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Maui's Blog

Food issues? not welcomed

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The more I read, the more I am shocked...I have been looking for a new job on different sites and I still find quite frustrating the " no food issues" clause. I am a long time vegan, never made a fuss about it, always been happy to eat whatever the cook or chef could put together for me or did it myself when/where possible. I've been crewing with so called " omnivores" who for her own sake decided she did not want to eat red meat or chicken, no pasta or but I was the one welcomed by the captain with..." I'll never hire freaking vegetarians" thanks mate. What's the deal? I believe I can perform just like any omnivore.Why should it be an "issue"? Why should I miss out on jobs for my ethical choices? I'll be interested to know how other veg deal with it

Vegetables are hard to store, time consuming all require different cooking times and methods and it puts chefs in the weeds to make special crew meals for just one person. The focus is the charter guests the owners and their guests not finicky crew members. That is what one or two chefs and captains may say, I on the other hand deliver such a variety at my crew meals that it became bordering on the ridiculous, it led to waste and I suppose it is easier just not to hire that problem. The way vegans deal with it is to buy their own items put them in the crew fridge and deal with them on their time I suppose? Good Luck and power to the Vegan! However, you could become an what you want when you want and how you want and has nothing to do with ethics.
Posted by: Chef Peter at 14/03/2011 14:29

I became veggie while hired on board, and had no problem with crew, chef or whoever. Right now I'm looking for a new boat. Lately hiring officer asked me about any food requirements, so I said I'm veggie - that was a problem for him: firstly I won't be able to work effectively,secondly it would be problematic for the chef. I tried to explain I can perform as any other crew member and don't need any special treatment, but any way I did not get the job. That's scary how others people ignorance can harm us - vegetarian. It is discrimination, and shouldn't have place. Honestly I have no clue how to handle it.
Posted by: Aleksandra at 14/03/2011 18:09

ChefPeter vegans do not rely on vegetables for their dietary needs. You missed the point, I was just pointing out the unfair selection criteria applied nowadays, based obviously on bad experiences and not a fair trial period. We all know and agree to prioritizing owners and charter guests needs when on board, it's our job stews, chefs, deckies and even vegans.
Posted by: Maui at 14/03/2011 19:52

I have two CV's in front of me. One is a regular diet and the other is a veggie. Guess which one I am going to hire.
Either change you diet or change your profession. Its your choice to be a veggie and our choice to hire the someone that is not a veggie.
Good luck.
Posted by: Captain BK at 14/03/2011 20:29

I have worked with several chefs over the years who always comment when there is discussion on potential new crew that they not have any special dietary requirements. From their perspective its more hassle and work. Sorry but thats reality. Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot, you are in the crew mess and the topic is potential new crew and you discover one candidate can only have their clothes hand washed by the stews as they dont think washing machines are environmentally sound or some other detergent/ health issue (just as an example), guess what the stews will have to say about it?! Yeah, I thought so.
Posted by: kapt_mark at 14/03/2011 22:48

I'm pretty sure If I asked for a steak dinner everyday the chef would tell me to bugger off. Fussy eaters are a pain in the galley.
Posted by: Dean at 14/03/2011 22:58

'The focus is the charter guests, the Owners and their Guests, not finicky crew members...'
Or perhaps 'Chef' Peter it is easier for you to have crew onboard who like burgers, chips and pasta at every meal as it makes your life so simple...more time to spend 'resting' watching movies as opposed to coming up with decent crew food. Our chef cooks for all - even the non-veggies eat the veggie food. Now THAT is a real chef.
Posted by: KMiller at 15/03/2011 12:50

I think you and Maui missed Chef Peter's point; he followed up his opening statements with "That is what one or two chefs or captains might say, I on the other hand..."
I crewed for years and I was a veggie and it wasn't a big deal. If the chef served chicken, rice and salad to the crew, I was fine with just eating the rice and salad. Vegetrian is not synonomous with Picky!
Posted by: Kate at 15/03/2011 19:42

From a chef...."yeah, no problem veggie stew".....but here are my standards: I want everything (yes everything) sheets, my underwear, towels...all of it. It's my standard at my house. If you are veggie enough to say it, you will not eat whatever is easy...whatever comes out of the galley (and you should not be preparing your own food...another hassle...chefs usually buy it, restock it, protect it from other crew...). It just doesn't work. These are the compromises we make to work in this industry....that's why it is NOT for everybody!!!! Good luck, you may have an opportunity to make it work, for awhile.
Posted by: Laura L Cherington at 15/03/2011 19:58

If I could run a yacht without a chef, I WOULD. They are the problem children usually. If a professional chef can't allow for cooking for certain other fellow crew members, then they should go back and work at McDonalds.

