“This topic has been coming up a lot recently and it is something that I have been hearing about since I joined yachting,” Slomovits explains. “The issue is when you have a chef in the yachting industry that really isn’t a chef at all, that is what I call a glorified cook at best. This is when these problems rise to the top and crew egos really come out.” But, Slomovits admits, the problem cannot always stem from an untrained chef. “It also can be to do with the chef being put in an environment of non-professionals and expecting him or her to be able to do a proper job,” Slomovits revealed, recalling one particular boat he worked on where the interior crew did not know how to lay the table or make a coffee.
Slomovits went on to state that the irregularity of yacht chefs might also be the result of limited training or recognisation in the industry. “I can’t speak for everyone but great chefs spend a lifetime building their craft, knowledge and experience,” Slomovits explains. “When we enter yachting, all we have to do is our STCW-95 and ENG 1, there are no courses and sea time doesn’t even count for us. Yachting chefs are not setting the global standards in cooking at all, we are not even recognised globally, the James Beard Foundation doesn’t even have a category for the private chef or yacht chef. You do have personal chef associations out there but it isn’t globally recognized and your not winning awards for working on a yacht.”
The lack of official regulations and notoriety in yacht chef arena means that sometimes, standards can slip. “You have a lot of these back-packing yachting chefs that enter into yachting with no formal training, no foundation and no experience other than working at a pub or working as a line-cook, not as a chef,” Slomovits reveals. “The title of chef really gets thrown around in the industry these days.”
Slomovits believes that this is key to the reputation that yacht chefs have in the industry. “One of the problems we have on the culinary side of this industry is that it doesn’t have a true certification standard for chefs and some of these crew agencies wouldn’t know the difference between an accredited culinary degree and one week cooking course,” he observes. “In order to change and improve the quality of chef, not glorified cooks, entering in this industry, the MCA and PYA must ensure a higher standard.”