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

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th April 2014
This is the first 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.  It’s that moment in a person’s life when you suddenly realise that you no longer want to continue in your present employment. If you’re like me, it won’t be because you are overlooked, neglected, My home for the last three and a half years ignored, abused or even underpaid. It’s simply because you need a fresh challenge, a new spark of interest, to work with or for somebody else that brings out the best in you and your food or just new surroundings. That sentence would read differently I am sure if I was in a regular job, but I’m not. I work onboard on a 55m motor yacht, well, I do for another week and a half. The current owner I work for is self made. The family and friends are some of the nicest people that I have ever met and an added bonus is that they made my life comfortable for three and a half years by enjoying the food I cooked for them. I have been in the fortunate position to have worked with a fantastic crew and without whom could have made my life as solo chef a lot more difficult. Now, it’s with a heavy heart that I am leaving, but I know it is for the right reasons. So what next? Where am I going? Simply put, I don’t know yet. Until I do know, I have been asked to help find my own replacement. Cue the Devil and Angel on each shoulder. “Get someone worse than you!”, “Find someone better!” The truth is, whoever is out there is out there and it’s not my final decision to make. Saying The view from my window-croppedthat, the agencies here in France have sent through some great CVs and I have had telephone conversations with possible candidates to take over my job. The striking thing for me is that out of four conversations so far, only one has asked why I am leaving. I must sell the job really well! To be honest, it is a good one and leaving on good terms is always the best plan of action when moving on. So what does this all mean to you the reader? Well, I kind of wanted to share a few stories that I have heard from the other chefs I interviewed, a sort of heads up in this “glamorous lifestyle”, and a bit of gossip!! Some of the stories I heard are enough to show that this job is not always as glamorous as it sounds! One chef told me about when he took a job on a new build boat and had three weeks to get it ready. I guess if you’ve ever set up a restaurant or been involved in it, then you have an idea how much planning and organising that takes. He told me that only four days before they left the ship yard did he receive money to buy his equipment. They had 18 guests turn up for a two week trip shortly after, and it was just him and his sous chef who had to feed the guests breakfast, lunch and dinner, a crew of 26 to look after AND still had to set up the galley. It begs belief but he said the guests came onboard and he still had boxes to unpack, the freezersThe most common question from all the Chefs has been, how big is the fridge-cropped went up to 37 degrees C and he lost all of his stock (meat, fish, ice-creams etc..) - all because the new owner wanted to use his new boat. I can relate with a similar story of my own when a new build boat I was on hadn’t had the equipment tested. Cut to the not so funny scene of ovens leaking with every wave and puffs of steam shooting out at you. Think of the old TV show Fun House and you might guess what crazy stuff happened. There was a story from one guy who I spoke to who was in the unlucky/lucky position to have been on a boat in either America or the Mediterranean that got sold and it moved to Thailand! Another chef is looking to step up and take a first chef position (having only worked as second/ sous on previous boats) which is great. As was mentioned in The Staff Canteen editorial, “Pushing the boat out: our guide to becoming a yacht chef” it is definitely a great way to go. So interviewing the chefs in the end was great and not as awkward as I thought it would be. It has given me another insight into what could be around the corner for me, a reassurance that this is never a boring job, and a little peace knowing that if one of those guys gets my job, they are going to be happy here! This seems to be the moving on period. End of the winter season, and the start of the summer. Who knows what the next instalment will bring? See our guide on how to become a yacht chef here And see our interview with another super yacht chef Sam Boland here   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!  

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th April 2014

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