Simon Ben Jones earned a Michelin star before joining the yachting scene aboard a 50-meter Feadship motoryacht.
Chef, 214-foot Feadship motoryacht Trident
Date interviewed: December 2009
The luncheon you just put on was spectacular, from the iced gazpacho to the warm banana and sticky toffee pudding. The skills that earned you a Michelin star really show. You could get lots of great chef jobs ashore. Why join a charter yacht crew?
I’d been working in gloomy little kitchens for 13 years. In 2007, I decided I wanted to go and see pretty places.
Had you traveled before?
My dad was in the U.K. Air Force, so I was used to traveling with my family. We had a neighbor who was a chef for the Army, and he said it was a good job, so I started to focus on cooking more than traveling.
Were you trained at a culinary school?
I was 16 when I enrolled in culinary school in England. It was a three-year profile, and I did two years. I took the exams after two years of work.
The restaurants on your resume are impressive because of their quality as well as their variation. You’ve been everything from a sous chef in Beverly Hills to a head chef in London. How did you discover boats?
I was the head chef at L’Escargot Restaurant in the SoHo section of London when the owners of the 50-meter Feadship Odessa came in to eat. They hired me out of the restaurant, and I stayed aboard as Odessa’s head chef from November 2007 until June 2009, when I joined Trident.
How did being a yacht chef compare with working in fine restaurants?
I like cooking for charter guests in particular, because you get to do something different. It makes the work go faster and easier. I like a challenge. For instance, we once had guests who wanted snails in the middle of nowhere in the Bahamas. Now that’s a challenge.
Do you have specialties?
I’m trained in classic French style, but a lot of people prefer healthier foods now, so I do a lot of that. Where I can, I like to use local products. It is ideal to use fresh, seasonal products. When the local products are not ideal, I work around them. The lamb we served at lunch today in Antigua, for example, was flown in from Wales.
And I am really into desserts. I put myself in the pastry line at L’Escargot for a year so that I could learn. I do soufflés and homemade ice creams.
So would you say that it is the quality of food, as well as its style and presentation, that sets you and Trident apart from other charter yachts?
I would. You can expect the finest products on this boat, done well. I won’t mess around for hours. A good product speaks for itself.
Trident is managed by Feadship Charter Division. She takes 12 guests with 14 crew at a lowest weekly base rate of $450,000 in the Caribbean and €415,000 in the Mediterranean. Any reputable charter broker can tell you more or help you book a week onboard.