Life on the Ocean wave: a blog by super yacht chef Paul Airey

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th July 2014
This is the second in a series of quarterly blogs by super yacht chef Paul Airey charting his experiences working on some of the world’s largest and most expensive private yachts. 

Shore leave

It’s Saturday, you’ve sent the last dish out for the night and you’re doing the big clean down Beach, Key Westbecause you’re closed Sunday and Monday. If you’re lucky, you get a beer to help deal with what the clock is showing on its face. The same clock that you may have been eyeballing as if you had OCD a good few hours ago before service. You didn’t get a bollocking and nothing got sent back. You’re good. Elated. Happy, yet tired, and that one sip of beer has gone straight to your head. You love your job, we all do; we have to, but you’re going home. Not to return for two days. Two whole days! That means sleep, and whatever else you want to do. Sometimes I miss those days. Sometimes. One of things I miss is that slight rush of euphoria on those said evenings where you realise that’s it for the week. You kinda conquered the fight. Next week is next week. You’re outta there. There’s a different buzz on the yacht. It’s not the same. A rare moment with three chefs together on land It may just be you on your own or you and maybe one or two others. There is no brigade of chefs that you get to know like in a real kitchen giving off much the same ‘glad to be going home’ vibe. There is no Saturday night clean down either. There is no going home for two days or even a day off scheduled in. Instead there is the “When ARE they getting off?”, “How many days left now?” and “One of us really needs to sort out the dry stores”. The buzz I’m talking about - the one of going home and being off, is often only really felt at the end of the season. Sure, it’s the job. Nothing prepares you for an all out 10-18 week assault though. Depending on the schedule of the yacht you are on though will determine “mini” Saturday night feelings if you will. Charters (someone rents the boat for a determined amount of time) and owners’ trips, as long as they don’t overlap, (which is common that one group will get off one day and you pick up another Sunset, Key West 2 the very next day) can get close. Look beyond your regular work hour week as you may be in for a while, but as soon as you know when they are leaving, there is no denying the feeling of that clean down happiness. It’s doubtful that you will get to go home though. Instead - and this is no hardship really (unless you have a new family, then I get it) - you will grab whatever you can, wherever you are. Typically I like to get away from everyone. I’m not a loner but I can spend time on my own, and look forward to that. These include a stay in a hotel (boat allowing), book a massage, head to the beach, grab a haircut, a private space with good internet connection so you can have a decent Skype/FaceTime call, food off the boat (somebody else's cooking)etc. You’ve got to take your rewards where you can, even if they are purely to fix yourself up again after the work and time you just spent in everyone’s company before the next round. If you are super lucky, you might even be able to fly someone out to see you, say your girl, guy, parents. The big buzz I am really talking about is the one at the end of the season. This is the real Saturday Monaco Grand Prix night clean down. The reason it is not the same as the ones mid-season, is that you get a chance to go away or home. Have you ever been stuck in a car for too long, a long bus trip, even stuck on the tarmac on a plane? Well when you arrive at your destination or take off, you breathe that sigh of relief. Freedom! Only then do you get the ‘brigade’ feeling. From the Captain right through the boat. Guests were happy, nothing major happened and everyone got through. Sure you’re tired, and that first sip of champagne (or stick to beer - whatever blows your whistle) still goes to your head. That euphoria does come now. It’s a big clean down, the galley is going to drop a gear and you can start looking forward to getting ‘away from it all’ - in reverse. So where would you go, who do you see, what do you do, where in the world are you, how do you divide up your typical six weeks off, who needs to see you first?! Isn’t that a great question? Who cares, it’s your chance to taste normality again, it's "Saturday night". Paul Airey   Paul Airey is a British Chef who has been working in the yachting industry for 9 years. After working in the UK within many restaurants for chefs including Jeff Galvin and Garry Hollihead, an opportunity came along to try his hand onboard the 50m M/Y Thundergulch. His next step took him to 60m M/Y Phoenix (now Aurora) until after five and a half years later he took his first solo chef position on the 55m M/Y Kahalani. Outside of work he is a keen runner and counts himself fortunate to be able to take his R1200GS around the roads of France and Italy! See Paul's first blog here. Pushing the boat out: our guide to becoming a yacht chef See our interview with super yacht chef Sam Boland here

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th July 2014

Life on the Ocean wave: a blog by super yacht chef Paul Airey