micail and dom

M/Y Go Galley Team: Micail Swindells and Dom Horsey

In our first ever superyacht chef galley team interview we speak to the all male galley team of Motoryacht Go.

Micail Swindells and Dom Horsey have been working together in the galley of M/Y Go for some time now, and recently came 2nd in the Antigua Charter Show chefs competition.

The two lads are constantly pushing themselves and learning through courses and stages around the world. They are often featured in chef publications and are making waves for themselves in the super yachting community.

Can you tell us more about your current boat?

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We have been on board as a galley team since the build 16 months ago. Motoryacht Go is a 77 meter Turquoise Motor Yacht. M/Y Go is available for both private and charter.

Motoryacht Go has around 19 crew on board and takes up to 16 guests.

Motoryacht GO and the crew on a recent Atlantic Crossing

Can you tell us more about how you got into being a superyacht chef?

Micail – I had left school at the age of 14. I went straight into catering college. By the time I had completed my NVQs I had already been working part-time in kitchens for three years.

I then moved up to London from Bath at 18 to work in my first Michelin star restaurant. After spending 6 years working around the restaurant scene, I decided to make the move and do something that was a little different, and yachting inspired me.

Dom – I was living in France and I was about to open a gourmet Fish and Chip restaurant. This fell through, so I was in La Ciotat working in a restaurant. Then I completed the ship’s cook certificate after which I got my first sous chef job on a yacht.

How did you get your first job on a boat?

Micail – I was pretty lucky as I was in Antibes for a day. It was then that I got the call for a trial dinner on a 28 meter in Monaco. As I did not know the area, I had bought all my produce in Antibes and got there by train. On arrival in Fontenelle, the captain then told me that the owner did not want dinner that night!!

Instead, in the morning I would be flying back with him to the UK for a two-week trial at his newly built manor house. After this, it was back to the boat to get set up for the busy charter and boss trips – I think I had my first day off around three months later!!!

Dom – I was advised by my brother, who used to be a yachtie, to go and work as a deckhand in the south of France to make some money after my business idea fell through. Once there, I got a job in a restaurant during nights after work. I was cooking for the crew in our crew accommodation as the boat was out of the water. They said I should be a crew/sous!

With the guidance of another yacht chef/friend, Al Vorster, and Helen from YPI CREW, I passed the Ships Cook Cert, which helped me get a job very quickly!

What does a normal day look like for you off charter?

We try to give the crew more of an exciting focus.We do this by spending a bit more time on them. Off charter allows us to deep-clean and reorganise in preparation for the next trip.

We do an inventory of all stock and start menu planning and preparing for the next trips. Oh and the galley team get in some needed hours of rest and a few beers!

What does a normal day look like for you on charter?

Up at 6 am to start breakfast mise en place. Once this is completed, we wait for hot orders and simultaneously start preparing for lunch and dinner. If we can, we try to squeeze in a break, after guest lunch, usually to have a swim! Dinner rarely goes past 11 pm then the usual clean down. Pull (what does this mean?) and make sure all is planned for the next day.

What would you say is the most exciting thing about being a chef in the super yachting industry?

Micail – Being able to stage your time off with visits to the world’s best restaurants. Then come back and use the new style or techniques on our clients, and the travelling isn’t too bad either.

Dom – Using rare products from all over the world and travelling to some of the most beautiful places in the world.

Infamous Meat Fruit, made famous by Heston Blumenthal and recreated by the galley team of M/Y GO

Do you have any advice for new yacht chefs coming into the  industry?

Be friendly, passionate and work hard; good things will come to you!

What has been the most challenging thing you have overcome in your yachting career?

Micail – During my first season, it was tough making the transition from restaurants to yacht life. For example, being told by Russian charter guests how to cook in a very rude tone, and then being told your food is s**t.

Dom – I am a real Nomad. Biting the bullet and staying in this role long enough to really progress and step up to the next level has been a constant mental fight. But one that I’m proud that I am doing!

