On Board M/Y FREEMONT with Chef Jeff Shute
Currently impressing as head chef both on board FREEMONT, and at the McCallum residence, there aren’t many professional chefs with more experience in the world of fine dining than Jeff Shute.
Now a fully fledged haute cuisine specialist, Jeff learnt the ropes at various restaurants in the UK before heading to Australia, and eventually New Zealand where he has made an impressive impact on the fine dining industry as head chef in a renowned Auckland steak restaurant, and more recently, at the esteemed McCallum Residence.
A passionate chef who has honed his craft over decades and proved his culinary talent in high pressure kitchens; alongside his land-based commitments, Jeff has ventured into the yachting world. After his success cooking on board FREEMONT (a stunning 35 metre classic Bennetti) we sat down with Jeff to find out a little more about what the shift from land to sea was like from a chef’s perspective.
From restaurant to superyacht: What are the differences?
Working as a chef on board a superyacht is an entirely different experience to the restaurant kitchens Jeff is used to. According to Shute, the biggest challenge is the limited space to work with. “Unlike a land-based kitchen where you have all the space you need; on board you really have to plan everything and be selective with the ingredients you choose to store.” However, any good chef can adapt. Jeff told us “A superyacht charter lends itself to creating fresh, flexible, and exciting menus. I make sure to work with the Captain and plan ahead so we get access to all the local food markets in the towns and villages on our charter itinerary.”
As a professional chef, Jeff’s approach to sustainability in food is rooted in the principle of buying locally and minimising food miles. So, you can be sure a FREEMONT charter will feature the fresh fish, meats, and produce found at those vibrant Mediterranean markets.
"We can appreciate the food more when we buy local produce from suppliers who have physically grown or farmed it. It's a great way to learn about the true culture of the region you are visiting and adds another intriguing level to the dining experience."
One experience in Corfu stands out for Jeff, where he met two fishermen who were particularly helpful in helping him choose the best fish for his menu. "They had a small family-run business and using their little van, helped us transport some of the best seafood I have ever cooked from the market down to the boat. The personal touch you get buying from small businesses like this is unmatched. You can't get that rapport with suppliers when you buy from supermarkets.” For Jeff, it's crucial to understand where our food comes from, and to appreciate the work that goes into getting food onto our plates.
A true professional: It's all in the teamwork
As for his cooking, Shute has taken inspiration from an eclectic mix of industry giants and developed his own unique style. From the famed Raymond Blanc, Keith Floyd, Gary Rhodes, Marco Pierre White, and Gordon Ramsay to New Zealand-based legend Peter Gordon.
When discussing his approach to managing a kitchen to curate an outstanding culinary experience, Jeff told us; "A kitchen must be run by a team, not just a chef, and I make sure to use my team as much as I can. They are all experts in their own niches, sommeliers for example, it would be foolish not to make use of their wine pairing expertise. At the end of the day, we are here to feed the charter guests. It's nothing to do with egos or hierarchies in the kitchen. So, all our efforts should be focused on making that plate of food as good as possible, while curating the experience around the food with wine, of course, being a big part of that."
As a professional chef, Jeff always strives to stay on top of the latest culinary trends and incorporate them into his menus. With the increasing number of dietary requirements such as vegan and gluten-free, he tailors his menus to be as comprehensive as possible. "I try to keep gluten to a minimum and make sure that at least 50% of the entrees, mains, and desserts are gluten-free and vegan-friendly to cover all bases. Of course, we are pre-warned about any specific dietary requirements, but I keep my menus flexible so I can easily adapt to any unexpected needs. I enjoy the challenge of catering to different preferences. I always aim to make my menus as inclusive as possible, giving everyone a range of exciting and interesting dishes to choose from."
Jeff is a highly skilled and passionate chef who will be working on board the stunning 35m classic Benetti, FREEMONT this charter season. Cruising in the West Mediterranean, his vast experience in the fine dining industry and deep understanding of how to meet clients' exacting tastes make for a formidable pairing of Mediterranean flavours and exquisite execution.
Dedicated to using the freshest ingredients and tailoring his menus to suit the individual needs of charter guests, it's clear Jeff is a true asset to any yacht crew and will continue to deliver inspiring culinary experiences for those chartering FREEMONT this summer.