Real stories and experiences from Superyacht Chefs

Diary of Superyacht Chef – Jean Turley

Diary of a yacht chef is a series of stories that details exactly what its like to be in the industry as a yacht chef – from seeking work, first jobs, experiences and their feelings.  Every story is different, and every story teller has something to share that may change the way you approach the yachting industry, including what to do and what not to do.  Where they have made their mistakes and hopefully share with you how to avoid them.

Most of the stories are from students who studies at the Superyacht Culinary Academy in Cape Town. Many share how their training at the academy assisted them in their positions, what they learned and what they perhaps lacked going into the industry.

If you have a story to tell, share it with us, and we’ll publish it.

We’re always willing to share information so that others can benefit from your experiences.

My journey to pursue the life of my dreams really only started 14 months ago, after I decided that a life as a medical rep was not a career I wanted to carry on doing for eternity. I became a mother at the age of 21 and was forced to give up my dream of working on yachts, which was my first choice, but was something I sadly would not realise under the circumstances.  I settled down as a surgical sales rep in the medical industry and made the most of it, excelling in my work and achieved a number of milestones as a top achiever in the industry.  But my heart was not in it. I never felt fulfilled and always had a feeling that I was missing my true calling. I worked with a heavy heart.

When my son matriculated in 2018 and I kept on at him to pursue a career in yachting, but he kept saying it was my dream, not his. I was trying to drive the career opportunity I missed though him, and started researching courses for him to become a deckhand, and in 2019 I finally convinced him to a start his training.

It still didn’t change the way I felt about what I was doing, and what I was missing.  I still had the intense burning desire to get into the yachting life.

After many sleepless nights and constant internal battles, I quit the medical industry and booked all my STCW courses. I knew that I had the potential to become a stewardess, and I was happy with the concept of cleaning toilets, doing linen while travelling the world. I was desperate to escape corporate life, the stresses of living in South Africa and craved change. Little did I know that doing the stewardess course would change my life forever. The thought of leaving the life I had known and going into the unknown at my age (I was 41 years old) scared the hell out of me. It was too late – I had started my path and I was heading down that road. What was I thinking?

I completed all the standard courses and one of the last courses I needed to do was the Food Hygiene level 2 course, which I signed up for through the Superyacht Culinary Academy. I woke up super early on that Saturday morning and travelled the hour distance from my home to the school as I didn’t want to be late. I arrived 30 minutes early and was greeted by Brett and the lovely Brenda who immediately made me feel welcome. They were busy cooking up a storm in the training kitchen (it was only 8:30am) and I watched and listened intently as they spoke about their lives as trainers and what the Superyacht Culinary Academy was all about.

While chatting to them through the duration of the Food Safety course, something clicked, and by the time I left the Academy that afternoon, I new what my purpose was – to become a yacht chef.