Magazine Feature

Secrets of a Luxury Yacht Chef: Why Making Meals for A-Listers Mid-Ocean Is No Cakewalk

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As a private-yacht chef, Tom Voigt, who is based in Spain and formerly worked as a private chef for Carlos Santana and Backstreet Boys, is tasked with creating a four-star-restaurant experience for passengers.

Courtesy of Tom Voigt

The consistent challenge, he says, is coordinating supplies and ingredients. Before taking off, he'll source markets and suppliers local to the destinations the ship will be visiting. Vendors often will travel to meet the ship on a water taxi or, in extreme conditions, by helicopter. "The best thing is when you have time on your own with a taxi to go to a local market, choose the best pieces and send them to the boats and make sure they're coming in the best condition," he says.

Courtesy of Tom Voigt
Voigt’s typical sea fare: tomato garden with ricotta cheese and Cantabrian anchovies.

The chef's favorite meals at sea include simple fish and dishes like terrines, ballotines (a stuffed poultry thigh) and galantines (a meat presentation similar to a roulade). Rough waters can make delivery and presentation a logistical nightmare, though. "Seawater blowing over the fresh berries!" says Voigt. "Those things happen."

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But his greatest test is creating a flawless experience as a one-man team. "You're all alone, doing your shopping, your menu creating, your cleaning, your invoicing. People don't realize!" Meals for 12 passengers chartering through Europe for a week will run about $7,000, and another $6,000 for fine wine and champagne.

This article originally appeared in the June 4 issue of Billboard.