Yacht chefs’ preferences in the layout, equipment, and space of a galley are as varied as the cuisines they create.
Just like a dream dish differs for each guest, a dream galley differs for each chef. Undertaking the task of designing a galley for a superyacht during refit is not a simple task, but making sure it fits the needs of all future chefs who will work in it makes it even more complex.
To build a galley that can feed a large crew as well as guests, the design process must be precise, according to Chef Danny Davies. “A mistake could cost thousands and set back refits and new builds,” he stated. “The mantra of gallery refits or new builds is: ‘Attention to detail.’”
While a superyacht designer might be highly qualified and experienced in galley refits, including a chef in the designing process is always advantageous. Their familiarity with a galley and the knowledge of changes needed to create an improved working space make chefs valuable consultants, according to Chef Andrew Lichaa.
“The chef that is going to be working there has a better understanding of how a kitchen/galley should be ran and set up,” Lichaa said. “If you’ve got a solid chef on board with a great understanding of formatting, that would save the boat money too.”
With a chef’s help during the refit process, a new galley designed to fit the needs of the current chef has a better chance of also being the dream galley of future chefs down the line.
Triton asked three veteran yacht chefs to tell us what they think a dream galley should include. Here’s what they had to say.
Chef Helgi Olafson
For Chef Helgi Olafson, who currently works on the 105-foot (32m) CMN catamaran S/Y Bella Vita, a dream galley starts with the layout. Olafson worked in restaurants before transitioning to yachting, and he believes the best galleys are ones that are situated similarly to restaurant kitchens, just in a compact form.
“I think a lot of galleys are kind of just there to look good, and they don’t serve as much of a purpose as they should,” he said.
Olafson said one main mistake that contributes to a poor-performing, yet sharp-looking galley tracks back to the blueprints: If the galley has rounded corners, then the space it’s created in shouldn’t be square, and vice versa.
“If you have a square space, it should definitely stay square, meaning 90-degree angles,” Olafson said. “Then all the equipment should be square, you shouldn’t get a whole bunch of circular things — obviously, you have to have sauté pans, but the storage for the sheet pans and different equipment like that.”
A must-have for Olafson’s dream galley is a spigot that comes out of the wall behind the stove, allowing pots to be refilled with water while on the stove top. “A lot of the times you’ll be walking across the floor to the sink on the other side of the room from where the stove is, and it’s just easier to have that fill station coming right out of the wall,” he said.
A chamber vacuum sealer and an immersion circulator system are also must-haves for Olafson, as he thinks sous vide is the best way to cook around a guest’s schedule. “You have to be able to make sure that the quality of the food doesn’t deteriorate if you have to wait to serve it,” Olafson said. “In order to do that, sous vide is a very effective method.”
Must-haves for Chef Olafson
- the Control Freak by Breville
- KitchenAid Stand Mixer
- All-Clad Pans
Chef Patricia Clark
Chef Patricia Clark loves to bake, so a preference for two ovens is key to her dream galley. Clark, who has worked on more than 20 yachts since 2012, said she often finds two ovens in galleys, but one of them is usually a steam oven, which she doesn’t find useful.
“I’d rather have a second normal oven because steam is really easy to create,” she said. “I find on yachts, in general, having not only the skills to make all kinds of baked goods, but [also] two ovens to produce as much as needed is far more important than steam ovens.”
Clark also favors two-compartment sinks, but said her overall attitude toward a dream galley is “less is more.” Although she knows machines could make things easier for her, she likes to do things by hand.
Hence, along with adequate refrigeration and freezer space, she would like countertops that give her more space. “Swing up countertops that lay flat when you don’t need them, but pop up when you do for plating,” Clark explained.
Because some yachts have air-conditioning vents directed straight at the only available plating area, making plates go cold quickly, a system to keep dishes hot would also be ideal for Clark. “I once saw a very useful heat lamp situation that reticulated, so it would swing out along the counter or tucked back in underneath a counter space, and I just loved that feature,” she said.
One thing that is absolutely required before Clark will even step foot in a galley is a Thermomix. She would also like to have a dry-space pantry, which would house a Swiffer and handheld vacuum separate from the ones the stews use.
“They think anything that gets trapped into their vacuum will make the boat smell, so I find it’s just so much better to get a little handheld vac and Swiffer,” she said.
The smallest, but most unique, must-have item for Clark’s dream galley is a hook in that same dry-space pantry on which to hang her fleece. “No matter where you are, it’s kind of cold before the ovens get going,” she explained. “I start with a fleece over my chef’s jacket, but by 7, certainly by 8, it’s way too hot to wear that.”
Must-haves for Chef Clark:
- Gaylord Exhaust Hood
- Anova Sous Vide/Thermo Circulator and Vacuum Sealer
- Jura Coffee Machine
Chef Andrew Lichaa
When Chef Andrew Lichaa once oversaw the refit of a 164-foot (50m) Feadship, he recommended the addition of an island to the galley. “A nice broad island is always helpful, as far as plating goes and just space to have your prep done,” he said. “Counter-space is crucial.”
Lichaa, who currently works as a freelance chef, prefers heat lamps to improve food service and two different ovens — specifically, a Rational oven. “You can do everything from steam, to bake, to sous vide,” he said of the brand. “They just have such a wide range of uses that makes them ideal.”
Also ideal: ice machines and, if there’s space, a walk-in fridge.
On smaller sized boats, Lichaa said, he sometimes runs into the issue of sharing dishwasher or sink space with stews. He prefers separate, free space so they’re not constantly crossing each other’s paths.
Must-haves for Chef Lichaa:
- Vitamix and Thermomix
- Brod & Taylor Sahara Folding Dehydrator