Chef, 114-foot motoryacht Polycarpus
Date interviewed: May 2007
How did you realize you wanted to become a chef?
In Belgium, where I am from, you go to cooking school at 12 years old. You’re too young to make that decision, but my mother always said I was helping in the kitchen while my brothers and sisters were outside playing.
She said to try for one year to see if I liked it, and I ended up staying for seven years. I did one specialization a year, staying an extra year to do seven instead of the normal six. My last year was banquets, how to carve fruit and that sort of thing.
What additional training did you undergo?
When I was 18 and a half, I sent my resume to Michelin restaurants in Belgium. I started out at a two-star. There were two of us for the position, and the other candidate was 25 or 26 years old. After three days, the boss chose me. I stayed there for about eight months.
Why did you decide to work onboard yachts?
The owner of Polycarpus was in the restaurant, and he asked to meet the cook who had made his lobster. I went to his table and we had a talk. It turned out he was living five minutes from my house.
He had me go to his house and cook for him, his wife, and his friends. It was January of 2005. I made all little things, samples so to speak, seven or eight courses of pasta, fish and meat. He asked me to work onboard his yacht, and I said yes.
What do you think makes your yacht’s crew unique or special?
This is my first boat, and I’m only 22. I like the owner and the owner likes me. We go season per season, but it could be that I stay here ten years.
How do you determine what meals you will prepare for charter guests?
Before they come onboard, our management company sends us their likes and dislikes. So far, the guests have all said, “You are the cook, you do what you like.”
How important are guests’ preference sheets to you?
I use them to determine their allergies, as well as their likes and dislikes.
What are some of your specialty dishes, or often-requested favorites?
I like to make food with local products. If we are in Croatia, I don’t like to make French or Italian food. I make high-standard food, but from the local places.
In Santorini, for example, they have world-famous cherry tomatoes. So I’ll make a sauce or a sorbet from cherry tomatoes. The guests like it because it educates them about food and the world.
I do always have Belgian chocolates onboard. And Spanish people never have seen Brussels sprouts, so I like to introduce them to that, as well, to what is from my country.
What is a typical day’s menu onboard your yacht?
I adjust the menu to the guests. Some people like a big buffet breakfast, others just fruit and smoked salmon. Lunches are usually light, because with water sports going on three courses are too much.
For dinner, I usually do at least three or four courses. Perhaps an amuse-bouche, a starter, a soup, a main and a dessert.
What kind of charter guests are your favorites?
I like the ones who say, “be creative.” I’ve never had a guest who has not said that to me.
What, if any, awards have you won?
None, but that’s because I don’t enter contests.
Some chefs have awards to be famous. It’s never fair. All the chefs never even enter, so you don’t really know who is the best. I think it’s best to be known from the galley. Not in front of the cameras.
What else should CharterWave readers know about you and your yacht?
The galley onboard Polycarpus is open. The guests come in and learn to cook. Last year, a guest was in here making sushi with me.
My door is always open, even to small children while their parents are out enjoying the water. We make cookies together. They love it.
Also, I have created a full-color cookbook for our charter guests to take home. It has some of my favorite recipes, including wine pairings. So our guests get something extra from our galley that they do not have onboard other yachts.
The 114-foot motoryacht Polycarpus is part of the fleet at Camper & Nicholsons International. She takes 12 guests with seven crew at a weekly base rate of $102,000, or about $10,600 per person with typical 25-percent expenses factored in. Contact any reputable charter broker for more information.