Veggie eaters are a breeze to cook for, chefs if they are good which alot aren't, should always have a nice selection of fresh vegetables with lunch and or dinner.
Pretty simple really.
Capt Kaj
Posted by: Capt Kaj at 15/03/2011 20:04

I had a captain who had hired me as a vegetarian and then would often threaten to sack me for being vegetarian (he said he had done it before)! I am vegetarian as I am allergic to pork products and just don't like other meats (would you not hire someone because they don't like spuds?). I am not a fussy eater and most chefs serve a meal of a meat dish, vegetable dish (or two) and a salad at each meal and I have been more than happy just not taking anything from the meat dish. 90% of chefs have been fine about it. Its an increasing trend in the general population due to many health, ethical beliefs and religious reasons so maybe the chefs need to update their repertoire if they are struggling to provide for vegetarians. I would like to hear the captain explain to the owner that they didn't hire the best candidate for the crew position as it was going to make the chef's life a bit harder. Good luck with that one!!
Posted by: KB at 15/03/2011 20:12

A real chef won't treat veggie as an 'issue'. As Katie said above - from all dishes our chef served us, I took only what I wanted to eat. The chefs I used to work with was even so nice to prepare sometimes veggie food only for me - they did it without me asking for it. So it is possible to be veggie onboard without any issues. Some captains here seem to have not much of experience working with veggies or normal chefs. Make life simpler by being cooperative, rather than fight against each other - that what good crew is about.
Posted by: Aleksandra at 15/03/2011 20:37

applause to the evolution.. lets just stock the boats with chips and frozen foods and have the crew live on it, look like supermodels and perfectly perform 18 hour days with a big smile.. that should get them through
Posted by: Mysore at 15/03/2011 20:39

I have no problem with people who make choices on what they wish to eat due to allergies. I do have a problem with people who wish to live like the people they are employed to serve aboard. If you want to be a Pescatarian, great, good on you. However if questioned about it I would expect the person to have a half decent reason for choosing that lifestyle and be prepared to defend it. I do not mean in an aggressive questioning from the crew, but in a normal mealtime discussion, where we all learn a little. As for saying a vegetarian is better than on Omnivore - I wouldn't be able to tell you KB, if you prove it please post it and we will discuss on board it over falafel. Good luck with that one!
Posted by: smiley at 15/03/2011 20:41

Sure, a veg/vegan can preform. I can site professional athletes who are able to do it, but not on a yacht. I'm looking for someone to fit in, not require special treatment. Give one person special food, and you have to give everyone special food.

If you are given a personal selection of food, then why should the engineer not get a steak every night? Do you see where this road leads? PROBLEMS FOR THE CAPTAIN! Hence, you will struggle to find a job in yachting.

Don't despair, though. The Sea Shepard may be hiring, you can go hang out with your own kind!
Posted by: Erik at 15/03/2011 20:59

I'll eat anything, really. Put it in front of me and it's gone. There is nothing I do not eat., however; I could easily be a vegetarian. I just prefer a healthier diet, and love fresh veg & pasta. It seems that people of a certain mind-set (control freak Captains), hear "veggie" and immediately assume this is a problem. If your Chef isn't including a salad for lunch, get another Chef! I envision 5 hunks of flesh on a platter ... and nothing else with those who think vegetarians are a problem. There is usually a variety of things for crew. It's standard. I've worked with many, NONE have ever wanted special treatment. You eat meat, they like pasta. Diversity is what makes the world go around.
Posted by: Vinogal4 at 15/03/2011 21:29

I agree with Captain BK....IT IS ALL ABOUT CHOICE AND ONLY CHOICE. The problem in today's world is you can't tell that person why you didn't hire them without lieing....unless you want to end up in court.
Posted by: Capt AL at 15/03/2011 21:29

Hmm 2 CV's in front of you: the smoking, tattooed, partier or the single vegetarian with the nice rack. Now what Captain?
Posted by: Vinogal4 at 15/03/2011 21:37

Hmm 2 CV's in front of you: the smoking, tattooed, partier or the single vegetarian with the nice rack. Now what Captain?

