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Chef Hillary Chell


“I have selected three of my favourite dishes to include: Arroncini, a favourite starter when in Italy; wild trout with fresh spring peas; and lemon posset with French Madeleine. Spring is my favourite time of year to be a chef as it's when all the exciting ingredients start to appear and wild trout is a deliciously delicate flavoured fish which works beautifully with the mint. For my desserts, I like to use Menton lemons where possible. Every year they have a huge festival to celebrate their citrus fruits, and this is a super simple dessert that's always a winner!”

OSY: What are some of the dietary request challenges you most enjoy taking on?

HC: I actually enjoy dietary requirements, they give you a new way of thinking about food, what to use instead of what, what might work as a substitute and why.

Before I became a yacht chef I spent three years studying catering at culinary college and gained a diploma in hospitality and catering management. I then went on to work in some of the top hotels and restaurants both in the UK and USA. While working, I gained a great knowledge and passion for both food and wine.

I discovered the yachting industry six years ago and I thoroughly enjoy the combination of cooking with the finest fresh ingredients, giving a personalized service to each group of guests and being surrounded by the beautiful sights of the Mediterranean.

I love cruising in the south of France, it's just so organized and set up for the industry. The markets and fish mongers are not only fantastic but open really early so we can provision with fresh goods and still set off before the guests get up if that’s what they want to do.

If I was a guest it would be water skiing but as I’m a chef it’s making afternoon tea! I'm always a little envious when the skis come out. A piece of advice for guests is to think about what it is exactly you want from your holiday and don’t try to cram too much into a short time. It should be a relaxing time as well as traveling; you want to enjoy each place you go to instead of getting there as it is turning dark and leaving before the sun comes up!

Some of the unique challenges of working in a galley include keeping pans on the stove at 30 knots, decorating cakes at 30 knots, everything constantly on the move, being prepared to drop everything at a moments notice and move anchorage or drive the tender, we are only three crew so we do the deck work too.

OSY: What's the most unusual request you've ever had as a private chef?

HC: Scrambled quail egg whites for breakfast and warm gazpacho. Not too unusual but just wrong!

OSY: What are your thoughts on cooking guest-caught seafood?

HC: I’d rather not! Seafood can be tricky if you don't know what you are fishing for, let’s leave it to the professionals.

OSY: Is there one brilliant quote you've heard from guests that you'd like to share?

HC: All guests say 'you're so lucky' when they're the ones on holiday on a superyacht and I'm about to go and wash up some pans.

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