Preparing Your Exit from the Superyacht Industry… We all understand that working as a superyacht chef is a demanding and taxing profession. Equally, we recognise that all good things (even those that don’t feel good at the time) must eventually come to an end. And so must your superyacht career. On average, based purely on my personal experience, the typical yacht chef spends 10 to 15 years on board before transitioning to a more stable life ashore.

What are your end goals or exit strategy options, you may wonder? Well, there are a few obvious ones, and some that are not so apparent. Join Montclair Chef as they dive into the afterworld of yachting for chefs in their monthly Galley Crumbs blog.

What can I do when I grow up? This is the question every yacht chef has asked themselves at least 12 or 13 times, last year only…

As mentioned in many of my other articles – being a chef is hard – being a yacht chef is harder – and being a successful yacht chef is the hardest. Now, after you’ve spent countless short nights aboard your floating “golden prison”, what can you do with your life apart from sitting on a beach somewhere in Bali or Costa Rica eating and drinking your savings away? Well, you’ll most likely continue cooking because this is what you enjoy the most, and you’ll be doing it because it’s what you know and do best. 

So, here is my top 5 pre-retirement or post-yachting options for yacht chefs once they’ve had enough of the luxury lifestyle:

1 – Become A Private Chef For A Family – Duh!

The most apparent choice after working for a UHNW family onboard their superyacht is to inquire if they need a chef at their personal home. This would be the most logical option for you, the superyacht chef. I know a few chefs who have made the smooth transition to a shore-based private chef position for the principals they were employed by, and they haven’t looked back. They retain (most of) the comfortable income, they know whom they are cooking for, and, cherry on top, they get to go home to their very own family after their shift. What more could you ask for?

This is obviously great if you happen to live in the same country as the yacht owners, but as we both know, this is rarely the case. So, unless you are willing to relocate, this option might not be feasible for most of us. Also, a little caveat: your “owners” might already have a great chef back home and may not be looking for an extra set of hands to take care of their cooking needs at their domicile. Sorry about that!

2 – Open Your Own Restaurant

Why don’t you open your own restaurant? That’s what most of your friends and family will tell you. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’ve done it, and it was as successful as you could imagine, and as stressful as you can also imagine… Long story short, it was an incredible experience, one that I will never forget, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t what I saw myself doing forever.

The constraints of the set menu and the pressure to deliver to hundreds of online TripAdvisor critics out there were very overwhelming. Even though my partner and I successfully sold the restaurant to a young and ambitious couple, it was really hard work and it did put a strain on our relationship. But we did create an incredible little spot for food and wine lovers that, to this day, people talk about and wish we would start again.

3 – Open Your Catering Company & Offer Private Chef Services

This is a route that I haven’t taken, but my good friend Ross, an ex-yacht chef running Private Chef Mallorca ( follow him on IG @PrivateChefMallorca ) has taken it, and he gets to cook for some incredible people in incredible places, on the beautiful island of Mallorca in the Balearics, and sometimes even outside of Spain. Some of his regular clients even often fly him over to their private homes abroad to recreate some of his dishes they experienced while having him cook magical dishes here, in Mallorca.

This path could offer you the freedom to be your own boss and the continuation in your career to strengthen your skills as a private chef. This isn’t something for everyone but if you are resilient and are serious about continuing your cooking career in the private industry, this could be something to consider.

4 – Invest in Real Estate & Live off of Your Passive Income

If you have been employed on superyachts for a mere 15 years, you have most likely earned over 1 Million bucks in gross income (below is a breakdown of how I came up to this extravagant amount), and if you have kept a low profile and a strict budget, you should have saved, after taxes (Yes, you most likely owe taxes somewhere), at least 80% of your generated income, or over €370k (I sure didn’t! 🙁).

Breakdown of 15 years of earning onboard:

  • 5 years at €5.5k average monthly salary, working 10 months per year = €275k
  • 5 years at €7k average salary per month, working 10 months per year = €350k
  • 5 years at €8.5k average salary per month, working 10 months per year = €425k
  • Total of €1.05 Million before tax. 

The worldwide income tax average on such a high amount is about 55%, so you’d be left with 570k minus your crazy living expenses and good times, estimated @ 40% = €472k of savings, Net in the bank.

€370k gives you access to the option to purchase a couple of properties in a sunny location such as Costa Rica or Mexico, and the rental income generated by them could be sufficient for a frugal lifestyle in Central America. Something that wouldn’t give you access to the latest Apple products you are currently used to, but would definitely cover basic housing expenses and put food on the table. But forget about trying out fancy new Michelin star places without doing a couple of weeks freelance work onboard your mate’s yacht!

5 – Open A Yachting Recruitment Agency:

Starting your own yachting recruitment agency may seem like a nice venture, and it isn’t a new concept. I’ve been running my own agency for over 18 months. Despite what you might think, this endeavor is neither straightforward nor a quick path to wealth. Contrary to expectations, the work involved is extensive and challenging (feel free to start your agency, and I’d be glad to offer guidance). The progress in platforms like “Yotspot” has significantly altered the recruitment landscape. Many superyachts turn to such platforms for their recruitment needs due to the speed and cost-efficiency they offer, providing access to hundreds of CVs rapidly at a fraction of the cost of traditional agencies.

However, the downside is to rely on the accuracy of the information presented in these 100s of CVs you’d be getting and the necessity of sifting through them on your own… If you’re a Captain and you want to kill time and prefer a more hands-on approach, why not manage the recruitment process yourself?

If you’re drawn to the personal aspect of the business and enjoy lengthy conversations with candidates, then managing a recruitment agency could align with your interests. Yet, temper your expectations my friends: achieving a salary comparable to even an entry level yachting income might take years, if it even happens, involving countless hours of back and forth communication, numerous job postings, and facing the reality that clients may bypass your services for platforms like Yotspot or simply and clearly ghost you, because well.. Because they can and because they don’t actually pay you for the services until and only if they hire someone.

This insight isn’t a complaint but a candid reflection of the challenges in recruitment, particularly for chefs. The industry’s realities are often different from our perceptions.


“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to superyacht chef retirements or the “after-Yachting life”, but if there was only one piece of advice I could give to a chef thinking about their exit from this awesome industry, it is this: plan your exit REALLY WELL. Plan every step carefully, budget your future costs and expenses well, and take the leap of faith! If done properly, you won’t regret it; you will only regret not doing anything. 

Remember, You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so go ahead and start that new business venture you have always dreamed of and trust your gut. But do so in a clever way and make sure you have enough financial resources to cover your launch costs, your cash flow, AND keep a safety cushion (aka: a few months of income if things hit the fan, and they might just do that). 

Life is short, and you are a chef, so there’s no way you won’t find another job anywhere in the world. 

Good luck, chef!

Montclair Chef specialises in Yacht Crew and Private Chef recruitment globally.

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