M/Y GO Galley Team setting up a beach BBQ for guests

What is your working dynamic like? Head down or all banter? 

It’s a bit of both, to be honest. We have calmer periods where we take the foot off the throttle and other times when we put the hours in.

But the banter stays a constant between us, as we have a great friendship. We constantly search and try out new ideas and flavour combinations, so it’s a very creative work environment.We are always bouncing ideas off each other.

Your plates are gorgeous, how much time do you both spend on experimenting and designing new menus?

We spend as much time as possible plating and trying out dishes before they go out to guests. This allows us to perfect the combination of flavours and to work on the presentation.

I believe this is massively important – our goal is to put out (if requested) the highest level of fine dining. If you look at the top restaurants in the world, they all employ development chefs.

Unfortunately, we do not have that luxury. But the point is, I believe dishes grow and develop in tiny ways that make a huge difference. So we test and then analyse as much as we can beforehand.

What interesting ingredients or techniques are you obsessed with right now in the galley?

We have been working with different ferments that we use on numerous dishes in many ways. Because we believe that these add a really unique flavour. We are also playing around a lot with cold infusions of foraged Nordic products. 

What are your future plans for 2019 and beyond?

We have our first charter coming up this season on M/Y Go. Plus some boss trips. Then the boat is going into the yard for the winter. Dom and I are looking to both get a few stages in that time. 

We want to keep working as a galley team so the plan is then to get Dom to step up to rotational  head chef with myself.

So we will be looking for a new Sous Chef from a diverse Michelin starred background to join the team so we can continue to develop new ideas.

Chef Micail Swindells from Motoryacht GO hosting a recent mymuybueno cookery class in Palma De Mallorca

Micail, tell us more about the course you recently hosted with Mymuybueno…

I have known Justine for over 7 years. mymuybueno initially was my agent placing me on some of my vessels.

The course all came about at the launch of the mymuybueno cookery school. I was invited over for the launch back in January 2018, and I ended up helping out Dennis Eskola (Elicious) who was doing the catering for the launch.

Justine and I touched on the subject then. Over a year went by, and the more I thought about it, the more the idea grew on me. Cooking is about sharing whether it be with family around the dinner table, or chefs passing down knowledge. I thought it was time for me to pass down some of the recipes I’ve accumulated over the years to chefs who were interested and want to progress.

So, I messaged Justine to see if she was still interested and she was!

Then I spent quite a while planning the course in the end, and I thought a mini tasting menu over the two days would work best. By doing this I could show a diverse array of techniques. For me it was important that Justine’s students came away happy and excited to go back to their yachts full of confidence with the new skills that they had acquired.

The course was extremely rewarding for me as I had never taught students before. So I was pretty nervous, but once we got started things fell into place and it was a great weekend.

Lets see what the future holds in regards to doing more!

Click here for more information on the guest courses offered by mymuybueno cookery school in 2019.

You recently completed (more!) stages at a few Michelin star restaurants- Which have been your favourites?

Haha, yes I do love them, and I must be into double figures by now! I’d say my top 5 have been; Cachura in Belgium, Maaemo in Norway,  L’enclume in the UK, Geranium in Denmark, and The Fat Duck in UK 

Can you share a cheeky tip that you have learnt from a restaurant that yacht chefs can incorporate into their dishes easily?

We will share something because this is something we do when we go to stage in different restaurants. The idea is not to just copy, but to understand the process that they have developed, get inspiration, and take different elements or ideas and make our own unique dishes.

This is the artichoke leaf that I picked up in 2014 from geranium, a 3 Michelin star restaurant in Denmark.

This is the basic recipe, but you can play around with it to make different shapes, add fermented liquid to alter the flavour etc… make it your own!