Those are the first two CV's I throw in the trash!
How would that be the final two??? I was looking for a stew and got over 100 CV'S!! I did far better than those choices! Stews are dime a dozen!
Posted by: Erik at 15/03/2011 21:44

Erik, what's the deal with the "special treatment" and "someone to fit in" "our own kind"? maybe you had bad experiences with some of them but this vegan does NOT want special treatment and can perform like any other omnivore crew member. Vegans do not have two heads or blue skin...unless you see them like that. So back to the point of focus, why do not give a chance even to "our kind" taking advantage of the trial period? I can perform and be no trouble for food, FINE,if not and I am a pasty wimp let me walk the plank.
Posted by: Maui at 15/03/2011 21:45

I totally understand how both captains and chefs would prefer to have non food issue crew onboard, wether it be vegetarians, allergies or just being picky. And in this industry they happen to be able to chose exactly what and who they want. And i guess that is why it is not for everyone. If you have a problem getting a job try to make yourself as attractive to the market as possible. It is just common sense. Unfortunately there is a big lack of that among yachties.
Anyhow, on my last boat it really did get quite ridiculous when the chef had to stock 5 types of milk. I did not even know that there was that many. Well, of course a lot of them are not milk but still. Regular, low fat, low lactose, soy milk. And then when one girl still wanted yet another type (i do not wanna be sexist but in my experience girls are the pickier ones) she could not even go buy it because the chef was not around to lend her his credit card. If i had such issues that i could not drink one of all those milk types i would either just get over it and not drink milk or at least just go buy it with my own money if was all that important.
As someone said, some people are trying to live like the people they are there to serve. Well, then i guess they gotta be ready to pay for it too.
Posted by: STE at 15/03/2011 23:05

Maui, you could turn this to an advantage. Lets face it if a captain is so stuck in his own biggotrys that he can't see people for who they are, or a chef incapable of extending beyond burgers and chips then you are better off by not joinng that boat. Many omnivore crew will get accepted by these boneheaded idiots only to find the closed mindedness extends beyond the dinner table, and they'll look for other boats. To me a captain who can't respect someone as an individual is a rubbish captain. Thankfully on my boat everyone looks out for each other and puts themselves out for each other. We respect the cultural and dietry differences and do our best for each other. That's probably why over three quarters of the crew have been onboard for over 3 years.
Posted by: wondrinfree at 15/03/2011 23:23

Why should chefs have to work harder and cook separate meals for people who make a "lifestyle" choice, fair enough if you are alergic to certain types of foods or dairy products, but vegos, vegans and whatever else there are just people who are fussy eaters. Its a lifestyle choice people. My lifestyle choices would be to get up go and surf all day and drink beer all night dont see me having a cry about it because i cant do it!! If you dont like it leave we are in a previlged industry and get to do and see some amazing things which people quickly forget about. Suck it up
Posted by: hewy at 16/03/2011 00:11

There is no "I" in team. As soon as you place yourself in a separate group like Vegan or Vegetarian or Smoker, you separate yourself from the team. It implies that you think you are different. You think it is not such a big deal that you have a couple of things in the fridge that only you can eat, but what about if every crew member wants that? The crew fridge isn't big enough. If we allow you, we have to allow others too. Plus there is a big difference between vegetarian and vegan. Vegan is so much more restricted and thus more hassle to cater for. I have to agree with those people who wrote that this industry is not for everyone.
Posted by: N.H. at 16/03/2011 00:20

