From Kitchen Contests to Oceanic Feasts

From Kitchen Contests to Oceanic Feasts

Join us for a captivating two part exchange with Michael Hobbins, the visionary superyacht chef intriguing both yacht owners and crew alike.

This blog post unveils his epicurean odyssey, blending Master Chef mettle with the luxury of yacht life. Michael's fervour for sustainability and authentic cooking is contributing to a new future for yacht cuisine.

Here, passion meets plate, innovation meets tradition, and every aspiring chef can find inspiration.



Q: Could you share the moment or experience that ignited your passion for cooking and led you on the path to becoming a celebrated superyacht chef?

A: "Oh, that’s a wee bonnie fire pit that’s still ignited in me still today!! The love for cooking and being at sea became a natural process of learning. Little did I know I was living a journey of an unknown lifestyle with fast paced decision making, risk taking and adrenaline to achieve success.

My professional cooking started when I was 15 and I was mentored well from the early stages of my career, learning the discipline and respect to achieve the best dishes. This discipline was not only towards food, but towards everyone around us chefs and even towards how we presented ourselves to be clean, tidy and efficient.

I was due to go to Sea in Scotland at the age of 17 on the Hebrides Princess and at the same time, about to become a father. Without question, like any man would do, I chose to stay in Scotland and raise my son with his mother. Whilst undertaking young fatherhood, I embarked on my culinary career across Scotland, working alongside a pedigree of culinary ambassadors of our country.

I worked alongside the UK’s best chefs at the time, before I undertook my first Head Chef post at 26 in the Trossachs. This preceded another comforting dream of accolades and awards, celebrating my achievements for hard work and loyalty to the job.

As the saying goes the rest is history”. 

Q: Participating in UK Master Chef is a dream for many. Can you tell us about one challenge or moment during the competition that you believe was pivotal in shaping your culinary approach?
A: "Haha ….wow that’s a past experience in my career I’m never able to forget, or should I say, allowed to forget. I laugh out loud as I remember it clear as day!
The most challenging was a simple Chef's test, as I felt the pressure of the UK’s most influential chefs standing and watching my every move. 
Chef Monica was checking out my set up and without any pre-warning said,  "so how are you going to impress us and millions of viewers young man?" (chuckles).  I remember Michel Roux standing with his mode of approval, as I had made sure my apron was tightened and sleeves folded enough to still see the ironed press in them.
I had only 15mins to make my creation ... and yes, I was proud of myself as I fitted in the one inch trim stemmed Asparagus, while taking out the fine spears gently, all while trying to stay composed.
And then... I  had whisks dropping, pans and tasting spoons flying absolute nightmare...with the gas stoves and hollandaise dropping too ( laughs at the memory). I got there and passed the test with minutes to tidy myself up and went all the way to the semi-finals.

"After that, composure was my new asset." 



Q: Every chef has a signature dish that tells a story. What's yours, and what makes it a reflection of your culinary philosophy?

A: "This is interesting as I can never say one dish as I have so many outstanding dishes I’ve created and been proud of. From foraging and hunting, to being at sea whilst sailing across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, we would catch mahi mahi and tuna.

As a first course or fish course category, my signature dish at the moment (bursts into chuckles) has to be...

Hand dived Scottish scallops, fermented wet garlic, charred cauliflower truffle & wild wood sorrel. 

This dish is special, as every ingredient plays a specific role in the dynamic flavour and texture on the plate.  That and the fact that it gives me memories of joy from the wild wood sorrel being foraged with my son, Connor, in his youth and remembering him saying “Mmmm tastes like apple, yum!”  He would then go on to collecting wild garlic and pignuts. 

The scallops from Scotland being hand dived, the nurturing of all ingredients in preparation at the right time of season and the way I naturally plate in my own uniquely abstract style, create something that is beyond special. I also celebrate the produce with the understanding and respect for the hard work all my suppliers did to bring these products to life."


Q: Cooking on a superyacht presents unique challenges and rewards. Could you describe your most memorable meal prepared aboard, and what made it unforgettable?

A: "Yes indeed, hard work pays off for sure. the most memorable meal ?!…. Haha They’re a few. If I could choose one, it would have to be whilst onboard a 60m working alongside an outstanding interior and deck team. 

I cooked with the Boss’s chef, whose heritage is Chinese. I was to learn the authentic dishes the chef liked and how to cook dishes the Boss and family enjoyed the most. It was also fun to learn how to cook in a different language whilst at high sea conditions in the Caribbean. Deep down I was wishing for the worst of the safest weather conditions, just to get the adrenaline going ( bursts out laughing).

I was taught sashimi of native lobster served like a sculpture and presented exactly how the Boss liked it, alongside mahi mahi prepared and sliced to his exact specifications. This was followed by other outstanding dishes of cod and black bean sauce, traditional rice based soups and noodle dishes that blew my tastebuds to intriguing lengths of flavour. Now, just imagine following this with bursts of uniami and then raw seaweed. 

 "That, for me, was rewarding enough."

Then I was invited to cook at the restaurant that the Boss owned to learn more and also as gratitude for being his new chef onboard. After all, the yacht was for his family and guests, a home away from home."


Q:  Being recognized by prestigious publications like the Robb Report is no small feat. What accomplishment in your career are you most proud of, and what does it signify for you personally?

A: "Yes being recognised by one of the most prestigious food, hospitality and lifestyle magazines in the world is pretty cool. I still pinch myself most days at my achievements and think it’s still a dream or something deliriously similar. Personally it signifies my achievements of commitment, loyalty and hard work without question, and of what it takes to achieve those goals by hitting the brief on point,  all whilst juggling unexpected curve balls at any moment.  

 I’m most proud of a few moments and still continue to be amazed at what I can accomplish, such as building teams around me at short notice or the likes.

Without thinking of things too much, I see challenges as a quest to survive and becoming better at what I do for a lifetime.  I nurture my experience to go on to the other challenges of living the outstanding diversity of our fast-paced economical world."


You won't want to miss the next chapter in his extraordinary journey.  Read the rest of Chef Michael's engaging interview in Part 2.

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