From shipping live sheep to Latvia, to fresh strawberries carried by helicopter, a superyacht provisioning company needs to be highly prepared and organised to accommodate a wide range of specialist requests.
Yachting Pages recently interviewed Gabi and Helen from one of the French Riviera’s leading provisioning companies, Gourmet Deliveries, to get the inside scoop on servicing the superyacht industry.
How was Gourmet Deliveries founded?
Gabi: Our business was founded in 1997. Angelique, one of the co-founders of Gourmet Deliveries, had a fruit and vegetable store and she used to deliver a lot of the goods to the yachts and each time they kept on asking for more and more produce from her. I was provisioning meat when we met, then we decided to work together and started out the business Gourmet Deliveries and that’s how our company was created.
What makes you different from your competitors?
Gabi: I would say that what makes Gourmet Deliveries different to other yacht suppliers are our fruits and vegetables. You have to remember that we are a third generation fruit and vegetable provisioner. Angelique’s husband, his parents and grandparents were all in the business, so they know every fruit and veg producer in the area. For example, fish and meat we get from suppliers, but fruit and vegetables we source it all ourselves, we don’t subcontract with anybody. Our guys are at the market from 10:00pm, working all through the night. They buy directly from the producers as the latter come into the wholesale market and bring their produce.
Also, we do not hold stock, so we buy to order, which helps us ensure the premium quality of our fruit and vegetables. The quality of our fruit and vegetables is, indeed, exceptional and you cannot find similar produce anywhere else, not even on the local markets in France. Even if you work with other provisioners, who buy from the wholesale market, you won’t get fruits and vegetables of such quality, because they don’t have the same relationships with the producers as we do. We also have a warehouse in Paris and work directly with Paris producers as well.
What are the biggest challenges that you face in the superyacht industry at the moment?
Gabi and Helen: It would probably be the competition. We have to make ourselves better, that’s the hardest challenge. We have to make sure that our produce and service is better than anybody else’s.
Another big challenge in our industry is the time constraints, because we often get very little time to prepare very big orders, so we have to be very, very organised.
Are you working on any new developments at the moment?
Gabi and Helen: As for our new developments, we have tender service in the Mediterranean this year. We have also developed the export side of the business: we deliver a lot to the Seychelles, Maldives, Caribbean and the rest of the world. We’ve been doing it for years, but we’ve really developed this side of the business over the past two years, so we’re busy all year round now.
What are your top tips in your industry?
Our top tip would be to the chefs mostly, but also to the chief stewardesses: When ordering yacht food, make sure to give concise orders and detail. We suggest that they give as much detail as possible when ordering and to be very precise as to exactly what they want.
What are the trends in your sector at the moment?
Gabi and Helen: Both molecular cuisine and gluten-free products are quite popular at the moment. Lately gluten-free has become massive; clients want fresh gluten-free bread and similar products. Organic food is also very popular among yachting clients.
Are the demands of chefs and stewardesses outrageous sometimes?
Helen: We don’t think so; they are under a lot of pressure. The chefs are under pressure, so at times they have to put us under pressure. On the whole, they are all very professional and very nice.
How far in advance do they need to order?
Helen: Oh, we turn around very quickly. An order came through last night at 11:00pm and we had to have it delivered at 8:00am the next morning, which is fine except on a Sunday, when there are no shops open and Mary Poppins isn’t around.
Have you ever received any bizarre yacht provisioning requests?
Helen: That would have to be the time when we had to send a live sheep to Latvia.
Were you able to fulfill the order?
Helen: Yes, of course!
Gabi: Sometimes clients want things very suddenly, so we have to hire a helicopter to get it to them. The other day we sent a van to Greece from France just to deliver three trays of wild strawberries.
We heard that you supply food prepared by Michelin-starred chefs to your yachting clients. Is this true?
Gabi: We do, indeed. For example, all of our bread rolls are made by two-star Michelin chefs. We also have frozen stocks made by Michelin-starred chefs, which are very popular with our clients. We even had to stock up, because we sell so much of these.
Are you attending any upcoming boat shows?
Gabi and Helen: Yes, we go to most of the yacht shows, but we don’t necessarily have a stand at all of them.
In fact, we have an exciting event coming up, Cogs for Cancer, which is a charity bike ride that will be held from 4th to 10th October. Last year this event was an absolute success. This year, we will have 17 cyclists go from Ancona to Antibes to raise money for cancer research. We support the boys all the way through: we book their hotels, take care of their diet and even cook for them. We look after the boys (the cyclists) to make it easier for them. [As last year, Steve Crowe, MD of Yachting Pages is taking part in Cogs for Cancer.]
We’re also supporting a local cancer support group as well as the UK Cancer research. So far the fundraising has been going brilliantly; we have already raised 144,000 euros. On the 27th September there will be a big gala dinner and, hopefully, an auction to raise as much money as we can. On Friday 10th October, there will be a welcome party for the Cogs for Cancer cyclists sponsored by Gourmet Deliveries.
For more information, visit Gourmet Deliveries.