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Seasoned Yacht Chefs: From the Galley

Denison Yachting | January 26, 2022



It’s often said that “real” cooking is more about following your heart than following recipes, so FRANK asked five seasoned yacht chefs what makes their hearts sing when cooking onboard and for tips on how to keep charter guests smiling with their stomachs.


Julia M. Vigneault


Yacht Currently Working On:

S/Y BUNDALONG, 78′ Sunreef

YEARS WORKED IN THE YACHTING INDUSTRY

I am fairly new to the industry, with two years of experience. Prior to that, I worked at my own B&B in Costa Rica, which I still own and operate from afar .

FAVORITE CUISINE TO COOK

Fresh produce from the sea. 

BEST INGREDIENT TO WORK WITH

As a freediver and fisherwoman, there’s nothing more exciting to me than bringing aboard food I harvested myself. Being able to offer a reef-to-table experience is what truly makes me happy.

FAVORITE PLACE TO SOURCE FRESH PRODUCE

The sea, and I always try my hardest to find the local farmers and source fresh produce made with love. Microgreens are my current obsession.

SIGNATURE DISH TO SERVE CHARTER GUESTS

Sushi, sushi, sushi.

WHAT NOT TO SERVE CHARTER GUESTS

Hard boiled eggs.

MOST POPULAR FOOD REQUEST

Fresh ceviche.

PROUDEST MEMORY IN THE GALLEY

When Paris Hilton told me that my lasagna was #sliving [Editor’s note: a term coined by Hilton in 2019 to mean “slaying” mixed with “living my best life”.]

TOUGHEST MOMENT IN THE GALLEY

Finding out I am intolerant to dairy. I mourn cheese every day. 

HAPPIEST TIME ABOARD A YACHT

Any day in the Bahamas.

WHERE/WHO TAUGHT YOU THE MOST ABOUT FOOD

My partner is my biggest critic, he also happens to captain the boat, so I try to listen.

FAVORITE FOOD TO EAT

Anything truffle.


Nadine Imfeld


Yacht Currently Working On:

M/Y ANDIAMO, 150’ Palmer Johnson

YEARS WORKED IN THE YACHTING INDUSTRY

Five years.

FAVORITE CUISINE TO COOK

I really enjoy cooking all the cuisines around the world, because I feel with every dish that you make, you get to know the culture as well, and it’s just fascinating. If I had to narrow it down, I would say Mexican and Asian.

BEST INGREDIENT TO WORK WITH

Cacao – it’s such a versatile ingredient. I’m into baking and desserts and cacao is a big ingredient, especially for all of us with a sweet tooth. But then you can go into the savory direction as well where you make cacao chipotle salsa or a balsamic cacao sauce.

FAVORITE PLACE TO SOURCE FRESH PRODUCE

If I have time I really like going to farmers’ markets. It’s truly the best spot to find amazing products and support local farmers. 

SIGNATURE DISH TO SERVE CHARTER GUESTS

I am originally from Switzerland. That means I grew up with a lot of traditional German dishes. We decided to factor that into our charter program with a little beer garden night where we do schnitzels, spaetzle (a type of small noodle or dumpling made with fresh eggs), traditional red cabbage, apple strudel, etc. So far, it’s always been a big hit because it’s not the everyday cuisine you get onboard a motor yacht.

WHAT NOT TO SERVE CHARTER GUESTS

In my opinion, it’s all about the freshness of the food. There’s nothing worse than getting served a nice great-tasting meal with an old, wilted salad on the side. 

MOST POPULAR FOOD REQUEST

Sushi. We always do a big spread with lots of different varieties, alongside other delicious things like Japanese A5 Wagyu beef, dumplings, and edamame.

PROUDEST MEMORY IN THE GALLEY

When I go to see the guests during a meal and see them sitting there, with a big smile, devouring my food and leaving an empty plate behind, that’s when I know I can be proud of myself.

TOUGHEST MOMENT IN THE GALLEY

When I got the call that one of my family members had passed away and it was in the middle of the breakfast rush. Even though things like that hit you like a rock, there is just no time to have a moment to yourself. So, you have to set it aside, and keep pushing through to keep your guests happy.

