By Lucy Chabot Reed
Veteran Chief Stew Alene Keenan has launched an online wine course to help interior crew demystify the oh-so-serious topic of wine.
Unlike the PYA-created wine course, which teaches the practical side of wine knowledge for yacht crew, Keenan’s class addresses the questions — and fears — she hears from stews most often.
“I just know how scared stews are of making mistakes,” she said. “The owner gives them a budget of $100 a bottle and says “just buy something”. How do you know what to get? And then, what kind of glass do you use, how full do you pour it, what kind of corkscrew do you use?
“It’s not a practical course, but a practical course,” she said.
Keenan spent more than 20 years working as a stew and chief stew on yachts and authored the book “The Yacht Guru’s Bible: The Service Manual for Every Yacht” (available at alenekeenan.com and on Amazon). She was lead instructor of interior courses at Maritime Professional Training in Fort Lauderdale, and she’s also an accredited instructor with the Professional Yachting Association and the GUEST program, which set the international standards for the Guidelines for Unified Excellence in Service Training.
She has written The Triton’s monthly Stew Cues column for 14 years.
She has also been working on her second book, one that will help owners set up their boat so they could get the most enjoyment out of it, including manuals and owner preference sheets. But she continually got called back onboard to offer coaching and training for interior staff. Most recently, a long weekend charter turned into a two-month stay as COVID-19 closed borders and cancelled flights.
“I’ve used the time to restart the training programs I’ve been working on the past five years, which have always been interrupted by consulting jobs that turn into job jobs,” she said. She’s now home in Wisconsin where she will conduct her online courses.
The courses contain all new material she has written and staged in the past few months, based on her decades of experience. The first course is a two-module Silver Service Wine Essentials course, which includes how to choose, serve and pair, and store wines, as well as a primer on how to read the label. Each one-hour module also includes a one-on-one personal consultation with Keenan and a workbook.
Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.