In a series of interviews from the Antigua Charter Yacht Show in December, we catch up with Anne Carson, former yacht chef, with a significant stint on Pendennis-built SY Adela, who now works closely with the industry teaching yacht chefs Japanese cooking, in a consultancy role for shipyards with regards to galley layouts and organising the annual Antigua Charity Golf Day. Carson looks back on her experience of the industry and how the role of a chef on board has evolved.

“I started in the industry in 1985,” Carson begins, “But yacht chefs now have a much more demanding job because the boats are bigger, chartering them is much more costly and so everything has to be top quality. It is especially tough on the sailing yachts because of the galley sizes.”

Anne Carson on board Adela with husband Captain Steve Carson

But Carson admits that things have improved immensely with regards to the perception and nurturing of chefs on board. “The fact that yachts now help with the payment of courses and give chefs time outside of their holidays to go and do them is very good,” she explains. “It can be quite tough going when you are cooking all of the time and then have to go off and do courses. It is important to have some downtime too.”

Taking such courses are essential to fit in with the evolving role of superyacht chefs. “They have to know a lot more than a chef in a Michelin starred restaurant,” Carson adds. “They need to know how to cook different cuisines; how to make pizza, pasta, dumplings, sushi and many more. If you take a regular chef, even from a very good restaurant, they usually have one speciality cuisine. But on superyachts chefs have to be capable of a whole range of cooking.”

So the professional standard of yacht chefs has improved in the last decade? “Oh yes,” Carson replies.  “Of course it helps that provisioning has got a lot better. In Antigua you used to be able to buy chickens and that was about it, but nowadays there are companies such as National Marine who can fly things in. Wherever you go around the world you can fly in all sorts of herbs and ingredients that you wouldn’t be able to get locally. So that’s one thing that makes a yacht chef’s life a whole lot easier.”

"When you are designing a crew area, the important thing is not necessarily the equipment, it’s the functionality.”

One aspect that Carson notes could improve is the consideration of galleys in the design and planning stages of a refit or new build. “The captain will normally take care of the engineering side of things, but the galley often gets ignored when, if taken into consideration, it could make all the difference to the chef,” she explains. “When we first started on Adela we were ironing in the main saloon because there was nowhere in the crew area to do it. I never thought in a million years that we would be able to do anything about it – we were on a sailing boat after all – but one day I was offered the opportunity to be involved in the refit.

“The owners chopped the boat in half and told us to do what we wanted with it. We built a big pantry, a big galley, the old galley became fridge and freezer and we had a crew mess with its own sink, dishwashers and fridges. The laundry room had four machines, a big storage cupboard and a place for the ironing board. When you are designing a crew area, the important thing is not necessarily the equipment, it’s the functionality.”

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