On April 4, former chief stew Gemma Hulbert will launch her newest interior crew course, The Foundations of Table Design, onto the market at The Yacht Stew Academy (TYSA). Her academy, which launched in November 2021, features accredited courses that work around your schedule, with six months of online access to all students. Its tagline, “Don’t sacrifice your earning whilst learning,” makes it clear that TYSA is focused on flexible and customizable training that won’t jeopardize your current career. The course’s launch price is £199.
When TYSA launched in November, Hulbert teamed up with Rachael Avara, owner and principal designer at ROAM Events, for the upcoming course. “The Yacht Stew was founded in 2016 and is now one of the largest online communities for interior crew,” Hulbert says. “For this specific course, I brought on Rachael Avara ... to work in tandem on all course material.” Avara, whose last role as stewardess was aboard M/Y Amarula Sun, is in charge of the creative elements of this course, including working alongside Kim Seybert to select items from their luxury tablescape shop to use as examples for the students.
Initially, Hulbert and Avara met at Rybovich while they were both enjoying their final season in the industry. They bonded over their event management experience outside the industry and have supported each other during the past year of building their businesses.
The 411 on The Foundations of Table Design
“Yachting is very much based around the guest experience and this course is solely focused on just that, ensuring that the guests have the ultimate onboard experience,” says Avara.
“This course covers how to schedule tablescapes, sustainability practices, pressing flowers on board, storage, color schemes, theme nights, and so on. It’s a beautiful offering full of creativity! Gathering around a table to enjoy time with family, friends, and a good meal is a universal concept and adding a creative flair to a meal isn’t limited to yachting. This course is perfect for anyone who enjoys hosting special events.”
Through a series of videos, downloadables, images, and slides, students are given full access to Avara’s event experience as she shares the thought process behind every creative decision. Before you can complete the course and access your certificate, you’ll have to successfully pass all quizzes and submit a final project.
"This specific course is written by four chief stewardesses (past and present) as well as globally recognized tablescape designer, Kim Seybert.”
Avara and Hulbert are also currently working on an Event and Destination Management course that will launch in late spring. This course will go hand in hand with the Foundations of Table Design Course. They will also be hosting workshops and training days in the upcoming months.
Other Courses to Consider
The current set of courses range from Cultural Tea Service (with 38 lessons for £149) and Foundations of Floral Design (with 47 lessons for £499) to Advanced Interior Management (with 55 lessons for £449) and Head of Service Diploma (with 62 lessons for £599).
Additionally, Hulbert has partnered with local Fort Lauderdale professionals for in-person courses. With Founder Brandon Wells of Wells Coffee, a coffee roastery and shop in Fort Lauderdale, they've crafted an in-person barista training for crewmembers in Florida, covering topics such as the anatomy of the espresso machine and brew recipes, along with practice steaming milk and tasting. Training in Europe is expected to launch this summer and Hulbert is in the process of creating a course bundle with the online Cultural Tea Service Course. The tea course is a worldwide collaboration with Eileen Donaghey of The Afternoon Tea Expert to train students on correct English Tea Etiquette and Arkansas-based (U.S.), family-run Simple Loose Leaf to ensure proper training on Chinese, Japanese, and Russian tea service.
“The entire ethos of The Yacht Stew brand is to cultivate creativity through community and by providing accessible education."
For the Foundations of Floral Design course, TYSA partnered with Indigo Hues and lead designer Lorrie Sanon has been designing exquisite floral arrangements for yachts, estates, and large events for the past decade. “The online course requires students to submit a final exam that includes putting together several arrangements, creating an order list for a vessel and selecting complementary colours for arrangements based on images provided of a yacht’s interior," Hulbert says. In December 2021, a hybrid learning option was made available, where students can complete their final assignment with Sanon and learn how to design and create four arrangements. Currently only available in Florida, the in-person training is a full day, and all students get to keep their arrangments, the vases, and receive a custom TYSA floral apron.
TYSA also partners with Fabulous Fusion Food @FabulousFusion, which is run by Shannon Thomson, a South African chief stewardess. “She provides a guest edit module focusing on dried flowers, bohemian tablescapes and focusing on sustainable practices,” Hulbert says. Another fantastic partner is Sonia Turek, the founder of Table Stylist @Table_Stylist_Store, a curated shop of tablescape decoration pieces for luxury hospitality. “Sonia has an impeccable creative eye and shares a case study on how to execute theme nights in an elegant manner,” she says about the Polish chief stewardess.
“All of the [eight] courses are designed and created based on feedback from the stewardess community and then created with active members of the yachting community. This specific course is written by four chief stewardesses (both past and present) as well as globally recognized tablescape designer, Kim Seybert,” says Hulbert, who was last aboard 75-meter M/Y Bella Vita as chief stewardess.
The founder and creator of The Yacht Stew Academy works with her team to look after all course development, including syllabus creating, meeting quality markers, design elements, assignments, and student interaction. This is in addition to running The Yacht Stew brand, which includes full-service crew recruitment, a podcast, and a blog full of free content for the stewardess community.
“The entire ethos of The Yacht Stew brand is to cultivate creativity through community and by providing accessible education and a support network of stewardesses from around the globe, we aim to support members of the interior team from the beginning of their career all the way through to assist them with career choices outside of yachting,” Hulbert says.