This food thing is ridiculous. When you pay aboard a yacht you should expecet to eat what everyone else eats. If you are kosher, vehan, or whatever, stay ashore and leave international yachting out of your life.
Posted by: Capt. Adrian at 16/03/2011 00:41

As a chef I will say this" Veggie kid no problem!" Leaving meat out of a few dishes is not that big a deal. Making burgers throw a few veggie patties out, making steaks roast some mushroom steaks. There are much harder things to work with as a chef. Picky eaters cause me way more headaches! On my boat I have 1 low carb, 2 no red meat, 1 no dairy, 1 who hates all things Mexican and it goes on and on. During charter they know that I can not keep up with all of their preferences as I would during off time but a salad, fresh fruit, a clean protein and some kind of carb-everyone is happy. All that being said Vegan is much more difficult to work with as it is in many pastas, baked good sauces ect,

Something I do with my crew is gather a bunch of magazines and cook books and give them colored tabs and ask them to mark items they like. If your a veg and have some good menu ideas that the whole crew would like offer them up! I love it when a crew member give me inspiration instead of complaints.

If being a veg is holding you up at the door then don't make it an issue at the interview or at your job. As long as your willing to maybe pick around meat at the crew table you should be ok. As a chef I respect the diet choices people make to improve their health. It is the ones who are picky for the sake of being picky that are the worst and no one will admit that at an interview!

Good luck!
Posted by: Amanda at 16/03/2011 00:47

I have worked in the industry for 7 years and being a "vegetarian" has never been a problem!

If any thing, the crew love the fact that there is more wholesome food available to them!

A fantastic chef will arise to the situation and explore their skills in a new or expanding way. It is not always about cooking for one individual but having healthy choices for the people who make that yacht run.

To be honest if the Capt does not want to hire don't want to work for someone who can be narrow minded
Posted by: Skip at 16/03/2011 01:11

I have had vegetarians as crew, with no problem at all, but vegans are like extreme vegetarians. I also see no connection with ethics; you either eat certain things, or you don't. This is not the right industry for people who think eating certain things has ethical ramifications. Use your organic shampoo, and as far as discrimination is concerned, wake up and look around; this industry is rife with every kind of discrimination, from age, appearance, religion, color, nationality, size, hair color, and boat preference and experience. If this sounds harsh, then it is about time you heard the truth. Life is not fair.
Posted by: Just Saying at 16/03/2011 01:18

Send me your mums menu, how you learn to eat, and if I have time I will learn to please's still the boss who payes me though...Montignac dietry+kids and teens
Posted by: ????? at 16/03/2011 01:22

I believe budget on board most of the time is the big issue, shoppping storage and preparation and pleased owner crew and guest is not easy job, expecially if the chef is alone in the galley...We need remember end of the day and during the day all the thingh he as to do in galley (cleaning high igiene standard ect on board is for free we need to apricied whatever they gave to us and also you got pay good money soo take care about yourself and do not make chef's life busy just for you.
The crew normally after few month forget what the crew house life was,and pretend to have the same food like owner and guest......and dont forget we all work for the captain so if he dosent want vegan kosher , chinese ,australian ,italian ,french ,tatoo,cross eyes,ugly people....ect He is the real owner good luck enjoy the industry
Posted by: eddj at 16/03/2011 01:33

Me again im apology for my english writing ciao
Posted by: eddj at 16/03/2011 01:35

"Erik, what's the deal with the "special treatment" and "someone to fit in" "our own kind"? maybe you had bad experiences with some of them but this vegan does NOT want special treatment and can perform like any other omnivore crew member."

I told you in my first post. It has NOTHING to do with performance. I'm sure you can work like a mule! The fact remains, if you CHOOSE not to eat certain things, why should everyone else not get to CHOOSE what they want to eat?

I prefer to keep things as equal as possible between the crew. High stress, combined with a perception of inequality, breeds animosity. Ask anyone who has worked with a husband/wife team. If I let you have a special meal, so should everyone else, and that's not fair to the chef.

So, stop being shocked that it a requirement for MOST vessels is to not be a picky eater, there are reasons. Maybe some will be impressed by your liberal thinking, and welcome you, it just won't be me.

