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Radical Requests – What the Elite Eat

Feb 11th 09
By Kelly Sanford

While just about everything involved with luxury yachting might seem extreme to middle-class Muggles ashore, once you’ve been in the yachting industry for a while, almost nothing merits the term “radical” anymore. Serving Beluga caviar as an afternoon snack does not even raise an eyebrow; popping the cork on a $500 bottle of wine and having your guests tell you to dump it out because “It’s corked,” hardly registers as a blip on the radical radar.

However, once in a blue moon, a guest makes a request (or demand) that takes the day-to-day decadence of yachting to a whole new level.

Tim Wigston, a former yacht chef who now works for Yacht Chandlers, says, “I suppose it seems a little bit radical when a chef requests Kobe beef from Japan. At approximately $300 per pound, that means a single tenderloin runs about $1,500.”

It goes without saying that yacht chefs typically seek out the very best of everything and pay whatever the cost may be. On the other hand, sometimes what a guest considers “the best” is just bizarre. Wigston recalls his own experience with a Kazakhstani client who enjoyed horsemeat and horse milk. (No, this wasn’t a scene in Borat.) He says, “While he was on an extended holiday in the Med, he decided he wanted some horse salami and horse milk, so he sent his private jet to get those items delivered to the yacht…. It was a little unnerving opening up the fridge in the galley and seeing a number of plastic bottles full of horse milk.”

To professional purveyors, the most radical component of yacht provisioning is often the effort and costs associated with getting relatively normal provisions to remote destinations. Tim McMillan, a partner at Yacht Chandlers, recalls some extreme examples: “One yacht paid to charter a private jet in order to get two cases of plain-old seedless grapes down to Grenada in time for a guest’s birthday party.” The guest was Turkish, and McMillan was told Turkish custom considers it bad luck not to have grapes for a birthday celebration.

Another memorable delivery involved chartering a Chalk’s seaplane in order to deliver fresh produce to a yacht anchored out in the Bahamas. McMillan says, “They ordered very nice produce, and it was about $2,000 worth of provisions. But the seaplane cost $3,000 per hour. [Chalk’s] had to fly into Nassau to clear customs, then they flew down-island to meet the boat and shuttled the provisions to the yacht by tender. I suppose they spent about $8,000 for the delivery.”

McMillan continues, “We had another client ask us to send 20 gallons of 2% milk to Tahiti, because they could not find any over there. Again the air-freight alone cost about $800.”

Sometimes it’s the source of an otherwise normal request that’s precisely what makes it seem radical…even to the jaded perspective of a seasoned yachtie. Wigston says, “I heard that once a little girl sent her salmon back to the chef and asked him to make something else…because her plastic baby-dolly didn’t like it.”

What radical food requests have you fielded from an owner or charter guest?



Rating  Average 0 out of 5

  • This is exactly what makes our job so uniquely challenging and fun.
    Posted by troy pino 04/10/2009 16:13:24

  • This is exactly what makes our job so uniquely challenging and fun.
    Posted by troy pino 04/10/2009 16:13:06

  • I have a friend who, at the rate he’s going, makes far more money than he could ever spend in his lifetime. He's single and continues to work since it brings him a lot of fulfillment. He travels a lot with his work but he really doesn't spend that much while traveling. He always tells me, "There's really very little to want when you can afford just about anything."

    For him it's not about the elusive and sometimes ridiculous "having the best" but it’s about having what he wants. He’s been know fly Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches to Belize to share them with friends that have never had one and to fly Chicago style pizzas to Russian. If that’s what makes him happy…then good for him.
    Posted by stevenpete 13/02/2009 16:53:58

  • In light of Junior's comments, my bosses were very particular about the menus and the dishes HAD to reflect the indigenous offerings of the places we visited. Granted, in the Mediterranean, that's a story in itself (okay, I wrote one!) but there were many occasions where that mandate was a lot harder than getting and bringing in things, however the means, from distant locales.
    Posted by volochef 12/02/2009 00:21:41

  • Stringy Cheese was one I felt sick buying it.
    Posted by Capt_Chaos 11/02/2009 22:46:59

  • Rats, I was reading this puff, lost concentration and burned the onions in my sauce..... Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. All I have to say is that if you are discriminating when looking for a yacht, you can find a sophisticated customer that never requests this non sense of flying exotic overpriced, stale, manhandled food around the world. If they get a fancy for exotics, a whale meat carpaccio, Cuban cigars or the most delightful air dried cod fish on earth... they simply ask you to break anchor and sail them there.........this is why we are on boats . Life is to short. Reject imitations ... go for gold.
    Posted by junior_1 11/02/2009 20:19:52

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