Artichoke leaf 

1kgs Artichoke – peeled weight 

50g walnut oil 

10g salt 

5 g ask powder – optional 

Method 

1 – Peel the sun chokes 

2 – Cut on the mandolin at 3 mm 

3 – Bag the sun chokes and cook in boiling water until soft 

4 – Blend the cooked sunchokes with the rest of the ingredients

5 – Spread the puree on to the leaf moulds and cook at 95 degrees for 2 hours 

6 – Deep fry the dried leaf at 180 degrees and press into the leaf mould

Micail, You have judged a few yacht chef competitions recently, which side of the table do you prefer to be on now?

As much as a privilege it was to be asked to sit down with some amazing Michelin star chefs when I judged the MYBA chef comp and also to see and eat all the 30 chefs’ dishes, I am a chef not a judge.

I will always choose the excitement of the competitions. I love the thought process, planning and originality that comes with them from the brief to the table.

MYBA superyacht chefs competition 2017

You both recently came 2nd in the Antigua charter show chefs competition, how was that experience?

Dom: It was my first experience of a chef competition, and to be honest I was quite nervous before. But due to all our hard work in preparation on the days before, combined with Micail’s experience, I really enjoyed the high pressure for a few hours and was really proud of the dishes we produced.

What was your prep like in the lead up to the competition?

We worked on the menu idea for about a month, brainstorming ideas together. We then had a few days of intense prep, with the Boss on, and had one trial meal for the captain and some friends.

Sous chef Dom Horsey from Motoryacht GO

How has yachting pushed you as a chef?

Dom: Yachting offers chefs a real different experience using high end products from all over the world, and the chance to run two different menus every day!

I think Micail hired me based on my hunger to learn new ideas.I had shown this during all my stages in different restaurants around the world. As I have grown as a chef, he has given me more creative input and freedom to invent new ideas under his guidance.

My next stop is Japan this winter to go and learn from a few incredible chefs out there, and buy some new knives!

How does working on a busy boat with a foodie boss help to push you to create more interesting dishes?

When we asked him for his food preferences on our first trip, he replied “I will give you 2 weeks to do your thing, then, I will tell you if I like it. “

Apart from a few minor hints, he has given us complete freedom to create original and new dishes for him which is really exciting. It’s also pretty unheard of in yachting!

Who are the other yacht chefs you think are killing it in the industry right now?

There are so many great yacht chefs in the superyacht chef industry that it would be hard to single anyone out. Every chef is unique to the environment and their owners and everyone is special in their own way. We enjoy following an array of different yacht chefs on your page.

What are your favourite Instagram accounts to follow for inspiration?

mymuybueno 

Markbirchall

Jantournier 

Chef.mattabe 

Eleven Madison Park 

Chocolate jewels 

M/Y Go galley team in action

Since you both work heavily in molecular cuisine and new techniques, what is your favourite piece of equipment in the galley and why?

Even though all a lot of our dishes contain molecular elements, I believe that in general the food is not fully molecular, and is highly technique driven.

For example, the artichoke leaf recipe that we’ve shared looks and tastes amazing but doesn’t use molecular products, but is a specific technique. We also cook a huge variety of worldwide cuisines for guest lunch, which consist of much more traditional techniques.

Having said that, we have been using liquid nitrogen onboard now for many years I still believe it is one of the most fun products to play with.

If you could convince the captain to drive the boat anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?

Dom : Pacific – because I’ve never been there. 

Micail : Jamaica – as my mum lives there. 

If you could have a table at any restaurant in the world for a dinner reservation tonight, which one would it be, and who would be your dinner date?

Ultra violet by Paul Pairet in Shanghai – Eckhark Tolle 

Eleven Madison Park – David Attenbourgh 

If you were to gift someone one cookbook, what would it be…?

Eleven Madison park 

Noma Ferment

Modernist bread 

Historic Heston 

Modernist cuisine

M/Y Go Galley team, Micail and Dom

Follow both amazing chefs from the Motoryacht GO Galley team here:

Sous Chef (for now) Dom Horsey

Head Chef Micail Swindells

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