Tired of your day-to-day chef job at a local restaurant? Do you feel like your skills do not get the environment to flourish? Then how about considering working on a yacht or a superyacht as a chef? If you have a keen eye for detail and a knack for flavour profiles and presentation, then working on a superyacht could be your calling. This article will show how you can become a chef on a yacht or a superyacht in South Africa.

Becoming a Chef on a Yacht in South Africa

As you are aware, South Africa rarely gets a superyacht visit. However, as a popular tourist destination, there are plenty of yachts waiting to hire you. You can use the South African yacht scene to build up your experience as a chef and start aiming for the international superyacht scene.

This role is ideal for chefs with a certain degree of experience in the culinary industry. Aspiring chefs may stand a chance in the industry. However, without proper background experience, it may prove tremendously difficult for you to maintain your career.

Many yachts hire a sole chef—a chef without any assistance. As you must have guessed, they prefer an experienced chef to manage the kitchen onboard.

Regardless, the marine industry does welcome aspiring chefs as well, given you have what it takes.

Before you begin working as a cook, however, you will have to fulfil certain requirements.

How to Become a Yacht Chef in South Africa?

For all seagoing workers, there is a standard procedure that everyone has to follow. The procedure calls for obtaining certain basic qualifications as per the STCW International Convention.

As a yacht-going seafarer, you should fulfil the following prerequisites.

Once you have these modules, you can move on to the next phase.

Your next priority would be to get a MCA Food Hygiene Level 2 Certificate in South Africa. This is a mandatory requirement for all kitchen staff on yachts and other vessels. There are plenty of institutes offering this course online. However, note that to work on a yacht/superyacht, you must take the in-class course as the online certificate is considered invalid.

Apart from that, an RYA Powerboat Level 2 license would come in handy if you are required to drive a tender. We highly recommend getting this license before you start applying.

An Outline of Chef’s Responsibility on a Yacht

The main responsibility of a chef is to run a ‘galley’ (ship kitchen) on a ship. This includes food prep, hygiene, stocking and managing provisions, implementing safety measures, and managing food waste.

In a larger crew, you may work in a team of chefs, which allows for better learning. However, most yachts are small and consider hiring a sole chef. As a sole chef, your responsibilities are mountainous, requiring you to work up to 18 hours on a peak day.

  • Menu planning including specific guest preferences;
  • Fine Dining and Food Presentation;
  • Coordination with the interior crew (stewardesses) for theme management and servings;
  • Food budgeting, handling provision inventory;
  • Managing other miscellaneous inventory, such as plates, cups, and other utensils;
  • Managing inventory regarding wine and other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages;

and more.


Working as a chef on yachts in South Africa will often require you to work alone. Veterans of this industry highly recommend having some restaurant chef-related background before considering yacht chef as a career option. The yacht chef does not tend to chef duties every day. But during peak days, the kitchen becomes a fast-paced environment; certainly not a suitable environment for a newcomer.

Once you carefully consider your options per your experience, you may choose to get the ENG1 medical certificate and STCW certificate to kickstart your journey in the marine industry. And don’t forget the MCA Food Hygiene Level 2 certification as well. For more information, feel free to connect with us.