Good luck in your job hunt...try a blowboat!
Posted by: Erik at 16/03/2011 02:41

Erik [Comment removed by moderator] in your world stewies are a dime a dozen. I think you will find that captains are a dime a dozen too. The good ones though are diamonds. I think it is worth feeding people well to work alongside great people.
Ps I have been veggie most of my life, always had a job and am strong like a car jack. Yo ho me hearty yo ho yo ho
Posted by: Frank Sparrow at 16/03/2011 03:38

My chef is a veghead and I'm cool with it although I did have reservations about hiring hire. She makes great food forces me to eat healthier and I'm ok with that.

The flip side is cooks what I tell her to cook or what is needed for the guests without exception and even then she puts her spin on it and without issue. I wold say though and have had in the past vegheads that are an issue cooking around and I wouldn't go down that path again. Vegans are even harder to cook for from my understanding of the meaning so why would I put my chef thru that or myself?

I agree with the comments that sometimes it's worth finding a new career where things like this aren't stacked against you at the start.
Posted by: Capt. Sid at 16/03/2011 05:55

As a chef AND a vegetarian I totally know what you're going through and the immediate shock and disapproval that is often received when people find out about your dietary choices. On the getting hired front, I'd follow the "don't ask don't tell" kind of policy and don't be a picky eater!!(as in eat whatever vegan fare you are given.) Most chefs are going to offer vegetables and salad with meals and you'll have to get by on that or be prepared to have some food on hand you can eat. I'd love to say I happily accommodate any and all crew food requests but unfortunately it is sometimes impossible to please everyone! A lot of the time the owner and guests are first priority so not as much time can be dedicated to elaborate meals. If it is important to you approach the chef (not the captain) in private and discuss your needs and be willing to work with them! I'd be happy to buy a crew member special pre-made food items they can eat if that makes them happy. Though I am not as strict being a vegetarian not a vegan, I have worked in the yachting industry for 6 years without a problem. I even cook meat daily on a very Southern boat... sometimes you have to separate your personal and professional beliefs. Best of luck!!!
Posted by: Chef Caroline at 16/03/2011 13:20

Being a chef, I realize that it's necessary to work around different dietary restrictions, be it allergies, preferences, or what have you. All too often, these discussions become black and white, i.e. being totally carniverous as opposed to being totally vegetarian. There is a happy balance between the two and it's up to me to discover exactly where that balance is. That is why I serve crew meals family-style for the most part. That way crew members can pick and choose what they put on their plates and how much.

My main problem with crew preferences is when they are overly picky. Then I have to get into preparing 6 different individual meals instead of one big one. Most yacht galleys and storage areas are very limited and when I have to get into 6 different choices on everything, crew and galley fridges become overloaded. We have to all be more accomodating with each other and leave super-restrictive personal preferences at the dock. Crew have to live in very close and personal spaces, which is completely unlike most other professions. We have to be able to not only work together; we also have to be able to LIVE together.

That being said, I've rarely run into someone in the industry that is unreasonable with their dietary requirements. They understand that while we're on charter, they have to be a little more accomodating and may have to fend for themselves, from time to time. I just make sure there is always an option in my stores for just such an occasion.

Unfortunately, a vegan diet is so restrictive that it is very difficult to accomodate in a close-quartered situation like you would find on a yacht (unless, of course, it is a very large one). By choosing that diet, you are in essence limiting your employment options. If that's something that you can live with, then by all means, go for it. Just realize that by doing so, you are in essence closing some doors in the process. There is no such thing as "equal employment opportunity" in the yachting industry, like it or not.
Posted by: Christian Russo at 16/03/2011 13:39

It appears from reading all the blogs that vegatarians are cool, vegans are not. Fair enough. Personal preferences range from being downright picky through to allergic and everything inbetween.

However, I baulk at crew wanting a specific type of beer, the "Oh I only drink Heinekin" type mindset. I even had a deckhand who told the chef to buy HIS favourite beer! That got stopped in its tracks!

I also baulk at crew saying "I want fillet steak because I don´t like rump". Fine, don´t eat it then. That won´t make me change the menu just for one picky crew member.

