Superyacht provisioning company Penum has launched a mentoring programme to help chefs and interior crew, providing those either new to the industry or in need of some guidance support from experienced crew.

The chef mentor programme was set up in March 2015 and its mentors include chefs who are working or have worked on vessels including Cakewalk, Pelorus, Solemates, I Dynasty, Amevi and Octopus.

“I basically put them in email contact and then the mentees have got a buddy to help them out, whether it’s, ‘I’ve been on this boat 12 months. Should I stay and do another season or think about this other boat?’ Or it could be, ‘I’d like to do this course. Will it help my career?’ Or even suggesting a menu plan. Basically, for anything you’d want to ask an established chef, the mentees have this buddy system in place,” explains Penum’s Ellie Barker.

Earlier this month, in May 2015, Penum launched the interior mentoring programme, which has mentors including those working on or who have worked on Pelorus, Al Mirqab, Savannah and projects in the shipyard.

“Every second stewardess coming up the ranks is hopefully being trained by her chief stew, but they might not get all the answers from just one chief stewardess,” Barker explains. She adds that, in some cases, as with any department on board, stews can find themselves in the situation where their chief stew is hesitant to impart knowledge for fear of being outshined. “But it’s not about that,” she goes on. “It’s about learning from a different person in a really informal way. Another way to get help up the ladder with someone who’s probably made some mistakes along the way and could say, ‘Here's what I've learned, I'd do it this way’.”

The hope is that the second stews who are mentees today will become mentors in the future and we will see what Barker terms, “a positive cycle of mentoring in the industry”. Becoming a mentor, adds Barker, adds a little something extra to a crewmember’s CV.

"Too often crew make career decisions based on these stories they hear in the bar as they do not know where to turn to and ask for guidance."

- Laura Lander, chief stewardess

Chief stewardess Laura Lander is one of Penum’s mentors, and was attracted to the programme as a result of the troubles of miscommunication in the industry. “I have lost count of the number of times I have been sitting in a yachtie bar somewhere and had a conversation where someone speaks with absolute conviction about a story in the industry which I know to be incorrect. This industry abounds with stories that tend to be half-truths, bad advice and sometimes down-right fantasy. Too often crew make career decisions based on these stories they hear in the bar as they do not know where to turn to and ask for guidance,” she explains.

“So when I was approached by Penum to be a mentor for its mentoring programme I jumped at the chance. It is such a privilege and pleasure to be able to offer an honest insight to crewmembers looking to advance their careers in this industry. I hope that crew take advantage of this fantastic programme to connect with experienced crew who can give them sound advice and a realistic account of what they can expect as they climb their yachting career ladder.”

Penum is looking to expand the programme, but there are still a few spaces left for crew looking to be mentored on the current chef and interior programmes. If you’re interested in being mentored or becoming a mentor, sign up here.