Designing efficient galleys for superyachts

21 January 2015By Rebecca Cahilly
Yacht galleys are compact, but must meet needs of demanding guests and chefs

Food is one of the greatest pleasures – and biggest headaches – on any superyacht. And so is designing a suitable galley that can deliver high-end restaurant meals in the middle of the ocean.

Galley Designs

Proper catering requires galley designs that closely tie their functionality with specific use

Before aesthetics or other considerations, the galley is a technical space, designed to facilitate one of the most important onboard activities: eating. The galley must have an efficient layout, the correct equipment, the most appropriate materials, well thought-out waste disposal, and as much refrigeration as can be fitted into it.

While a galley’s design and layout needs are dictated by a vessel’s type and size, the biggest factor when it comes to galley design 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 the galley itself may become a focal point of the main living areas, with islands and sofas providing a gathering spot for guests.

When your boat is intended for charter the requirements are different. No matter what galley you have, layout and space planning must facilitate an efficient work-flow.

The Dutch yacht design firm Vripack suggests a triangle design that allows the chef to move about unimpeded.

Yacht chef and design consultant Peter Ziegelmeier agrees: ‘We need uniform areas with easy access so we can twist, turn and get it done.’ He stresses stewards need to have prep areas and with the right design, this can be incorporated in smaller galleys. ‘Bigger isn’t always better. I’ve worked in large, but dysfunctional, galleys.’

Galleys are central to a well-run yacht – whether it’s built for private use or charter

Plenty of natural light is another request, as is adequate ventilation. Most HVAC systems account for the extra air needed in the galley to offset extraction hoods. Most builders factor in the ducting and the fact more ducting means more to clean.

‘An ideal layout situates the galley close to the top of the boat, to minimise tubing,’ says Ziegelmeier.

Hidden extras

In a galley, details take on greater importance: like counter height, foot switches to trigger automatic doors, custom-sizeable plate holders and dual sinks.

But the one element that is requested the most has to do with loading provisions and garbage disposal – challenges yet to be completely resolved.

‘On some boats doors on either side of the galley allow us to bring in groceries, but on others you take your groceries or trash all around the boat,’ says chef Adrienne Gang.’

‘On some boats I’ve had to stack [bags of rubbish] on the galley floor,’ says Ziegelmeier, ‘because the only way to get it off the boat was to walk it past the saloon window.’

Rubbish compactors with foot pedals and direct access to a refrigerated waste storage area are common requests. ‘We’ve designed bins that store recyclables and waste,’ says Mark Obernberger, design manager at Delta Marine. ‘Other boats compact and refrigerate garbage and offload it at port.’

The ‘country kitchen’ concept is for a main-deck, open-style galley, with windows, guest sofas and islands for snacks and chats with chef.


Chefs agree storage is important, but refrigeration is crucial. ‘I would rather store plates on bunks and have refrigerator space than the other way around,’ says Gang.

‘The large American-type refrigerators have a place on all yachts over 30 metres,’ notes the Vripack design team.

‘You should be able to store two half-sheet pans (33 x 46 x 2.5cm) lengthwise,’ says Ziegelmeier. ‘The refrigeration should have an external LED-lit temperature gauge that can be calibrated and isn’t hidden inside the unit. I also recommend refrigeration backup pieces be kept on board: even an extra compressor in a locker area in the bilge.’


The trend for owners and guests to interact with the chef in the galley is reflected in the galley being finished to a higher standard, notes Andrew Trujillo of Azure Yacht Design & Naval Architecture.

Glossy lacquered doors, granite or marble worktops and attractive flooring are now common. However, on larger boats, the galley is less likely to be a social hub and the finishes will be more industrial.

Vripack suggests the galley sole be a soft material, such as a high-quality vinyl tile like Amtici. Teak is a no-no as it absorbs grease, chemicals and smells. Whatever the material, the flooring should be non-skid and easy to clean. Granite and marble are often used for the counter-tops, as are DuPont’s Corian and brushed stainless steel.

‘If you have time to maintain it,’ says Gang, ‘it is good to have nicer surfaces, for showmanship purposes.’

Marble tops are difficult to maintain, but the industrial alternative – stainless steel – is losing its shine.

‘I hate stainless,’ says chef Joanne MacKenzie. ‘It’s hard to clean and generates a lot of heat.’

Galleys (like Mr Terrible‘s, pictured) need to cope with a busy chef, serving staff and hungry crew in a very small space

The future

‘Efficiency is the trend for the industry,’ says Enrico Lumini of Hot Lab. ‘We see requests for sustainable appliances, recycled water and high-efficiency refrigeration. Architects need to be innovative and incorporate sustainable appliances, while utilising every free centimetre of space.’

There are obvious limitations imposed by yachts when it comes to cooking. ‘Chefs have issues with storage, equipment, communication, everything. The challenges will always be there, from prep and plating areas to crew communication issues,’ says Ziegelmeier. ‘But chefs are resourceful – they can turn stuff into gold.’


‘When you get into the 30m size range, practicality becomes more important,’ says Hot Lab’s Lumini. ‘The galley is like a restaurant kitchen, and the use of materials, space and appliance needs change completely.’

Care must be taken when outfitting a charter yacht galley.

‘Even if you select top consumer-brand appliances, such as Gaggenau or Sub-Zero, they cannot compare with professional equipment, especially in stoves and refrigeration,’ says Lumini.

Versatile appliances are preferred – and a 90cm oven with a six-burner stove.

‘My biggest pet peeve is the oven,’ says Ziegelmeier. ‘The best equipment is Vulcan or Wolf. Gaggenau ovens require special pans that are difficult to restock, especially when you’re in a remote location.’

March 2012

Photos by Jeff Brown/Superyacht Media