down.
I have never seen so many wet people move so fast…kind of funny at the time. Not so funny when the owner got inside.
Which nationalities tend to be the best bosses?
I have worked for good and bad of the same nationalities. I don’t think you can say there are good or bad Nationalities.
Just good and bad people….
The best charter guests?
The ones that leave the biggest tip and the smallest foot print. (ie the biggest spenders with the smallest demands)
Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a Yacht Chef?
Do it. Experience as much as you can. Get up to the bridge as often as possible (if your aloud) ask questions of everybody. Find out how to put the anchors down, how to start the main engines, how to wash your own galley rags. Tighten your own hinges on galley doors, and change your own light bulbs.
The crew will love you for it and you have the power of knowing your own boat. And if you ever need a hand engineers remember these things.
Super yachts are the most interesting things you will ever be on. Keep the crew happy.. remember they are your biggest customers.
Have fun, save at least some of your salary and, this is one of the first things I learnt from a great yacht chef. Never, never leave the boat with out some boat cash or the boat credit card. You never know when you might see something awesome.
What is the greatest challenge facing Yacht Chefs today?
Hmm, good question. I’m not sure there are a lot of “challenges” out there for yacht chefs. Apart from the odd difficult owner. Provisions and yacht agents are so efficient these days that you can get pretty much anything anywhere. It can be challenge to get a tender to pick you up after the last tend run, but as a chef there are things you can do to ensure that you never get left ashore.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I am a big fan of Muay thai. ( thai kick boxing) I go to Thailand and train when I can. Going on walking tours of cities. You get to see so much more when you walk. Sitting in a local with a cold beer and people watching. You see some pretty amazing stuff.
Why did you agree to be a Yacht Chef Mentor?
If I can help someone to experience half the stuff I have then I will be happy, that’s why. Superyachting is an amazing industry. Not just for chefs but for everyone who is in it.
What is your motto?
“Stand by to stand by”
What is your favourite dish to wow your charter guests? Include your recipe if you care to share…
Sushi. Having lived in Japan for half a year you get to appreciate the fine art of taking a beautiful piece of fish, adding some perfectly cooked rice and coming up with something that is recognized around the world.
Spending time in Hawaii and have access to some of the most amazing tuna, whipping up some sushi for the guest is a sure way to get smiles and thumbs up all round.
The rice is a major part of the dish…I go with equal quantities of rice and water. Rinse and drain the rice well, very well in fact. Put the rice and water in a pot with a tight fitting lid. Wrap tea towel around the lid for that extra seal. Bring the rice to the boil and then turn it down immediately to a slow simmer for 12 minutes. Then take it off the heat and sit on the side for another 12 minutes. Do not lift the lid at any stage….very important.
The rice vinegar is also pretty important. A combination of rice wine, mirin, A kombu sheet, a little sugar and a pinch of salt, heated up to dissolve the sugar and infuse the flavors and folded through your rice should see you with perfect sushi rice. Use it when it’s at room temperature. Resist the temptation to put it in the fridge.
Cut some beautiful slices of the freshest fish you can lay your hands on and you’re away.
There are loads of different shapes and sizes. Go with some traditional and try some not so traditional. At the end of the day if it doesn’t work you can eat it yourself…