It’s raining. The island excursion has been canceled – and you’ve now got a matter of minutes to prepare, plate and present an incredible meal. “In the private industry, when you’re the chef on a yacht, everything can change in an instant,” says Chef Manny Slomovits, who has spent the past dozen years globetrotting, cooking on the open seas or at ports of call as a luxury private chef. He spends time on mega yachts, private islands and jets, and estates, palaces and mansions. He has prepared meals for movie stars and musicians, athletes and politicians, dictators, kings and queens – and he shared some of his amazing experiences at Roots, our signature culinary conference, in September 2017.
Manny calls Roots “a great way to get extremely talented, passionate, incredible people together to inspire one another and to be inspired.” As far as downsides, he listed only one: “There just isn’t enough time to share all that should be shared!”
With that thought in mind, we invited him to discuss more of what he would have said at Roots, if time was not a constraint. In response, he largely focused on describing what it’s like to serve as a private chef, both pro and con.
“If you want to travel to numerous countries,” he says, “exposing yourself to multiple cultures, if you want to live at the edge of a cliff, feeling both excited and uncomfortable, then these are some of the benefits of the private industry. If you like the idea of not having to pay crazy taxes and not having overhead and expenses, then you should explore the private industry.”
Serving as the chef on a yacht, though, comes with adjustments. “If you work in a restaurant, you can create menus based on seasonal ingredients, in ways that show off who you are as a chef. But, let’s say you’ve been hired by Bill Gates, and let’s say that Bill only wants to eat cheeseburgers. Every day. Cheeseburgers. Just cheeseburgers. He also wants you to stop toasting the bun. His wife, meanwhile, might like a toasted bun, but she wants you to skip the tomatoes, even though you love tomatoes and only source the absolute best.”
Your employers might request breakfast at 8 a.m. and show up at 11 a.m. “You end up making breakfast five times that day,” Manny says, “re-poaching eggs because you want to serve the very best quality. They might eat lunch at 3 p.m. and then want a middle of the night snack.”
When your employers entertain, though, Manny adds, they might quickly shift gears and want you to create a stellar menu they can show off.
Manny shares how a Saudi Arabian prince once rented an island for three weeks at the cost of more than one million dollars for the rental fees alone. He was going to show up on, say, a Tuesday. “But,” Manny says, “he might show up on Monday – or on Wednesday. In this case, he was always coming ‘tomorrow,’ but tomorrow never came. We kept re-ordering food, so we wouldn’t run out of fresh ingredients, but he never showed up. Some people have no concept of money because they can’t spend it quickly enough. For them, the most valuable commodity is time.”
When you serve as a private chef, you might end up on a remote island, one you can only arrive at via a sea plane and a series of shuttle boats. “If you run out of Gillette deodorant,” Manny says, “oh, well. You run out. You can’t just go out to get more. You may feel cut off from the world, from your usual comforts, and you will often see the same faces, repeatedly.”
If, after weighing pros and cons of private industry, you are interested in this career path, Manny says there are several ways to transition your career. “You can do it by the book, signing up at a career agency – or at ten agencies. You can rely more upon word of mouth, upon friends of friends who need a chef, or you can network with captains or go dock walking in different ports with your business cards in hand.”
Ultimately, each chef needs to decide what makes sense for himself or herself. But, Manny offers a caution about limiting yourself too much. “Most of the people I associate with,” he says, “tend to consider their dreams to be impossible, so they create walls and box themselves in. Or, they offer up excuses, such as ‘I couldn’t possibly do that. I have kids. I have a wife. I can’t just pick up and go.’ They soon convince themselves that they can’t do a certain thing. But, I believe that the human spirit is so powerful that you should simply treat it right and then put your plans into action.”
Here’s more information about Chef Manny Slomovits. What dream has he just inspired you to pursue? That’s the power of networking, that’s the power of inspiring one another, and that’s the power, we believe, of Roots – Roots conferences from the past and those yet to come. See you in 2018?