HAPPIEST TIME ABOARD A YACHT

It was on one of my first boats in yachting. We had a season in New York and it was a crazy busy boat, but we had this one afternoon off in Sag Harbor and the whole crew went to a vineyard. It was the most beautiful place ever with an amazing crew that turned into family. And it was just one of those moments where you sit back, look around and realize you’re truly happy.

WHERE/WHO TAUGHT YOU THE MOST ABOUT FOOD

I learned the most about food at the culinary school I visited in Ireland. Everything was from farm to table, growing their own fruits and vegetables. It’s small things – such as having to get up at 6 am to harvest your own vegetables in the morning for cooking later on that day – that make you appreciate and understand everything way more. 

FAVORITE FOOD TO EAT

I don’t think this page is long enough to add everything I like. I am a true foodie. I love to try new things and eat all day, every day. My favorite food is, and will always be, my mom’s cooking.


Anthony Iracane

Yacht Currently Working on:

M/Y ODIN, 126’ Trinity 

YEARS WORKED IN THE YACHTING INDUSTRY

About two. Before that I owned a restaurant in France in my hometown of Nancy. It was a tapas restaurant and bar. I really like the fact people can sit together and share life moments. I truly think the best memories are found around a delicious dinner with a blend of colors, textures and flavors, and, of course, great wine. 

FAVORITE CUISINE TO COOK

French modern with added inspiration from Mediterranean cuisine. I’m French/Italian so maybe that’s why. And I enjoy working with bright colorful ingredients. I don’t really follow a recipe, I prefer to listen to my heart. I like to say I make my plate as an artist who paints a canvas. I just follow my instincts. 

BEST INGREDIENT TO WORK WITH

Every ingredient is the best to work with if you know how to use it. A good chef can make miracles with nothing. 

FAVORITE PLACE TO SOURCE FRESH PRODUCE

Little markets like those that we have in the south of France. I enjoy the array of colors from different veggies where you can be in contact with the produce.

SIGNATURE DISH TO SERVE CHARTER GUESTS

Steak au Poivre and Crispy Duck Breast with a Black Cherry Sauce. I also love to make multiple course tasting menus and work with smaller portioned plates. 

WHAT NOT TO SERVE CHARTER GUESTS

Frozen and/or pre-made food. Our guests spend a lot of money to have an amazing experience, so every detail makes a difference. 

MOST POPULAR FOOD REQUEST

As soon as guests hear my French accent they immediately want a taste of French cuisine. So, most of the time they ask for traditional French food. 

PROUDEST MEMORY IN THE GALLEY

When all the guests come to congratulate me after dinner. For me, it’s not about cooking, it’s more about creating emotion; my goal is to make people happy. I love working on yachts as every trip/charter is like cooking for my family and friends and I love seeing my loved ones happy, so I always do my best.

TOUGHEST MOMENT IN THE GALLEY

An event where I had a four-course dinner party of 30. I didn’t have a sous chef to assist with plating, so the challenge was making sure all plating looked perfect, while ensuring all courses went out to the guests in a timely manner and cold courses were crisp and hot dishes were steaming. However, at the end of this dinner, I could not have been more pleased with the way everything turned out. Powering through the stress is what makes this job so gratifying in the end.

HAPPIEST TIME ABOARD A YACHT

When I stop what I’m doing for a moment, open my eyes, look around and take in the incredible views outside the galley, and realize how amazing it is to have a career enjoying these incredible experiences. 

WHERE/WHO TAUGHT YOU THE MOST ABOUT FOOD

My love of food came at an early age. When I was a little kid I was always cooking something for my parents. My dad worked all week, so Friday night when he finally got home I was so excited to make him something special. I was very young, so my mum was always making a double dinner, mine and hers, but they played the game. My dad passed away and didn’t get to see where I am now. So, every day, every meal, I try to do my very best to make him proud of me

FAVORITE FOOD TO EAT

Mediterranean. Be happy, eat healthy. Like I say, show me what you eat and I will tell you who you are. 


