Radical Requests – What the Elite Eat

11 February 2009 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?