A complete crew guide to yacht provisioning
Last updated: 30/04/2018
Provisioning, preparing and serving food and drink on board a superyacht can require a lot of research, expertise and thought. Guests and owners on board will often have unlimited expectations when it comes to what they want and when they want it. Whether you’re a chef ordering supplies, want to find out some tips on serving guests during a charter, or looking for information on provisioning companies, you are in the right place.
Top tips for superyacht chefs
Gourmet Deliveries, a leading yacht supplies company in the French Riviera, provided some top tips for yacht chefs, giving advice on how to go the extra mile for guests and get noticed.1. Use guests for valuable information
Be attentive to their demands and preferences and treat it as gospel. Whether the wife likes her fruits blended or stewed, whether the children like their cookies soft or crumbly and whether the father prefers farfalle to penne; these are all cooking nuances to be duly noted and affected in the food.2. The children are as important as the adults
Some of the greatest critics will be children. Being notoriously difficult to please, if you manage to satisfy their taste buds you will find a way to their hearts and their parents’ hearts. As kids’ meals are often selected by parents, why not organise a night devoted to what the kids want to eat (with parents’ approval, of course).3. A happier crew is a happier yacht charter experience for all
One way to keep the rest of the crew happy is by providing meals from their home country. Imagine the joy a British crewmember will feel when confronted by a classic roast dinner, or how an American may enjoy a burger. Such a gesture will not go unnoticed and you will score points with those who surround you every day.4. Cater the same quality and choice to guests with intolerances and allergies
A great chef will bring everyone together; a bad chef will exclude people. Try to adapt your charter menu to those with dietary restrictions, at least partially. Obviously, adapting the entire menu may be too big a task, but if you provide an option to gluten intolerant, diabetic, or guests with other restrictions, they will be grateful to you.5. Extra touches make an extra good chef
Asking the guests if they enjoyed their meal is a small gesture with big implications. Providing special-made chocolate in gift bags or offering a cold glass of wine on a hot day can make the difference on a yacht charter holiday.
6. Celebrate holidays
Make sure you are aware of religious festivals, national holidays and the guests’ personal celebrations and prepare something special for the occasion. Guests will surely be appreciative of such a treat.7. A yacht charter holiday is for privacy
Offer to keep the guests fed in private with breakfast in bed, some fancy appetizers or midnight snacks so they don’t feel the need to travel to the kitchen or common areas for food.8. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
Good planning is important and can help ensure a balanced and varied diet for your guests - a surefire way to please any health and sport enthusiasts on board. Make sure that the yacht charter agency had every guest fill out a preference sheet and if one of those sheets has arrived incomplete, ask the agency to follow it up.9. Be adaptable
So you put together a perfect menu for the entire duration of the yachting holidays and stocked up on all the necessary ingredients, but then all of a sudden the guests want to try the local delicacies and opt out of the original menu. The best thing to do is to adapt. Flexibility is an important virtue in the greatest chefs.10. Be prepared for the unexpected
Be prepared to cater for challenging/unexpected wishes guests may have. Chefs often find themselves cruising in remote locations and often yacht guests unexpectedly want food that not only do chefs not have in stock, but is hard to source in the area. To avoid failing the guest, find a yacht provisioning agent either in the area or that delivers food worldwide. See below for more information on yacht provisioning companies.
What to expect from a quality yacht provisioning company
Provisioning companies not only source fish, meats, cheeses, alcohol & beverages; they also offer tobacco & cigars, cleaning products & toiletries and sometimes general boat provisions. They work with established suppliers and wholesalers to ensure the quality of each item. So what should a chef look for in a provisioning company? Some companies have yachting backgrounds and are very used to the demands of yachts and their clients; this is bonus when sourcing a provisioner.
David from Spirit Services, a specialist in superyacht provisions said, “Providing provisions to the world of yachting is all about the right quality at the correct value, being reactive to any demand at any time, respecting the client, captain, chef or chief steward(ess) and providing them with the ’services‘ they need to run their operation as efficiently as possible.”
Every order is bespoke prepared to your specifications and delivered direct, to your berth or management company.
Examples of last-minute superyacht supplies
David explained, “The latest unusual request I dealt with was to source an exclusive Old Rum with very limited production per vintage that was no longer commercialised in the market, and so I had to get in touch with the owner of the rum factory and convince him to bottle 24 decanters of a specific vintage to please my client.”
David from Ibiza Delivers shared a story about a lengths a provisioner should go to, “Being an island in the Mediterranean, logistics and transport are often a challenge for us due to the fast turnaround times involved. We were servicing a 65m fast, displacement yacht, which had some US Hip Hop celebrities coming on board for a charter. We received the provisions order late on a Friday night and the clients were arriving on Monday morning.
“They had ordered lots of American products, bagels, turkey, ham, American sliced cheese, none of which could be sourced in Ibiza and seeing as it was the weekend it would be particularly difficult to get our hands on it. However, using our extended network on the island, we were able to identify a client of ours who was returning to Ibiza [from the UK] on their private jet. Our colleague in London sourced the products and delivered them to [our contact at] Farnborough airfield and all were delivered on time to the client on Monday morning.
Ben’s Yacht Services in St Lucia had a very unique situation with an unexpected request from the captain of a 57m M/Y; they had an urgent request for a truck battery for the yacht late into the night when all the shops were closed. The yacht was due to leave the following morning and would have interrupted their charter schedule if they could not leave on time. They managed to source the battery and delivered it to the yacht on a speedboat within two hours. The captain has since written to them to say, 'It was probably the finest and most impressive bit of agency work that I have seen in my long career; you can be very proud!'
Choosing a flexible provisioning company for your needs
You can see that choosing a provisioning company with great contacts and dedicated staff means that anything is possible.
Lucy from Turnaround, Seillans, France had set off from Seillians to Cannes with a delivery when she received a call from the captain. The guests had decided that they were bored with Cannes and were off to Porto Fino. She drove there, arriving at midnight and the captain drove the tender to her himself; full of apologies and of course very grateful.
Great provisioning companies save the day again.