The Staggering Number Of Hours Yacht Chefs Really Work

Being a chef and making a career in a kitchen is a notoriously tough job: it is chaotic and stressful, fast-paced, requires grueling hours, and involves regular usage of sharp knives and manipulation of boiling water and roaring flames. The popular Hulu show "The Bear" depicts the high tension and high stakes of working in a kitchen, whether it's haute-cuisine with a Michelin star or in a Chicago beef shop — and some chefs have called the fictional portrayal "too real."

At the end of a shift, however, most chefs have the ability to pack up and go home, and leave their work at work. Not so for yacht chefs, and especially not for superyacht chefs. Superyacht chefs, according to Dockwalk, have to prepare food for virtually everyone alive on board: the crew, the charter guests, and the vessel owners. Since the clientele are super wealthy, there is no slacking either. Expectations are tremendous and the chefs must deliver high-quality meals on demand. The result? Brutal working hours.

The intense 100-hour work weeks of yacht chefs

New Zealand chef Rachel Cunningham is self-trained — restaurant experience is not a prerequisite for yacht cooking — and has worked as a chef on yachts, traveling the world. She stated to Food and Wine, "I've worked on busy yachts where it was not uncommon to work 16 hour days 7 days a week while on charter. It's easier to do when you are younger, but it's not sustainable and many yacht crew burn out working like that." Work days on a yacht are akin to working in a hotel with early 6 a.m. starts for prep time, and can stretch into the wee hours of the morning in response to late-partying guest cravings.

However, if the guests are partying to an extreme, yacht chefs may catch a break. The New Yorker's deep dive on "The Haves and the Have-Yachts" reports that on some yachts certain guests do "so much cocaine that they had no appetite for a chef's meals," which just may reduce the 100-hour workweek.