From the Galley: How Chefs Got Their Start

20 September 2019 By Laura Dunn

Everyone has a different path into yachting. There’s almost no similar story, which is why we talked to the following assortment of superyacht chefs to hear their origin stories.

“I became a superyacht chef after I won a cook off in Monaco. I was 19 and landed my first season in the Med.”
Executive Chef James Howard, M/Y Latitude

“In 2009, I went to Fort Lauderdale to look for a job. I’ve heard the saying that it takes a few boats before you find a ‘good one’ and it wasn’t really until a captain entered me in the Antigua Charter Yacht Show in 2010 that my career properly kicked off. I got first place in the ‘Best Use of the Caribbean Coffee Bean’ competition and second place in the ‘Caribbean Taster Menu’ competition. The season after the show, I moved up and on to a great charter boat. I never looked back.”
Executive Head Chef Nathan Clements

“I have been in yachting for almost one year now. I spent most of my career working in the restaurant business before that. My passion for food and high-end presentation won over restaurant management and my drive for adventure and passion for the culinary arts drove me into yachting.”
Sole Chef Thomas Dean, M/Y Vida

“I was on a sabbatical from restaurant work and backpacking in Southeast Asia when I ran out of money and didn’t want to go home. I found a job on a Dutch marketplace website for a 112-foot sailing yacht. I had never heard of the yachting industry, but I thought it would be cool to work on a yacht and travel a bit longer before getting back into the restaurant world. That was nine years ago, and I haven’t been back yet.”
Sole Chef Stefan Schenk, S/Y

“While studying architecture at university in Colombia many years ago, I began working for a very well-known Colombian chef. He encouraged me to move to Canada and pursue my passion for cooking. He suggested Vancouver, as it is well known for its diversity in cuisine and amazing seasonal produce. I attended culinary school and shortly after began working as a chef for an award-winning restaurant.”
Head Chef Carlos Concha, M/Y Magna Grecia

“I’ve always loved cooking for friends and family whenever I had the chance. When I was 13, I realized I could get paid to learn and do what I already had a passion for. That’s when I made it my goal to become a yacht chef by my early 20s. My uncle (a well-known yacht captain) told me that when I was old enough, I could become a chef on yachts if I take cooking courses, go to school, and get some experience. I landed my first kitchen job as a line cook/prep worker at my hometown’s local restaurant — I worked there for six years before enrolling in a fantastic apprenticeship program that specialized in classical French cuisine for young chefs.”
Head Chef Alicia Mold, M/Y Okto

“I decided to make the move to yachts about two years ago after being a restaurant chef my whole career. I felt a bit stuck in a rut and wanted to reignite my passion for cooking. I like to see and experience new things and to learn constantly. The thought of getting inspired through travel and a new challenge excited me so much so I took the plunge! I’m very happy that I did. After school, I joined the [South African] masses and headed to the UK. I had very little experience and no money and took a job as a pot washer. After I expressed my eagerness to get into the kitchen, someone saw my potential and got me into cooking school. It was tough balancing studies and work, but it was worth it.”
Sole Chef Trevor Steyn, S/Y Zenji