Many yacht chefs will argue that most galleys are not designed with an inherent understanding of the chef’s working needs.
First and foremost, the galley is a technical space, designed to facilitate one of the most important on-board activities: eating. While its specific design and layout needs are dictated by a vessel’s type and size, the main distinction that separates galley designs is private versus charter use.
Private yachts can get away with standard galleys designed to service small groups and families. High-end consumer-grade appliances will suffice, and good-looking stone surfaces and backsplashes can provide lovely accents, even allowing the galley to become a focal point of the main living areas, with islands and settees providing a gathering spot for family and guests.
When your boat is intended for charter, however, the design needs are kicked up a notch… or more.
If ever there was a design that separated American yacht owners from the rest of the world it is the ‘country kitchen’ concept. This main-deck, open-style galley – preferred by Americans for its windows, guest settees and islands for snacks and chats with the chef – originated on smaller, private US-built or -designed yachts.
As late as the early 2000s, the style was scoffed at by many European designers and yards, whose clients preferred to keep the galley – and its noises and aromas – hidden away below decks. But with time comes the cross blending of cultures; the country kitchen began to appear on larger custom builds and European builds, so much so that today it is considered an en vogue design trend by some.
Chefs certainly have their opinions on the subject. ‘I’m a huge fan of the country kitchen,’ says American yacht chef Adrienne Gang. ‘It allows guests to see and interact with the chef.’ Gang offers week-long cooking lessons on some of her charters, which guests love. ‘To have a closed kitchen limits the options of what you can do on a charter.’
Canadian chef Joanne MacKenzie disagrees: ‘It’s nice to be above deck with a window, but most importantly, it’s good to have a fairly self-contained galley so the chef can limit traffic. That rules out the country kitchen. It’s nice if you’re on a casual or smaller boat, but too much traffic from crew and guests makes the galley too hectic to work efficiently.’