There is no limit to the wealth of opinion freely available these days on how job performance is directly linked to working environment- and the same is true for the role of a superyacht chef.
Indeed, as shipyards and owners compete with each other to launch the next 100m+ yacht, it is fair to say that the general mood amongst yacht chefs is altogether a positive one. Larger yachts means more room in the yachts working areas, and of course this translates into never-seen before galley spaces which are as modern as they are vast.
Historically, in the days when a well-endowed yacht was just a shade over 50m, owners were reluctant to sacrifice living space for crew and other working areas if they could at all help it. Step onboard a classic Feadship from before around 1990 for example, and for the most part you’ll find a galley that largely represents a home-style kitchen with few mod-cons, if at the very least tasteful interior decor. Cruising was a different game back then- with less boats on the water and ample space in the marinas. Guests ventured ashore for restaurant meals more often in the calm of the Mediterranean- with few worries for safety or privacy in the relative peace of the pre-internet age.
Fast forward to 2016 however and things have changed rather a lot. With the advent of the large Explorer, yachts are operating for longer than ever and in some of the most far-flung territories on earth. Yacht builders know that the galleys they specify onboard have to be a slick, near-commercial operation from the get-go.
But how best to make use of this space in order to maximize the efficiency of the chefs-galley?
The Best in Superyacht Galley Design
It doesn’t take a degree in master architecture to dream up a functioning galley space, but equally it would be foolish to address a layout without first consulting a professional yacht chef, who is well versed in the trials and tribulations of cooking up better-than-restaurant quality food in a Force 5…
In truth, most of the chefs we spoke to during the creation of this piece agreed on one point: that any form of professional consultation with the actual end-user is the single most-important factor in ensuring a new-build yacht galley is delivered to its maximum potential.
Speaking with Julian Kimberley, an entrepreneur and galley design expert who owns his own galley consultancy called GN Espace, we were able to deduce that there is still vast scope in the marketplace for specialist contractors in these types of working areas onboard the yacht. Indeed, the success of similar businesses such as superyacht gym designers Gym Marine and high-octane yacht supplier Superyacht Tenders & Toys shows us that the industry is still very much willing to listen to experts.
— GN Espace (@GN_Espace) January 17, 2017
GN Espace has been operating in the space for well over 10 years, and has overseen the evolution of superyacht galleys as yachts become larger and larger. In general Julian feels that primarily the yacht design sector has started to embrace the idea that perhaps function-over-form is the key to delivering this working area to its best potential.
‘In the past these galleys were very much designed as home-style kitchens, made to look beautiful with plenty of wood and marble’ he tells us.
‘Practically speaking though these galleys are commercial kitchens nowadays, more akin to restaurant or hotel cooking facilities. This means that we are urging designers to include more surfaces and units in stainless steel and take more time studying the layout, in order to ensure better levels of food hygiene and efficiency.’
The galley is not a guest area as such, therefore it makes sense that they be made to the chef’s specification rather than the owner’s- on the proviso that this is an effective way to ensure the food is as good as possible.
What chefs say about the dream yacht galley.
Of the chefs we spoke to regarding the optimization of the modern superyacht galley, most were in agreement that space and storage trumps having an overflowing war-chest containing the latest culinary gadgets.
‘Preparation is key,’ says Jules Wigley, a kiwi chef who has enjoyed a career cooking onboard some of the most high profile yachts in the industry, ‘I tend to ensure that at the beginning of the season or before a charter I stock up with just about every conceivable thing a guest could request. We have always been lucky to have ample freezer space and large dry stores on the yachts I’ve worked with. When I have been presented with tighter storage solutions, I have employed multiple-use pieces of equipment to make room for more provisions. Having the right ingredients is much more important than having a special gadget when space is at a premium’
Whatever the future holds for the new-build market (can they keep getting larger?) one thing is for certain; the galley and its chefs remain at the heart of the yachting experience, and special consideration should be reserved for ensuring that these facilities become the best-planned areas onboard.