A floating restaurant for you and your family
A floating restaurant for you and your family
Craft

A floating restaurant for you and your family

Locally-sourced food, personalised menus and kid-friendly dining make eating on superyachts a joy.

By Dominique Afacan | 1 May 2020

Superyachts might enable travel to some of the best destinations in the world – but beyond the travel itself, there’s another brilliant benefit of these luxury floating holidays: the food. Most superyachts pride themselves on their on-board chefs, who constitute some of the best in the business.

Take Meg Kern, who spent over 15 years working in the restaurant industry before moving onto superyachts. She relishes the freedom that yachts offer when it comes to creating recipes and sourcing ingredients. “Travelling and being able to create dishes with a relatively unlimited budget is a real bonus,” she says. “I don’t spend frivolously, but to be able to buy the best ingredients takes an element of stress away and allows me to be more playful with ideas.”

A floating restaurant for you and your family

Meg Kern

A floating restaurant for you and your family

Meg Kern

Buying the best ingredients is one thing, but too often, the image of superyacht dining to the outside world is one of white tablecloths, non-stop haute cuisine and fine champagne. While there is certainly a time and a place for this sort of experience, the day-to-day reality is often a far more relaxed and barefoot affair, with chefs rustling up the guest’s favourite comfort foods and creating novelty menus for kids. “Meals times on Dunia Baru with the family are typically very relaxed,” says superyacht owner Mark Robba. “Chefs love the on-deck galley because they are really front and centre with our family and guests.”

For Grace Dvornik, a superyacht chef school scholar who is based out of Tampa, locally-sourced food is one of her favourite treats of the trade. “One of my most memorable moments as a superyacht chef was catching a 35-pound wahoo in the Caribbean and serving it to my guests that very day,” she says. Beyond the endless novelty of sourcing fresh fish from local waters, there are also food markets on land to take advantage of. “Chelsea Market and all the markets in New York are truly amazing,” says Kern. “The Mercado de Surquillo in Miraflores, Peru comes to mind too, but it doesn’t need to be a huge market for it to be phenomenal. Tiny local fishmongers like Dory Mate’s Seafood in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia were incredibly memorable; they served the freshest catch and they were the nicest locals.”

A floating restaurant for you and your family

Meal time with the kids on Dunia Baru

A floating restaurant for you and your family

Meal time with the kids on Dunia Baru

Of course, the increasing popularity of remote destinations means that preparation is key. “I have been in destinations where, short of taking a helicopter, the nearest grocery store was on another island, an hour’s boat ride away, followed by a 20-minute taxi ride. It was crucial to make sure I had the yacht well-stocked before the trip because a quick run to the store for a forgotten ingredient was not possible.”

Beyond the challenge of ingredient sourcing is an increasingly health-conscious customer. Often, before a charter trip, guests are sent preference sheets on which they can detail their specific likes and dislikes, as well as any dietary requirements. These requirements, says Dvornik, are on the rise.

A floating restaurant for you and your family

Grace Dvornik

A floating restaurant for you and your family

Grace Dvornik

Stefan Schenk, another superyacht chef, agrees. “Nowadays there isn’t a charter group where people don’t have special diets. It’s very fashionable to be gluten-free or dairy-free. I always see it as a challenge to work with these parameters and still wow the guests with my food. I love to play around with sugar, dairy and gluten-free as well as vegan desserts. Guests are always amazed that something healthy can taste so good.”

Of course, this is the superyacht world, and that means chefs need to be prepared for the unexpected. “Sometimes people will fill out a preference sheet according to strict dietary preferences,” says Dvornik, “then arrive onboard and decide that they no longer want to abide by those preferences because they are on vacation. For this reason, I always keep extra desserts or ice cream stocked for the inevitable cravings!”

A floating restaurant for you and your family

Aboard Dunia Baru

A floating restaurant for you and your family

Aboard Dunia Baru

And that’s just the adults. Plenty of charters have small children on board, and it’s up to the chef to keep them happy. “For picky children, it’s important to really get to know them individually and find out what they like,” says Kern. “If they love mango, I can make a healthy salad focused around that fruit or I can pop it into a frozen yoghurt popsicle.” More often, there are crowd-pleasers that work time and time again. “I’d say my most popular children’s dishes are ricotta-buckwheat pancakes with fresh fruit designed with funny faces, freshly-breaded chicken cutlets oven-baked with a homemade honey-mustard, or a hearty bolognese with salad.”

Dvornik has learnt another trick of the trade when it comes to family charters. “The most hilarious challenge is trying to hide the sweets!” she says. “I once had a group of clever kids organize a candy heist and raid the galley while their parents were still asleep. After that incident, I stored all cookies and candy in a locked cupboard.”

Whether performing midnight sweet raids or enjoying fresh fish plucked straight from the ocean, eating on board a yacht is bound to be a memorable experience for the whole family. And sometimes, it can be just as enjoyable to take on some of the cooking yourself. “My wife will sometimes make me mie goreng just the way I like it for breakfast or lunch,” says Robba. “Simple and delicious every time – it must be made with love.” Bon appetit!

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