Interview with a Super Yacht Chef
Ever wondered what it takes to be a super yacht chef? How you get into it and what things you might be up against? We chatted with a successful onboard chef about how he got to where he is today.
Chef Aaron R
- Australian, originally from Tasmania
- Age 35
- Joined yachting 2008
- Previous yachts include 58m MY GU, 68m MY Archimedes, 58m SY Ethereal
When and how did you realise you wanted to become a chef?
I knew as a child when I helped my mum cook for parties and by experimenting with the different foods available in the fridge.
How did you decide which route to go down in order to become qualified?
When I was finishing the tenth grade my school had a careers week that taught us about apprenticeships. I liked the idea of on the job training, learning as I progressed in my career sounded like the perfect combination.
What was the next step after graduating?
After graduating, I continued working in the restaurant that I was in and began to move up the ranks to run the kitchen. I then moved around to different restaurants with the aim of learning about many different cuisines.
How did you first hear about yachts and what made you decide this was the path for you?
I was backpacking through France when I saw the yachts. I asked a man standing on the aft how I could get into the industry and he gave me some really good advice and you could say the rest is history…
How did you get your first job?
The same guy on the aft deck asked me to come and cook for him and some of his friends one weekend and from there he told me more about the industry and I followed through with it.
Since your first yacht job, have you found work through agencies or by word of mouth?
It has been a bit of both really. If you work hard, spend time in the industry and make a good name for yourself, generally it isn’t difficult to find work.
You have worked on some high profile yachts, what is your best memory and why? (Doesn’t have to be food related).
The highlight of my career would be during a world tour on board MY Archimedes. We were traveling through south east Asia and came across whale sharks, so we stopped and went free diving with the friendly giants for about an hour.
Where is the best place you have visited?
This is a difficult one! There have been so many places for such different reasons! I think it would have to be a toss up between the Marquesas in French Polynesia and the Spice Islands in Indonesia. I saw both whilst on board Archimedes.
What’s the best thing about working on a super yacht?
I get to work with and source the finest produce in the world and I mainly get the freedom to cook what I want. I love being able to create menus on a daily basis rather than seasonally and getting the opportunity to experiment with different and new ingredients. The travel means I get to learn about the different produce from all around the world, which is pretty much a Chef’s dream!
What is your go-to dish that never fails?
My miso and orange glazed black cod with kombu broth and soba noodle is always a winner!
Have you ever passed off something ready made/shop bought as your own?
Not for guests! That’s all I’ll say…
What would be your perfect 3 course menu?
Anything home cooked. I love going back home to my mum’s hot soup, lamb roast and a bowl of cake and hot custard!
If you could cook a dinner party for 5 people, who would the diners be?
Probably the top 5 surfers in the world. I’d try to impress them and sweet-talk them into taking me on a surf trip!
Who is your chef inspiration?
Matthew Kenny, he is a fantastic skilled chef doing amazing things with raw vegan food. I am not a vegan, but to see how food can be transformed into beautiful dishes without cooking or processing is very impressive. I recently completed my professional level raw vegan cuisine at Matthew Kenny Culinary School. It was incredibly inspiring.
Any huge disasters whilst on board? If so, did you manage to pull it back?
Nothing major. One time I had a beef glaze I’d been reducing slowly for a few days and when it came round to using it, my sous chef didn’t realise what it was and had poured it down the sink.
What’s the one piece of kitchen equipment you couldn’t live without?
My Blendtec Blender! I love it…
Have you ever had to serve up a dish for a Michelin starred chef? If so, how did it go?
I have never had to do this but if I did, I can imagine I’d be quite nervous!
If you could offer one bit of advice for newbie chefs trying to enter into yachting, what would it be?
Be persistent and patient, sometimes it can take a while but if you want it, it will come to you.
From 2006 to 2007 Tim was lucky enough to spend two years as a deckhand on MY Sai Ram and MY Leander, two excellent charter yachts. Quay Crew was formed in 2013 and is proving to be a great success: Tim covers the deck department predominantly working on Captain and Officer roles.
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