Remember if you skate on thin ice, you will eventually fall through!
Learn to be receptive to all people, however, limits should be set on how much you pander to people. Remember also, life on a yacht is a privelege, never a right to everything YOU want.
Capt Kaj
Posted by: Capt Kaj at 16/03/2011 14:34

I agree, life on a yacht is a privelege. Besides that, and most unfortunately, the discussion of right and wrong is inane anyway. It is an unfair world. Here's the deal; in general in the yachting world noone likes female deckhands, loved-up couples, fat stews and eaters with 'out-of-the-norm' preferences. It's a shame, but it is what it is. Accept that you will lose jobs over it or change your lifestyle, cos you sure as hell aren't going to change the minds of captains and chefs the world over.
Posted by: Starfish at 16/03/2011 16:25

I love how many think it's a privelage to work on a yacht. It's not. What is a privelage is to come in contact with so many unique people. I love this industry!
Every yacht I have ever worked on the chef asked for my food preferences. Am I allergic to anything? Do I hate chicken? Blah blah blah. I have yet to meet ANYONE that can make everyone happy all the time. But
If the program allows for personal preferences... THAT'S AWESOME. But if it doesn't allow for luxuries (such as being a VEGAN or Maui Jim SUNGLASSES) then obviously you need to buy your own food.
I always buy what I want if I don't like what is served. But I usually eat what the chef serves whether I like it or not. They work just has hard and usually HARDER than anyone else.
Don't like meat? Ask the captain for a food allowance... I bet 5 out of 10 will give you one.
Every yacht is unique.... some have unlimited budgets... some have no budget. Be a great "shipmate" that's all you can do to get ahead.
Posted by: Zach Knapp at 16/03/2011 20:40

Feeding a vegan crewmember isn't very difficult.
So you have to portion some non aminal products on a plate-big deal.Good chefs can handle it w/o any problems. What about Gluten-Free crew?? What about captain's wives ( wheelhouse chief stews) who demand special diets?
Posted by: annonomous at 18/03/2011 02:12

Crew is a crewmember working for the Captain and ultimately the owner. There are no special requests when it comes to food. You're fed what is made. Being a Vegitarian has no place in the industry as does a deckhand that requires seafood at every lunch and dinner meal. It's one thing to make an exception for a crew member once in a while, but not create extra work every single day. You're fed what is available, what is on board, and what the chef is able to make for you AFTER the owner or guests are fed first. Too many newbies forget that they are the employee and not the employer, not to mention the limited amount of galley space, refrigeration space, and time.
Posted by: A at 18/03/2011 08:00

Wow! A sounds like an owner I used to work for. Good luck keepint crew!
Posted by: a at 18/03/2011 23:46

Not at all. But crew have long forgotten that they are hired to do a job, and crew meals have always been the same for everyone. Why should 1 crewmember recieve special consideration when it is a lifestyle choice. Should the chef make individual meals for each crewmember like at Denny's? The guests and owners come before the crew, as they are the ones paying and employing the crew to serve them, the chef has enough work to do and then has to find the time to cook for the crew as well. Would you go to someone's wedding and tell them that you aren't going to eat 1 of the 2 choices offered and you want something totally different made just for you?

It's a seagoing job and crew meals have always been whatever the chef makes that night, and you either eat it or don't. There are too many primadona's in the industry these days, who are worried about what handbag they are buying next and texting on their Iphone, instead of focusing on taking pride in their work.
Posted by: A at 19/03/2011 03:43

Hire on as chef. I did, as a longtime vegan-vegetarian. The owners & their guests (as well as the crew) enjoy an incredibly varied menu (including dairy, meat & seafood choices) and love the healthy & delicious meals. More people are aware of the all-around benefits of fruit & vegetable nutrition and appreciate the tlc in their food.
Posted by: SP at 26/03/2011 00:41

Some vegans are a pain in the ass and they always asking for different treatment onboard. [Comment removed] If they want different treatment go to a spa clinic or special restaurant, in yachts you need to accept all from the chef or take your bags and go home! and they always think they are different and specialss, [Comment removed]
Posted by: Chef Frederico at 29/03/2011 20:00

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