Elisa Eliot

Yacht Currently Working On:

M/Y PLAN A, 130’ Westport 

YEARS WORKED IN THE YACHTING INDUSTRY

Three years in yachting, with another 40 years cooking for amazing clients, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and his family while running my own large-scale catering business.

FAVORITE CUISINE TO COOK

Asian fusion, French, Italian, and Tex-Mex.

BEST INGREDIENT TO WORK WITH

Garlic. The real kind, with skin on. I like to finish sauces and soups with a little bump of fresh minced garlic. I learned this trick while getting into Asian fusion, but it totally works with every genre of cuisine. 

FAVORITE PLACE TO SOURCE FRESH PRODUCE

Baldor Specialty Foods while up in New England. They offer locally grown produce from various farms in the region. Yacht chefs often need to use provisioners to get that quick one-stop shopping experience. Shoreside Support is also great for high-end specialty items such as caviar and Wagyu beef. 

SIGNATURE DISH TO SERVE CHARTER GUESTS

I like to tell the story behind the dish. Grandma’s Meatballs has gotten me a lot of marriage proposals, of which I accepted three and went through with two. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson loves my Balsamic Seared Beef Tenderloin. Dan Marino and his family are all about my Chicken Milanese, which I let rest on the cutting board that I just minced garlic on.

WHAT NOT TO SERVE CHARTER GUESTS

Anything not discussed with the guests. I like to have a quick menu pow-wow each day with our guests to make sure I’m preparing a menu they will all enjoy. Preference sheets don’t always give me the information that I need. I also say to them, “I’m like a Vitamix food blender, but with better moving parts.”

MOST POPULAR FOOD REQUEST

Salads. Creative and different salads are always a hit. Caesar salad is super popular; I make my own dressing and croutons, use aged Parmesan Reggiano and twist it up with arugula and hearts of palm. 

PROUDEST MEMORY IN THE GALLEY

I’m proud of every moment. It’s not an ego thing because I shed that years ago. It’s just about being present on a yacht and the creation of gorgeous, delicious food.

TOUGHEST MOMENT IN THE GALLEY

It’s always a push through the weeds of the 27 courses that I generally cook each day. But last night, I was behind the power curve and the frustration kicked in. Tears just fell from my face as I cooked my ass off for about 20 minutes. But it turned out delicious, and that’s all that counts. 

HAPPIEST TIME ABOARD A YACHT

Right now! I’m so lucky to have such an awesome chief stew. Yes, owners are great, the captain is wonderful, my bunk bed is big and comfy, but my best times are when I click with the chief stew.

WHERE/WHO TAUGHT YOU THE MOST ABOUT FOOD

My clients, 100%. I was so fortunate to start out as a personal chef. Clients over the years have shared all of their family recipe gems.

FAVORITE FOOD TO EAT

Tacos from Jack in the Box! I don’t live near one now, but I remember them from when I was a kid.


Tyron Hardie

Yacht Currently Working On:

I’m freelance, so move around a lot.

YEARS WORKED IN THE YACHTING INDUSTRY

12.

FAVORITE CUISINE TO COOK

Asian fusion.

BEST INGREDIENT TO WORK WITH

Top-quality microgreens.

FAVORITE PLACE TO SOURCE FRESH PRODUCE

Holland.

SIGNATURE DISH TO SERVE CHARTER GUESTS

I love raw fish dishes, especially the idea of fast curing and ceviche fish with a vibrant sauce or cold, zesty broth. 

WHAT NOT TO SERVE CHARTER GUESTS

It depends on the location, but I think snails are a no-go.

MOST POPULAR FOOD REQUEST

Sushi or Mexican.

PROUDEST MEMORY IN THE GALLEY

Teaming up with a best mate and smashing 11 charters in one season. That was the best, most creative season to date.

TOUGHEST MOMENT IN THE GALLEY

Having to allow another chef (who traveled with the charter guest) into the galley.

HAPPIEST TIME ABOARD A YACHT

The Bahamas charter season, with time off to enjoy spearfishing and fishing.

WHERE/WHO TAUGHT YOU THE MOST ABOUT FOOD

Traveling around the world doing numerous cuisine specific courses.

FAVORITE FOOD TO EAT

Pizza and Asian cuisine.


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