Chef Stephen Jones 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 what inspires him and his overall experience as a chef.
Q. Where did you train as a chef?
The world…. I am still training to be honest, every day I see, hear or read about something that interests me.
Q. Which yachts have you worked on?
Thundergulch, Phoenix, Phoenix2, Fortunate Sun, Cakewalk, ExcellenceV and now Solemates.
Q. How did you get into the yachting industry?
Through a friend of mine who came to visit me in London.
Q. What do you love most about your job?
That is a tough one. Meeting new people constantly really keeps me on my toes food wise.
Q. Where is your favourite restaurant in the world, what’s your favourite dish there?
I don’t really have one to be honest. There are so many great places to eat in the world, but if I had to choose, I suppose after working at the French Laundry I would have to say there because most people would not know the BBQ place near my home in the Philippines which incidentally makes great stuffed squid.
Q. Is there a secret to being a successful Yacht Head Chef?
Hard work and dedication
Q. What ingredients can you never be without in a galley?
Salt and Pepper
Q. What is your top tip when provisioning for a guest trip?
Get a good provisioner and take the time to have good relationship with them, they are invaluable.
Q. Which Chef do you admire the most, and why?
Francis Mallman. His whole approach to food and life inspires me.
Q. If you weren’t working on boats, what would you be doing?
I would be in San Francisco working my ass off.
Q. What’s your favourite port? Favourite place to dine there?
Barcelona. There are so many places to eat in that city.
Q. What was your greatest experience on a boat?
The first time I ordered Kobe Beef. I had used Wagyu before but having the real thing blew me away.
Q. What was your worst experience on a boat?
Being told that the new owners that had purchased the Yacht were bringing their own chef…
Q. What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen or heard on a yacht?
I walked into the crew mess a few weeks ago and all the crew were sat at the same table doing something on their phones, no one talking to each other. Funny and sad all at the same time.
Q. Which nationalities tend to be the best bosses?
Americans, but I did work for a Polish family for almost six years and they were fantastic.
Q. The best charter guests?
Q. Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a Yacht Chef?
Don’t think that being able to cook will get you through, It only gets you so far. Start as a Sous Chef to see how things work and then take the jump.
Q. What is the greatest challenge facing Yacht Chefs today?
MLC hours of rest. It is impossible.
Q. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Being with the Family and playing Golf.
Q. Why did you agree to be a Yacht Chef Mentor?
It is really important for me to give something back as I have taken so much.
Q. What is your motto?
A Carrot should taste like a Carrot.
Q. What is your favourite dish to wow your charter guests
Erm.. another tough one. I find that guests are generally blown away by simplicity. Canapés, bread, homemade pasta etc.. There are no big secrets to what I do. I just do them how I feel like they should be done.