The certification requirement has been in place some eight years; however, it is only in the past 12 months that superyacht crew have begun to ask questions about the suitability of the certification to the superyacht industry. Consequently, the Professional Yachting Association (PYA) has been working with the MCA to provide an alternative route for superyacht crew.
On Friday 26 September, Roger Towner, chief examiner at the MCA, told an audience, which included a number of superyacht chefs, about the available options at the Monaco Yacht Show's PYA Sea Changes Interior forum.
To receive a Ship Cook’s certificate, a crewmember without any shore-based cooking qualifications listed by the MCA (an extensive list can be found on the MCA’s website) must take a tailor-made 12-month cookery course and complete one month of sea time.
Thanks to the work of the PYA and MCA, those with a land-based cookery qualification on the MCA’s approved list, now need only take a 2.5 day course and complete one month of sea time.
“This is about cooking wholesome meals for crew. We need to remember what this qualification is for.”
Towner was keen to assure the qualification is only a requirement for crew on board commercial vessels cooking for 10 or more crew; the requirement does not apply to those on a private vessel, no matter who they’re cooking for, nor does it apply to those on a commercial vessel cooking for fewer than 10 crew.
“This is about cooking wholesome meals for crew,” explained Joey Meen, training and certification director of the PYA. “We need to remember what this qualification is for.” However, Towner did recommend all chefs get the certificate, making them suitable for future employments that would require the certificate.
The 2.5 day assessment will consist of a mixture of practical and theoretical (multiple choice) examinations, and is based on basic culinary knowledge, such as making pastry, pasta and yacht-specific safety practices in the galley. It is not, Towner confirmed, an examination to show off the type of culinary skills chefs would be expected to demonstrate to charter guests and/or owners.
However, this does not mean all chefs will sail through the examination. “We have had a lot of good chefs having trouble baking bread,” explained Duncan Briggs, of the PYA chef working group. So far 14 people have taken the MCA’s 2.5 day assessment, which has produced a 21 per cent failure rate.
Towner also announced the UK would accept Ship Cook’s certificates from other MLC-compliant flags.