Mark Hill was the chef onboard the 175-foot Feadship motoryacht High Chaparral before joining the 175-foot Feadship motoryacht Hurricane Run.
Chef, 175-foot motoryacht Hurricane Run
Date interviewed: December 2008
What training did you undergo to become a chef?
I always cooked as a child in Australia, and I did my apprenticeship in Sydney at several restaurants. One was known for seafood, another for French, another for Italian, and another was a four-star hotel. Fusion food is also very big in Sydney, and I worked at a fusion restaurant, too. That was my first real job, in 1986.
After that, I went to work in England, and I was miserable. I had French friends back in Sydney, and their son lived in Cannes. I’d never even seen a yacht at that point, but I went over to meet him and see what might come of it.
You ended up leaving there pretty quickly—and moving around a lot.
That’s right. After about six weeks in Cannes, I was about to give up, and then I got a job onboard a 75-foot Falcon motoryacht that was going to Greece the very next day. It was a private boat, not for charter, and I ended up staying there three years, until 1997.
Then, I got onboard a boat that was traveling the world. It was a private yacht, but set up and run like a charter yacht, with lots of the owner’s guests coming aboard. I spent six months there in the Baltic Sea, Russia, and Denmark.
After that, I did six weeks on a boat in Malaysia, then went back to Europe to work on private and charter boats. The first true charter boat I enjoyed and stayed aboard for any length of time was Pari, a 131-foot motoryacht. I liked it a lot because, with all the charter guests, I got to change the menus around.
I was there from 2001 until 2004, which is when I joined the 164-foot Feadship motoryacht High Chaparral. I’ll be here until February 2009, when I am scheduled to join the crew on the owner’s new Feadship, called Hurricane Run.
Because of High Chaparral’s excellent charter reputation, Hurricane Run is one of the most widely anticipated launches of 2009. Are you involved with the construction?
Yes. I’m not going to the shipyard until February 2009, but I’m currently giving my input into the galley design.
It’s not right the way some owners do it, where you put in a multimillion-dollar bridge but have no fan inside the galley. Our owner is doing it right. We’re going to have a convection oven with steam injection, for instance, that will help me make even better breads for our charter clients.
What are some of your specialty dishes?
As an Australian, I’ve really learned a bit of everything. I’m not like a French chef who can make delicious sauces, but no sushi.
My personal favorites are cooking Asian food and Thai food. I like it really spicy, but not everyone does, which I’m aware of and can adjust accordingly. I also like making desserts.
One whole cupboard in my galley is full of cookbooks. I change them out, which helps me keep the menus and options fresh for our guests.
How seriously do you take the preference sheets that clients fill out before their charters?
I rely heavily on the preference sheets. When the guests arrive, I will have already reviewed the preference sheets, and then I sit down with the guest to make sure I understand what they want.
We can do a lot of things. We’ve done no carbs, no sugar, and we’re about to do a gluten-free charter menu. As long as the guests are clear about what they want, we are happy to do it.
What is your typical day’s menu for charter guests aboard High Chaparral?
It depends on the guests. In general, though, we will do a buffet breakfast with homemade pastries and Danishes, sliced fruit, and a hot meal made to order.
My lunches tend to be three courses, but if the guests want a buffet, that’s fine too. For dinner, I will do canapés and then three courses, all plated. Another dinner option is a beach barbecue, and a lot of clients enjoy that.
Do you plan to bring that same program to Hurricane Run?
Yes. It should be no problem to maintain the same quality of service. A lot of boats have two engineers and one chef, but we have two chefs—myself and assistant chef Paul Burwood—so that gives us more time to do more things and make the meals more complex and interesting.
What else should CharterWave readers know about you?
High Chaparral will still be available for charter after I move on to Hurricane Run, and guests should expect the same, excellent charter experience that has always been provided.
Hurricane Run will be in Mediterranean waters this summer, but only for owner use. We’ll become available for charter in winter 2009-10 in the Caribbean.
High Chaparral and Hurricane Run are both part of the fleet at Camper & Nicholsons International. Each yacht takes 12 guests. High Chaparral’s weekly base rate is €235,000. Hurricane Run is yet to release its charter rates. Any reputable charter broker can provide you with more information.