Wearing the wrong size clothes can be uncomfortable, impractical, or downright impossible - and choosing a chef position on a yacht size that’s mismatched to your skills and experience can be equally frustrating.
Today we’re diving into the three levels of chef positions on superyachts -- the requirements of each size yacht, and the other ways you’ll know which is the best fit for you!
Small private yachts -- usually between 22-36 meters (or 70-120 feet) -- are ideal for an entry-level yacht chef.
90 foot (28-meter) yacht
A boat this size that's privately used and not chartered out to paying guests is a good starting point if you want to start small. You’d be cooking for the owners, their guests, and a small crew. Yacht owners on these size boats are often looking for simple favorites - not elaborate, complicated meals.
If you’re an avid home cook, a passionate foodie, or have limited professional cooking experience, a small yacht is a perfect place to aim your sights.
As Lorien, a cook who made the leap without formal training recently told Fresh Yacht,
“A chef trained to work in a 5-star restaurant may create amazing meals, but they aren’t necessarily equipped to work on a yacht and deal with the challenges of a tight space, limited storage, or the lack of available ingredients.
Ultimately, your credentials aren't important. What matters is if the guests are happy with the food and that you are easy to live with on a yacht. In my case, I was able to elevate the owner’s day with my cooking, and this made her happy.”
Other perks of a smaller yacht include the overall lack of formality and a smaller crew to feed leaving you to focus on the owner’s preferences.
It’s a great place to learn on the job - both to perfect your yacht chef skills, and acclimate to life onboard a yacht overall.
Things to consider - if you’re a very experienced chef used to a wide variety of meals and ingredients, preparing a simple menu could get boring after a while.
Also, private yachts tend to pay smaller salaries than charters. You’ll also be limited to smaller spaces for food prep, storage, and living quarters.
How about a medium-sized yacht? Usually, 38 – 43 meters (125 – 140 feet) and frequently used as charter yachts. A chef working in this position needs a solid cooking background.
130 foot (40-meter) yacht
You’ll be expected to produce quite a lot of food every day - starting with breakfast, moving on to multiple course meals for lunch and dinner, and of course happy hour snacks and hors d'oeuvres!
Chefs on medium-sized yachts need to be prepared to think on their feet, make quick changes and adapt as issues come up.
For example, guests' schedules may change without warning or they may request a different menu at the last minute. A frozen protein that you had planned for a meal might turn out to be bad when defrosted, or weather could take a turn for the worse causing you to cook underway in rough weather.
One of the most challenging things about this busy position is adapting to required changes and unpredictable events, while still producing top-quality, gourmet meals. After all, charter guests may be paying $150,000 a week (or more!) for their trip, and they’ll expect the food to be a highlight of the experience.
The increased pressure comes with some increased perks, to be sure - you’re likely to make a much higher income on a yacht this size and you'll have more potential for tips. You’ll also have a bigger food budget, more storage, and more space to prepare.
The need to produce complex and delicious menus day after day will challenge your cooking ability and compel you to become a much better chef. And, with a bigger crew, you’ll enjoy a more vibrant social experience and a chance to make lasting friendships.
Of course, with a bigger crew, there are also more mouths to feed. Some medium-sized yachts require almost as much work as larger yachts, but without the help of a sous chef.
If you're on a charter yacht, you’ll be working long days and you may not get as much time off during a season as you would on a private yacht.
When you’ve got high-end restaurant cooking experience and you’re looking to make the best salary in the industry, a large yacht is for you.
180 foot (55-meter) yacht
Large yachts can be charter or private can be between 55 - 76 meters (180 - 250 feet). A large yacht will usually have at least two chefs on board, and often duties are split between feeding the crew and feeding the guests. Some of the largest yachts even have a separate galley for crew!
When you work as a chef on a large yacht, you’ll have an unlimited food budget, the opportunities to express your creativity with high-end food and gourmet menus, and you’ll be considered a top chef in the industry - a highly respected position. You’ll work in large galleys and have lots of space to store the goods you need. And, you’ll make a top salary.
However, landing a chef job on a large yacht is competitive. You’ll need proven experience in high-end restaurants, and you’ll be under pressure to produce exquisite meals that will meet the expectations of guests who are used to luxury - and paying a LOT for it.
Plus, with average crew sizes of 20-50 - or even more - if you're the crew chef you’ll have to produce a massive amount of food each day.
Living with a large crew can offer its own challenges, as well, as it can become political or offer more changes for personal conflicts in a confined space.
The benefits of a very large yacht chef position are prestige, a salary from $8,000 - $12,000 per month (or similar in Euros), a much larger galley, bigger living quarters and a large crew to socialize with.
So -- which yacht chef job sounds right for you?
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