From Stew to Chef


Being onboard yachts we are all so fortunate to have our meals prepared for us. I have tried various delicacies onboard that I may of never tasted otherwise. The whole idea of the Chief Stew testing the guest food so she can further explain it to the guests is something I’m totally behind and it’s led to some delicious bite-size meals. Depending on the size of the vessel, the Galley team can range in size, but one thing always remains – the crew are always well fed.

Today I am chatting with Kathleen, a lovely lady from South Africa that recently made the switch from Stewardess to Crew Chef!

Hi there! My name is Kathleen but people call me Kat. I am from a small town in South Africa called Knysna.  I am an obsessive list-maker, tea-drinker, movie-lover, ice-cream fanatic. I joined yachting back in 2014 after studying Events Management and having the itch to travel and adventure away from home. I had seen a couple of friends from home had joined this fascinating industry and I figured it would be the perfect way to fill my craving to see the world and earn money at the same time. My first proper job took me to the Bahamas, Mediterranean and up the USA East Coast. I was on board for nearly 3 years and had the best time! I’m so grateful that my first job gave me life-long friends and so many amazing memories and experiences. After the boat sold, the crew slowly started moving on to find other jobs and so the stews started filling in for the chef. We took turns in cooking lunch and dinner for the crew for our last 7 months onboard. I really enjoyed getting to know the galley and mixing up my daily tasks. 

How did you decide it was the right time to move into the Galley?

I cooked for the crew on my last boat when the chef was on vacation and always enjoyed it. I joined my current boat as the second stewardess and 7 months later an opportunity came up to work with the new head chef joining. I had heard a lot of good things about him, and I was craving a new challenge so I figured my new role as Sous Chef would be just that!

The most exciting part about being/working in the Galley?

The most exciting feeling has to be that I feel like I’m being challenged every day. I have been very fortunate to have my first experience as a Sous Chef working with one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. The Head Chef made every day in the Galley a great day. We would laugh for hours, play the music really loud when the boss left for day trips and built a great friendship. It’s exciting to walk into the Galley every morning knowing I’ll learn something new that day; whether it’s how to make a dish I’ve never made or even watching the Head Chef work and plate the boss’s food.

Where do you get your food inspo from?

My main source of inspiration is probably Pinterest (I can spend hours scrolling and searching for tasty recipes!). I also find inspiration on the accounts I follow on Instagram or flicking through food magazines. When the boat is docked and we have some time off I love to go out for lunch and dinner at my favorite spots or finding new restaurants – scanning through the menus inspires me to try some things when I’m back in the galley.

Do you have any formal food training or are you self taught?

I studied Events Management in 2012-2014 which also had compulsory days in the kitchen. During that time I learned how to make classic and basic dishes, as well as knife skills, time management in a kitchen, menu compilation and so forth. I did an internship for 4 weeks with a caring company (and didn’t like it!) – cooking for large amounts of people (200+)  was not my cup of tea! Other than that, I would say I’m mostly self-taught. I’m fortunate to have a very food-obsessed family – everyone loves to cook! My brother-in-law did a 7-course degustation menu for our family Christmas the one year, my mom insists on grinding her own spices, making her own sausages and pretty much has an open pantry for produce in our garden!

What do you miss most about being a stew?

~ Being able to see outside! The galley I’ve been working in doesn’t have a window so I need to make an extra effort to get some fresh air at least once or twice a day on trip.

~ Setting the table for dinner service and working with flowers.

~ Wearing makeup and feeling “pretty”. That being said, getting up in the morning and only worrying about getting dressed and tying my hair up has been AMAZING.

If you could only eat one dish every day for lunch, what would it be?

That’s a no-brainer – Pesto Pasta. All-day, every day!

Favorite easy peasy recipe?

Zoodles with burst tomatoes and lemony avocado sauce.  Blitz avocado, lemon, garlic, fresh parsley, s&p, and olive oil. Sauté cherry tomatoes in a skillet with olive oil. Add zucchini noodles and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Toss with creamy avocado sauce and tomatoes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and a crack of black pepper. 

A massive thank you to Kathleen for sharing her story with us today! I recently tried her Zoodle recipe while cooking for my family & it was SO DELICIOUS. This girl has some serious talent!

If you want to follow more of Kathleen’s adventures (she’s currently in Alaska!) then check out her Social Media below…

Instagram: @Kathleenleah_s


Thanks for reading everyone!

Big Hugs,

Gem x

Follow me

Related Posts:

Get inspired! Pop your email in to get our cocktail recipe cards!


Download and print off our recipe cards and take them with you to all of your boats, so next time a guest asks for a cocktail and says “Surprise me”, you’ll have some delicious go-to recipes. By signing up, you’ll also get our weekly “Happy Hour” email with a different cocktail recipe each week, helpful stew tips and the latest exciting updates from The Yacht Stew.

Thank you for subscribing! Please check your email for a confirmation link!