HOW TO GET THE BEST FROM YOUR SUPERYACHT PROVISIONING COMPANY
Last updated: 04/07/2018
It’s one of a superyacht chef’s toughest tasks – delivering mouth-watering meals that will satisfy owners and discerning guests for the duration of their stays on board. With grand expectations, special requests and quick turnaround times to contend with, superyacht chefs find themselves under intense pressure.
For this reason, provisioning companies have become a yacht chef’s best friend. Whether it’s sourcing rare items, providing the freshest and finest produce, or fulfilling delivery at the drop of a hat, provisioners can play an integral role in the smooth running of a busy superyacht galley.
But how have provisioning companies become so invaluable? With the help of Elisabetta Ierardi of Monaco-based Maison del Gusto, we outline the key services a provisioner offers and the benefits of a long-term relationship for yacht chefs.
What is a superyacht provisioner?
The historic role of a provisioning company was to source, prepare and deliver food and drink supplies to yachts. However, in an industry that constantly demands bigger and better, provisioning companies are continuously evolving to satisfy the ever-changing requirements of their clients.
This means the range of products, services and expertise offered by the modern-day provisioning company is constantly expanding to keep up with the demands of the industry.
“Today, yacht provisioning is so much more,” Elisabetta states. “We truly aim to be a partner of the captains, chefs and chief stews on board the yachts, anticipating their needs while they are out at sea.
“The offer of provisioning companies today is extensive – we can help with many other services and items which go far beyond just food and drinks. It can be flowers, interior décor, helping with finding local specialists or anything else that those on board need help with. Provisioning companies have evolved greatly to become a concierge service instead of a simple order/delivery provider.”
Why are provisioners important?
With businesses constantly adapting to improve their service offerings, it’s not hard to understand how or why provisioners have become so important to chefs: They will pull out all the stops to source exactly what’s needed, whenever it’s needed – and that makes them a crucial ingredient in the day-to-day running of life on board.
Elisabetta continued, “Provisioning companies are crucial for the chef, because they need to rely on someone to supply the best products, which will allow them to offer the experience that their clients are expecting. Provisioners need to support the chefs and the crew 100 per cent, by working as part of their team. A provisioning company should reduce all the stress that can arise on board to allow the crew to focus on their jobs.”
Each provisioning company is unique
Whilst provisioning companies have the luxury of knowing there will always be a demand for their services in the yachting industry, the obvious consequence is that it’s a highly competitive market, with local provisioners often competing with global suppliers.
As a result, provisioning companies are constantly striving to offer added value to their services, providing great choice for superyacht chefs. This can manifest itself in many different ways depending on a number of factors, including location, product specialities and business size.
One may offer local knowledge and on the ground representatives, for example, while another could provide the more competitive prices associated with larger businesses.
Most provisioning companies will endeavour to source niche products and deliver a first-class customer service, so identifying a provisioner should not be based on these criteria alone. In fact, the most important thing for a yacht chef to consider is whether a provisioner will suit the unique way in which they work.
This will usually only be apparent after an enquiry has been lodged, so chefs need to make the most of the opportunity to ask questions and ascertain whether the provisioner is able to meet their specific needs.
The key to a cohesive relationship with your provisioner
There’s nothing worse for a chef than to be let down at the last minute, so the key to a harmonious and successful long-term relationship between chefs and provisioners centres on trust and open lines of communication.
To achieve this, provisioning companies invest considerable contact time with their clients to ascertain their needs and preferences. The knowledge they garner ensures that they are fully equipped to deal with sudden or particularly unusual orders, which, in turn, gives confidence to the client that they will experience a high-quality service.
Maison del Gusto, for example, adopts its own identity-card system, and assigns one to every chef it serves. The identity card includes a full list of notes and preferences, which reduces the chances of important information being overlooked during an order.
“Provisioners need to support the chefs and the crew by working as part of their team; a provisioning company must reduce the stress and anticipate crew needs to let everyone get on with their job,” Elisabetta notes.
“We aim to be the sight, taste, smell and touch of our chefs, and this can only be accomplished through long-standing relationships and communication. We get to know them and do our best to anticipate their needs – whenever and wherever they need them.”
Superyacht provisioning tips
Simply put, sourcing a good provisioner is vital to the day-to-day operation of any successful superyacht; the relationship can make or break a season.
Identifying a provisioner that you ‘click’ with gives you the best possible chance of enjoying a happy and successful relationship – with the provisioner and with those discerning guests on board!
As with any industry, it’s a good idea to utilise your network of contacts when researching a provisioner to work with; the chances are someone you know has been in your position and has experienced, for better or worse, which companies are reliable and which ones aren’t. It means you can either learn from their mistakes or follow in their footsteps, depending on what they say.
Online reviews also go a way to help identifying those provisioners with a proven track record, and those without.
Elisabetta’s advice is to seek these three traits in your chosen provisioning company to be sure you’re going to be well looked after:
1. Professionalism – to ensure reliability and punctuality
2. Safety and procedures – to guarantee the cold chain and traceability for fresh/frozen products for all deliveries across Europe
3. Transparency – to ensure financial and operational trust