International regulations can take time to filter down to the yachting industry, and such is the case with the Ship’s Cook Certificate (SCC). It is only required for a specific group, but its impending compliance deadline of Feb. 15 has chefs, managers and flag states looking for answers.
The certificate is required for UK-registered commercial yachts compliant with Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) that has 10 or more crew capable of operating more than 60 miles from a port.
Yachts that want to remain MLC compliant must designate a crew member to hold the SCC. That person, typically the yacht’s chef, must be assessed and then apply for the certificate.
Even culinary-trained and experienced yacht chefs must be assessed, said John Wyborn, training director at Bluewater in Antibes, and council member and secretary of career and professional development with the Professional Yachting Association (PYA).
“The MCA can’t just give out certificates based on a CV or riding on the back of a school certificate because they don’t understand the details behind each training school program,” Wyborn said.
Secrets de Cuisine, a culinary school based in Antibes, is the first and still only school to be approved to offer an assessment course. Other schools are working to be approved as well.
The regulation was originally written in the MLC, 2006 to cover food requirements of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for large commercial vessels such as cruise and container ships. It requires a one-year training program, which some in yachting thought onerous.
Last year, the MCA and PYA worked together to set up a shorter option. Now yacht chefs can be assessed during a two-and-a-half-day session.
“I have put a year of my life into trying to win this battle for yachts,” said Joey Meen, director of training and certification of PYA, who worked with Secrets de Cuisine to present statistics and case studies for the MCA to agree to exempt yachts from the year-long training. “We got the MCA to go see our intentions with Secrets de Cuisine, and that opened the channels for other schools to get approval.
“There was never an intention for there to be one center,” she said. “They just happen to be the first.”
At press time, more than 50 chefs have been assessed at Secrets de Cuisine, according to Cedric Seguela, director of the institute. Once assessed, these SCC candidates can apply for certificate MSF 4395 REV 07/14 at www.gov.uk. Successful candidates will also have their STCW, ENG1, evidence of sea service, and a variety of cooking certifications.
Who needs it
Most red ensign registries have implemented some form of allowance for previously trained chefs on compliant yachts. Several flag states agree they will recognize the candidates’ previous qualifications instead of requiring the SCC.
The Marshall Islands flag recognizes a chef’s previous training and knowledge, said Capt. John Hafner, vice president of Seafarers’ Manning and Training at the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Registry in Ft. Lauderdale.
“The MLC, 2006 does not require a crew member working as a cook to be certificated, per se,” he said. “What MLC, 2006 requires is that a crew member employed as a cook with responsibility for food preparation must be trained and qualified for their position.”
The flag offers an option for chefs who can prove their skill level to avoid having to be assessed.
“The RMI maritime administrator offers a special qualification (SQ) for those seafarers (cooks) that are trained and qualified in accordance with MLC, 2006 requirements,” Hafner said. “This SQ is affixed in the crew member’s discharge book, specifically referencing MLC, 2006, and serves as evidence of proper training and qualification to a port state control official during an inspection.”
The Cayman Islands does not issue Ship’s Cook Certificates or dispensations, and instead accepts evidence of qualifications, said James Hatcher, maritime policy and legislation development officer for the registry. The requirements for cooks on Cayman Islands vessels are detailed in CISR Shipping Notice 07/2014.
“I understand that some other administrations may have caused some concern amongst crew by insisting that all existing ship’s cooks apply for a Ship’s Cook Certificate in the near future,” Hatcher said. “Cayman does not require this, and our requirements continue to be that the cook must have done a qualification either onshore or a formal ship’s cook certificate course that includes advanced food hygiene and preparation in the syllabus.
“We don’t foresee any Port State Control issues and have had none so far,” he said.
As with many international regulations, there are differences when it comes to local interpretation.
“Because the MLC is an international law that must be implemented at a national level, each member-state is permitted to interpret this regulation as they see fit,” said Jake DesVergers, owner of International Yacht Bureau in Ft. Lauderdale, which surveys yachts for several administrations.
“For Jamaica, as they are members of the British Commonwealth, they are following the same approach as the UK,” he said. “However, since Jamaica is a sovereign state and not subject to oversight by the UK MCA, they have some leeway to deviate as needed. For example, if a chef can show a combination of formal training at a culinary school, plus the usual safety courses under STCW, they can qualify as a Ship’s Cook.”
More training needed?
Yacht chefs are not expected to not need more training for this certificate, so long as they pass an assessment or they work with their flag state for compliance in the form of either a dispensation or special qualification.
Chef Victoria Allman of M/Y Cocoa Bean does not have the SCC and expects her chef school diploma will be sufficient. She also takes the food hygiene class every few years to keep current and safe in her galley, and expects that would be valuable for anyone who prepares food on yachts.
Head Chef Manny Slomovits is part of 14 crew on the 168-foot, Marshall Islands-flagged M/Y Legend. He sent his qualifications to the flag administration and expects to be exempt from being assessed.
“If you truly went through a certified program, there should be no reason you can’t qualify,” Slomovits said. “I think the most import thing is not having the certificate, but having more qualified chefs in the industry.”
Crew placement agent Beverly Grant, who worked as a yacht chef for 23 years and now works with Crew Solutions/Dovaston Crew, said a lot of crew have been asking about this new certificate.
“It sounds great for the hygiene part,” she said of the requirements for ship’s cooks. “This is an area that has not been cared for properly for years onboard. But graduates of a culinary school have been through this training.”
Bluewater’s Wyborn expects the popularity of the SCC to grow.
“One of the great things is that people with no formal qualifications can actually get something to show for the skills that they have,” he said. “It levels the playing field for the self-taught chef. Although the legal requirement is just for the UK flag, strictly speaking, I believe once the penny drops, other yachts will voluntarily comply.”
Dorie Cox is associate editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at email@example.com.