Culinary Waves: Chefs play major role in crew happiness

Nov 21, 2020 by Chef Anthony Bantoft

As the saying goes: happy wife, happy life. The same goes for our crew.

The chef plays an important role onboard a vessel: keeping the “wife” (i.e., crew) happy. If the chef is stubborn, arrogant and too good to cook for crew (ie, primadonna), it can make life hard for everyone onboard. Then it’s all downhill from there.

But let’s turn the tables for a moment. Crew these days have become more difficult then some of the most demanding guests. We chefs have heard it all: “I am allergic to tomatoes, but I am still allowed to have them twice a week, just as long as the skin is removed. (I am not kidding.)

What if all those crew dietary requirements, food “allergies”, diet fads, and the don’t-eat-anything-but-chicken-feet diet (seriously!) weren’t really real? Are crew too fussy? Is the celiac really celiac? Did that new “vegan” stew just eat a beef burger? This is the reality of life onboard for a yacht chef, so where do we draw the line?

So, as we can all attest, keeping all our crew happy can be difficult. Variety is the spice of life, sure. But at the end of the day, if the chef takes food requests personally, it can make for a very long season. 

We yacht chefs have unlimited resources and the privilege of working with the best ingredients across the globe, items that have just been delivered via private aircraft not long after being requested. Our walk-in refrigerator is as impressive as Willy Wonka’s jungle room.

Understanding crew likes and dislikes is all part of the job, and without it, having that happy “wife” is much harder. Crew are the chef’s children, and they must be nourished with pride and love from our hearts. 

In many ways, we hold the key to our crew’s happiness onboard. All of us are a family, and we must respect each other. There must also be an understanding what a day in the life of a busy chef is like. So work with us and give feedback, both positive and not, At the end of the day, the more open we are with each other and the more we communicate, the better our relationship will be. 

Crew, please understand that if you get a simple lunch once in a while or were served two-minute noodles, there was a good reason. You’ll be back in no time to your buffet of ‘where do I start?’, ‘I missed that’, and ‘could someone pass me one of those, please?’.

With crew support, these challenging seasons just got a whole lot better.

Chef Anthony Bantoft has been in the yachting industry for over 10 years, currently working aboard a 60m charter yacht. Comments are welcome below.