So you’ve been slaving away in the galley for a while now, you can menu plan with your eyes closed, make a gourmet guest dessert at the same time as making the deckhands favourite hummus, and make shine a hob in seconds. In which case, it’s time to step up. But, how do you go from a Superyacht sous chef to head chef?
From cooking for the crew and supporting the head chef with guest food to keeping on top of the galley maintenance, a sous chef position already requires significant preparation and organisation to keep on top of the various tasks throughout the day, week and month. The transition to a head chef is about running the galley with increased responsibility as a Head of Department (HOD). It is more than simply ensuring everyone onboard gets fed. You must balance the budget, communicate with the Chief Stew about the guests, supervise other chefs, and organise rotas. You are the one that will be held accountable for everything that leaves the galley.
Don’t get burnt
As a Sous, you are already more than capable of doing everyday galley tasks without thinking, but as Head chef, the temperature rises. You will experience a lot more pressure when you are in charge. It is vital to keep your stress levels in check however you know how. Start your days calmly and focussed and end them reflective and content.
Don’t doubt yourself when you are about to step up. Imposter syndrome is natural for most people moving up the career ladder. As Nina Wilson, aka @thecrewchef suggests, “go with confidence and know that everyone else is also making it up as they go along.”
Understand that perfection isn’t attainable; this can be hard to grasp in the yachting industry but be sure to quiet your inner critic. You can begin to do this as a Sous chef; at the end of each day, write down your accomplishments and any positive feedback you got; this can be a great resource to look back on when you have stepped up and start to doubt yourself.
The food doesn’t just speak for itself
As a Head chef, you need very efficient communication skills. Communication is king. From ensuring the Chief Stew knows what is going on to the engineer knowing what part of the dishwasher broke. Not only do you need to keep good lines of communication open to all departments, but you may also need to liaise directly with guests, discussing menu plans and preferences.
Be thyme aware
Like all job roles within the superyacht industry, organisation skills are vital and set you aside from others. When stepping up from a Superyacht Sous chef to Head chef, @thecrewchef explains that you need to be “excessively organised.” As well as ensuring everything food-wise is taken care of each day, you will have additional tasks constantly going on in the background, so organisation is critical. Tips from @cupcakeatsea, such as “always write things down” and “try and work a day or two ahead”, are invaluable to chefs wanting to improve organisation.
Go against the grain
Uniqueness makes the world go around; everyone is different. That doesn’t change when it comes to chefs; whilst each chef may have the same basic knowledge and skillset to become a chef, each has a unique skill set that they have developed through their cooking, whether that be through cooking methods, various cuisines through to work ethic. The cheffing world is competitive, so when stepping up, understand and establish your personal brand to define your niche. It will likely stem from whatever you are most passionate about. Perhaps you are vegan, from a particular food region, or love creating dessert masterpieces. It is always beneficial to upskill and learn, continue to train and go on courses whilst still being in charge.
A lot on your plate
As a Head chef, you will have increased tasks; stepping into this HOD role will ensure this. Creating the menus and being responsible for all provisioning needs is one thing, but you will also need to keep up with your budgeting and accounting.
“As a sous chef, you can begin to show initiative to learn more than just crew food, for example, ordering, accounts, how to deal with other HODs and guests respectfully – @theyachtchef. “
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