La Bella Turca!

I’m in Mykonos again…

navigaIf you remember, I spent six months on this famous Greek island in 2013 when I started writing for Naviga, and I almost became a “La bella Turca” of Mykonos, “La Turca Mykonian!” like the princess Perihan (Internationally known Turkish Soprano, socialite, painter, model, columnist and actress who was nicknamed “La Bella Turca” and “La Turca Romana” by the Italian media) It’s no lie, as a super-yacht chef on this island, of course with the help of the good looking Walley brand sail yacht, I can compete with La Bella Turca. To be a bit realist, I am of course more famous in the groceries, butchers and supermarkets than in the street. This indeed is the most important feature of being a chef. You have to get on well with your suppliers! To receive the best product, you have to keep your smile on and make them contend with the best figures. Especially, in this economic environment in Greece, you’re best if you pay tons of money in cash!

naviga1If you ask what it is like to be a super-yacht chef, I would say it is very much about details. For one thing, you don’t always have the opportunity to purchase the same quality good from the same supplier as in a restaurant. You have to be an explorer, and in every country you arrive, you have to know the language of the market, keeping the ties close. You never know when you’ll be back on that shore. You have to do as much as you can to be welcomed two years later just like in the first time with sincere smiles and friendship. There are many who have no idea about the economic impact of this job and its importance. For those who wonder how it is like to be a Head Chef on a super yacht, I am going to hint some sweet explanations.


  • Like any restaurants, super yachts have room sized fridges and freezers which we call cool rooms.
  • naviga3Yacht kitchens are not named “kitchen”. We call them ‘galley’ meaning ship kitchen.
  • The size of yacht kitchens reach up to the size of a restaurant’s kitchen according to the boat’s length. Even when the kitchen is small there are industrial kitchen ware in order to serve food with the quality of a restaurant. It is equipped with a very good industrial oven and from rice machines for serving sushi to 15-20 persons simultaneously to any kind of state of the art electronic devices.
  • The funniest question is how many persons work with a head chef? naviga2No matter what the length of the boat is there are no 20 chefs in the kitchen. There are no individuals responsible for cold appetizers or grill separately like in a restaurant. We don’t have garde manger or pastry section or soucier. We are solely responsible to prepare a new menu and different foods each day! There is nothing like you make a new graduate commis chef to peel off the onions and walk along the kitchen like a sultan giving orders. We peel off the onions then prepare the dish with a chef’s last touch.
  • If the boat is between 60 and 80 meters there are an assistant chef called sous chef, and if it is 100 meters or above we then have a third chef called crew chef responsible for preparing meal for the crew and help us cleaning. That’s it.
  • A 60 meter motor yacht’s crew consists of 15 while, an 80 meter’s crew consists of 20-22 persons. For 100 meter and above boats this number can reach above 50. So you see it is no joke.naviga5
  • You prepare a protein main dish with meat-fish, fish-chicken selection (because there are always vegetarians, allergic people, people being choosy according to their religion or culture), a side dish going well with the main dish meaning vegetables, potatoes, mashes, definitely one carbohydrate like pasta-lasagne-rice, two different salads and a desert. We provide cakes or pastries for refreshment. Michelin quality is not expected for the meal prepared for crews, but the need to be delicious, savory and good in simply Jamie Oliver style.  And we prepare them all by ourselves. In order to avoid criticism such as ‘the same food again!’, one day we serve Thai food, the other Italian and the other French so we dance with cuisines around the world. In short we do not serve white beans for mess.naviga6
  • The dishes prepared for the bosses need to be a lot more detailed, elaborate and with Michelin quality. Because our bosses are not ‘mere’ millionaires but billionaire families and they already have the opportunity to eat the best food at every corner of the world. And we will be fired if do not serve with a similar quality and variety. It is that simple!naviga7
  • The yacht kitchen is not a restaurant kitchen. The boss and the guests do not abide by our hours, we need to adapt to theirs. The time of meals and the number of attendees vary like a stock exchange! While you have adequately prepared dinner for 12, in an instant the number may go up to 20, and in the last instant a guest may come to the kitchen saying ‘sorry I forgot to tell you I am vegan, could you please prepare me a meal with just vegetables’! While the meals are cooked in time, I can hear an announcement from my radio saying ‘Chef, Chef! This is the captain speaking, the meal is postponed for one hour’, and I need to be prepared to keep the dishes warm as well. Or the dinner can be completely cancelled.
  • If we are at the sea for a long time, passing the ocean, then we need to prepare the breads as well.naviga8
  • What we are required to do best is to organize superbly by using the limited storage facilities taking into account that we cannot go to a market every day. Otherwise you sit down, hungry.
  • Filling up a 80 meter yacht with dry material ranging from flour to pasta, from spices to more fancy sauces costs 20 thousand €. Adding, meat, chicken and fish, filling up a big freezer completely for both the boss and the crew costs 70-80 thousand €.
  • Of course this figure changes according to the boss being Russian, Arabic, Italian or French. Meaning do we buy Beluga caviar or Wagyu beef?…naviga9
  • The order costs increase according to the location as well. If we are at the Caribbean or Pacific coasts, the price of the mozzarella provisioned by airplane is small compared to the price of the jet fuel but nobody cares. That mozzarella will come here!
  • The weirdest thing is being obliged to prepare a different menu each day and being familiar with the ingredients that can be seen at every market in every language around every part of the world. We arrive Spain with the flour we buy from Greece, We then depart to Venezuela with the flour we buy from Spain and we have to maintain the same taste for Italian focaccia every time. Knowing well how you cook a fruit and vegetable or fish that we have not seen before, coming from a tropical island means mastering world’s different cuisines. Do you even think how many dishes superyacht chefs know cooking?

For the ones who are wandering about what is being a head chef in a super yacht, I wanted to make same small and tasty explanations.

Now getting away from the Dutch cuisine, which indeed is not my taste, and starting cooking Mediterranean cuisine, my expertise, on an Italian boat.

How about some Mykonos atmosphere next month for those who might have missed the previous articles?

See you in October!