Hannah Rose & Daisy Webster Photo: Charlotte Thomas
Hannah Rose & Daisy Webster Photo: Charlotte Thomas
Daisy Webster and Hannah Rose
With infectious enthusiasm and boundless, bounce-off-each-other energy, the head chef and sous chef on the 90-metre yacht Phoenix 2 are a shining beacon of invention, ambition, passion and achievement in the yacht industry.
There’s something deeply satisfying about receiving a small superyacht-branded presentation box of chocolates and knowing that they have been made on board by the sous chef. That the sous chef in question is 23 years old, and that the yacht is the mighty 90-metre, art deco-themed Phoenix 2, is simply staggering. Hannah Rose may be relatively young in years but her skills as a chef and chocolatier are exquisite.
She is in good company, as it turns out. The yacht’s head chef is Daisy Webster, a firecracker of energy and ideas and – at just 27 years old – another incredibly accomplished chef. The two of them finish each other’s sentences, and the crackle of energy between them is striking. They haven’t been working together for very long, but it seems like destiny may have had a hand in bringing them together, and the guests who get to enjoy the fruits of their collaboration are in for a real treat. They are also a bright-burning torch for the possibilities in yachting, where attitude and passion will get you to the top – even at 27 and 23.
For Webster, her culinary journey started auspiciously with an apprenticeship at the Ramsay Group and a job at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, followed by a spell at the two-starred Chinese restaurant A. Wong. “Then I opened a chicken wing restaurant called Wingmans – there are five of them now,” she says, somewhat unexpectedly. “I really love fried chicken.”
Webster’s break into yachting came via her best friend from school. “She always seemed to be lying on a beach in the Caribbean, and I asked her what she was doing for a job and how she was getting away with this,” she smiles. “She was a stewardess on a superyacht and she said yachts were always looking for chefs. So I booked my courses, flew to Antibes, and then flew to Miami two weeks later.” She was on board Phoenix 2 for a year before making head chef late in 2022. Her previous yachts stood her in good stead – she worked on the 95.2-metre Kismet and the giant explorer Ulysses before Phoenix 2.
Rose started out in restaurants at 16 and worked her way up to the one-star The Black Swan and then the two-star Ynyshir before her fiancé decided one day he wanted to work on yachts. “I had no idea what that was or what it meant,” she says. “Working in a two-star gives you such drive – I always thought I wanted my own restaurant. But he said, come do it. He went away and did yachting for four months and absolutely loved it and said I had to come. So I did, and haven’t looked back since!” It led her to a couple of years on an 85-metre yacht before joining Phoenix 2 in the Autumn of 2022.
The dynamism between the two is clear, and it’s almost sibling-like. “We talk until 2am about food,” Webster enthuses. “We get books out, look at Instagram, talk about anywhere we’ve been on holiday, any restaurant we go to. We’re very competitive, although not with each other – just with everyone else, because we want to be the best.”
“Anything we eat, even if it’s a cheese sandwich, we want to make it better,” Rose interjects. “We come from such similar backgrounds but we didn’t know each other before. It’s crazy – we’re like sisters, or family. It takes a certain type of person to work in those restaurants so to come from that – honestly, it’s just bounce, bounce, bounce between us.”
For some chefs, working on a yacht can be a challenge because they are not always totally in control of the menu – they have to cater to the styles and desires of their guests. For Webster and Rose, however, this is part of the appeal of the job. “We get a preference sheet [from the owners or charterers] which is almost like a new challenge,” enthuses Webster. “We love preference sheets.” Adds Rose, “If you really pay attention to the preference sheet and you’re like, ok I’m going to take this challenge – like we love doing with food – and you create a menu that they are going to want to eat, they then let you take the reins. They get to see that side of you too, which is really nice.”
Inspiration comes from the places they travel to with the yacht and on holiday, and draws on local flavours and ingredients but which are often thrown together in scintillating ways. Our long, many-coursed lunch on Phoenix 2 was inspired by Mexican cuisine, but elevated to an exceptional level. “I’ll eat in Mexico, and then it just flows into my head,” says Webster. “It can be very traditional flavour profiles – like celeriac, apple and pork – but then we’ll add salsa roja or pickle the apple, little touches and tweaks to make it more fusion or to bend it to our will.”
For both, yachting has opened up a world of possibilities, but they are now in turn showing what is possible to up-and-coming chefs and crew. It’s all down to the nurturing nature that forms a central plank of the superyacht industry. “I was super grateful that my captain gave me the opportunity to be a head chef so young,” Webster says, “because there were eyebrows and questions raised about whether it would be a good idea – I was 26 at the time. But you’ve just got to take those challenges, prove them wrong, stand up and just do it.”
For Rose, yachting has become a new passion. “I’m loving this – I love the industry, I love the job,” she says. “We have big plans and big things, like the summer ahead and the next couple of years. It’s so exciting and there’s so much opportunity, and I learn something new every day. To be a sous chef on a boat this big is an incredible journey.” Almost, in fact, as incredible a journey as the menus they create for their guests.