It occurs to me that from an outsiders perspective the level of seriousness with which I approach my position as chief stew on “Honor” may not fully make sense. These uber-wealthy guests are used to the finest service and hospitality standards in the world. We as yacht crew are effectively running a Michelin starred restaurant, a high-end water sports company, and a Ritz Carlton at the same time. Even at that, The Ritz and the high-end restaurants don’t take the time to learn the preferences of their guests in advance so as to give them the most personalized service possible. When was the last time a hotel sent you a preference sheet ahead of your trip to ask what your favorite bathroom soap scent was, or what your favorite candy is so they could have it on hand, or how you like your steak cooked so we never have to ask while you are onboard? It is this attention to detail and care that we take with our guests that, aside from the scenery, sets us apart from just about any other kind of vacation one could take. We try to ensure that our guests feel like they are in fact getting the most out of the ridiculous amount of money they spend on these trips.
Maybe a little bit of background on me will help you understand where I am coming from and how I ended up as the chief stew on “Honor”. I came into yachting as a chef/stew on a 106’ Westport. The owner was looking for a trained and experienced chef that could be trained as a stew. I was fortunate to have patient crew to help me learn the stew part of the job; that doesn’t mean it was easy. Learning to juggle your time between cooking for the guests (up to 8 at a time) and keeping the interior in near spotless condition was a challenge. I wasn’t used to being the chef, dishwasher, laundry girl, housekeeper, and waiter. After years of trying to pick up the “tricks of the trade” and self teaching, someone finally turned me on the “The Insiders Guide to Being a Yacht Stewardess” by Julie Perry, which really helped me put a lot of the time management and details in perspective. For years I freelanced, trying out several variations of chefing and stewing until I decided to drop the stew part and focus solely on the chef part which is really where my passion lies. I have cooked for rock stars on tour, politicians at charity events, and even backstage at music festivals like Austin City Limits.
At the end of the day I am a chef with lots of stewardessing experience on boats from 75’- 130’. When the opportunity arose to try my hand as chief stew on the 164’ Honor, however far outside my comfort zone it was, I had to give it a shot. I’ve done just about every other position in yachting (save Captain and engineer because both of those postitions require loads of schooling and licensing) so it seemed natural to try out the chief stew role at least once. It was a massive learning curve! I could never understand why so many of the chief stews I encountered in my industry possessed such an extraordinary level of anal retention when it came to their jobs and now I know why. I went into this thinking that “I would be different” that “I would be more relaxed” and quickly I learned that was a near impossibility. My guests and my other senior crew members expected perfection which is what we are paid for. This career certainly has its “positives”, but boy does it have its negatives too…
Thank you for joining me on this adventure! Looking forward to Episode Two of #BelowDeck tomorrow night!