In the yachting industry every aspect of service must be impeccable with the utmost commitment to excellence. The galley is no different and superyacht chefs go above and beyond to become the best they can be, often pursuing unusual culinary courses to refine their gastronomy and give them the edge for the top superyacht jobs. Meet six yacht chefs who have taken their culinary skills to the next level.
Michael Wilshaw - Yacht Chef
I found Alain Ducasse’s 3-Day Training in Poultry, Game and Meat to be outstanding. This is five-star training with no expense spared. The education facility has four beautiful kitchens, a test kitchen with a large crew/student meal area and a ‘chefs table’ breakfast bar arrangement.
Each day started with a delicious breakfast which included fresh bread, pastries and an espresso to kick us into action! Meanwhile our lunches, which included some seriously good deserts, were prepared by students on a three-year bachelor program. I learned so much about the preparation of poultry, game and other meats and I’d definitely recommend the course to other chefs who want to broaden their knowledge. Ducasse is the master!
See Ecolecuisine-alainducasse.com - this course is now offered as an intensive afternoon.
Image credit: ECAD© Benjamin Schmuck
Chris Dem - Superyacht Head Chef
I did a course a few years ago at Ecole Lenôtre in Paris, called ‘La Glace dans tous ses états’ (Ice-cream in all its forms). I discovered that the preparation of ice-creams and sorbets is as complicated as it sounds, especially if you are used to following traditional ice cream recipes. This course was taught by Gérard Taurin - a world ice cream and ice sculping champion from the French team. He happened also to be the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (the best French craftsman), a very difficult title to get and extremely respected throughout the profession.
The aim of this course was not only to perfect our knowledge in sorbets and ice-cream making but also to enable us to create and balance our own recipes, to calculate the ‘dry extract’ of the produce you want to use as a flavour as well as the sugar content. We ended up creating all sorts of unusual flavours such as oyster, beetroot, cigar, whiskey, even foie gras!
The course lasted five days and it was possibly one of the most technical courses that I have ever experienced, using calculators and applying formulas to create new recipes. It may sound boring but it guaranteed quality, not only taste-wise but also with respect to texture. We all know the great advantage of having ice-creams and sorbets on standby in the freezer for that one surprising dinner party that no one told the chef about and thanks to Gérard Taurin I’m ready for any challenge!
Image credit: L’Ecole-Lenôtre @Richard Haughton
Lajos Samson Bakonyi - Yacht Chef
I would like to take the diploma course at Le Cordon Bleu London called Gastronomy & Nutrition which focuses on healthy food. I think chefs must be able to provide both delicious and healthy cuisine. If a guest has a particular dietary requirement, I have to know the culinary parameters and I have to be creative.
Consider the vegan diet where a guest only wants to consume 1,200 calories per a day. How do I provide original, delicious meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? How do I choose the ingredients or the cooking methods to keep each meal tasty and varied? I have to provide consistent quality but I also need to find provisioners who can get me whatever I need and I need to keep within budget. I think the Gastronomy & Nutrition course will be useful as it will give me inspiration!
Dean Harrison - Chef on Sailing Yacht Bliss
I would love to take a course that centers on what I think will be the future of cooking in the next 50 years or so: vegetarian or vegan cuisine. It’s definitely an emerging trend in the yachting industry. A fantastic chef named Matthew Kenney has opened training facilities called PLANTLAB® in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Milan, Barcelona, and Ubud in Indonesia. There’s also an online study option.
It’s mainly raw/vegan cuisine teaching quite simple recipes and I may already know some of the course content but I’m looking forward to opening my mind to this kind of diet and expanding my repertoire. I have signed up for Level 1, and PLANTLAB® has plans to develop a course specifically for chefs in the future.
Image credit: PLANTLAB
Matty Weeks - Personal Chef
In 2015, on the beautiful, sunny island of Mallorca, I went on a vegan course, called Plant-Based Vegan Training where I learned about alternatives to meat-based diets. The course included cooking lessons, market trips and food tastings. By learning about new flavours and techniques, yacht chefs can improve their understanding of nutrition and reduce our impact in the world, which I believe is important.
The challenge of providing tasty, ethical, and healthy dishes keeps me inspired and allows me to provide guests with a colourful and balanced diet. Courses are also a great way to meet other chefs and share new ideas to fuel your passion!
A Chef on a 46m Feadship
Learning never stops when you're a yacht chef. During a break between charters last year I went to Japan for a five day sashimi course at the Tokyo Sushi Academy, widely regarded by chefs as the masters of sushi-making.
The course was amazing as it covered the preparation of seasonal raw fish, specific knife skills and Otsukuri and Tsuma/Ken techniques for adding beauty to dishes on the plate. The skills you learn are invaluable, I’d definitely recommend it!