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Life of a Superyacht Chef

24 Oct Posted by in Food + Wine, Jobs, Yachting | Comments
Life of a Superyacht Chef

Imagine the life of a Superyacht chef, constantly delivering ultra high quality meals not only to the on board guests but to tired and hungry crew also. Combine this challenge with floating kitchen (galley) just four meters wide, with no staff to assist, nearby supermarkets or readily available fresh produce. Such is the challenge for the superyacht chef, expected to create exceptionally delicious meals around-the-clock for VIP guests accustomed to the absolute highest level of cuisine.

By Sheena McKenzie, CNN
October 22, 2012 — Updated 1728 GMT (0128 HKT)

It’s a grueling vocation, catering to the unusual variety of whims of both guests and crew while also acting as the kitchen’s cleaner, waiter and book keeper. But as many superyacht chefs will tell you, it’s also a rare dream job which can pay up to $13,000-a-month and enable the lucky recipient to travel the world aboard a luxury vessel.

CHEF Jeremy Kelly

Chef Jeremy Kelly, whose impressive list of off-board guests includes U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, said versatility was crucial in an industry that might see you cooking for a Russian oligarch one week and a Saudi prince the next. As the former private chef to musician Jon Bon Jovi and his family of four children, Kelly also quickly learned to cook their favorite Thai dishes. But after more than three years working for the rock star in his homes across the U.S, Kelly decided to indulge his love of the water and strike out as a freelance superyacht chef — and he hasn’t looked back since.

“I’m 40 years old and I’m still going to places I never thought I’d see,” he said. “As a superyacht chef you have to be international, you have to try different things. Especially for the crew, if they’re interested in what they’re eating it helps keep morale up when you’re away from home for long periods of time.”

He described one French superyacht owner who — rather unusually — insisted on catching his own dinner when traveling in the British Virgin Islands. “He loved going diving and when he would come back up with lobsters he would shout my name,” Kelly said. “I would quickly come over, take the live lobster, break it open, take out the meat, slice it thin and platter it up sashimi style. By the time he was out of his dive gear, he would be eating it on deck.”

More about Monaco: Land of superyachts, super casinos and super rich from CNN

Kelly’s days normally begin at 6am, preparing meals for around 12 guests and eight crew members on board a vessel up to 60 meters long. Even after the last meal of the day is served, there’s a long evening of planning for the superyacht chef who may be moored out at sea and without access to supermarkets for days at a time. And if a guest is feeling a little peckish at 3am, it falls to the permanently on call chef to satisfy their cravings.

“I might have one guest who is vegetarian, one who is gluten-intolerant, one who is kosher. So you might be doing three or four different menus each day,” Kelly said. “You can be the best chef in the world. But without that organization you’re going to crash and burn.”

The superyacht kitchen, called a galley, is specially designed for the high seas with barriers around the hob and latches on cupboards to prevent food from spilling around in rough weather. Often wealthy owners will go to the extent of installing specialist equipment to suit their tastes, such as dim sum steamers or pasta boilers.

With around-the-clock demands, Kelly admits he doesn’t always get a chance to fully explore the fabulous places he gets to visit. But he said the odd chance to wander through local markets, sampling exotic ingredients, has hugely expanded his culinary repertoire. From vegetable markets in the Galapagos Islands to fishmongers off French Polynesia, Kelly is able to experiment with fresh, seasonal produce — much to the delight of guests keen to sample the local cuisine wherever they are in the world.

Along with the unique chance to travel the globe, a huge attraction to the job is the high salaries, a chef working on an average size superyacht — around 50 meters long — can expect around €5,000 ($6,500) a month, while those on larger boats — above 80 meters long — will earn closer to €10,000 ($13,000) a month.

It’s only a drop in the ocean when you compare it to the earnings of a wealthy superyacht owner. But for a chef able to sail the high seas and experiment with exotic foods from across the globe, it presents a taste of the high life few in their position are ever afforded.

“Preparation space is extremely limited,” said Efrem Leigh, director of recruitment agency “In a normal kitchen you might have a pastry section or a fish section. But on a superyacht you’ve basically got to do everything in one confined area.”

“In the industry there are a lot of head chefs from some of the best restaurants in the world,” Leigh said. “The standards are incredibly high. You’ve got to be trained to at least a sous chef level to know enough about food and run a galley. If you’re just a cook, you’re not going cut it.”

Despite the challenges, expectations remain huge, with Kelly creating such luxury dishes as crab salad with grainy mustard vinaigrette on green apple gelee or a delicate chocolate sponge with Grand Marnier.

This Article has been generated from the website,

If you are interested in finding employment as a Superyacht chef,


Private Chef
Jeremy Kelly

Yacht Chefs
Efram Leigh

A Y C Superyacht Recruitment

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