The early days
Danny Davies, 42, is living life to the full life and his career is like no other. The chef grew up in single parent family in Derby with his three sisters and took the first step towards his incredible career by pot washing in the local pub where his mum worked. The landlady would get Danny more involved and would ask him to get stuck in and peel potatoes and carrots in the kitchen. “I just felt like I belonged and I that could make a difference… I felt like I could achieve things in a kitchen”, says Danny.
Thrown in the deep end
After high school, Danny enrolled straight into a local culinary college and completed an NVQ in level 1 and 2. As luck would have it, a Italian restaurant called La Villa had a job opening. He took the leap and at just 18 years old he was appointed head chef. Being so young and with little experience, chef Danny was thrown in the deep end, but he handled it well and just rode the wave.
“I was a little naïve, I thought I was the next Gordon Ramsay. It was hard to deal with and everyone was Italian so I had to adapt to that, but it was good- I really enjoyed it”
Serving his country
After spending a year at La Villa, Danny pursued his childhood dream of joining the army. And because his love for cooking, of course, he wanted to join as a chef. Danny served in the British army for almost 10 years, and caught the travel bug. He got to work all over the world, cooking for fellow soldiers as well as, heads of state and royal families. In his final year of service, he became Corporal Davies and was the royal chef for Prince Harry and Prince William.
The desire to travel the world
In 2007, Chef Danny made the move to an island in Fiji to work as a dive master and chef in the evening. Fiji is known as tranquil oasis, a green and blue paradise where Danny and his wife were lucky to enough to live out there days, before relocating to another breath-taking country; New Zealand. Here, the pair took a lease on a pizzeria and basked in the wanderlust. Then returning back to Fiji to buy some land to start an eco-resort with some friends. Which unfortunately, didn’t work out as well as they’d hoped. Nevertheless, the urge to travel the world still ran strong in both their veins and the couple started their new life in Florida. Danny worked as a chef for an award winning events and wedding venue, alongside Chef Patrick Duffy.
After two years, ‘chef Danny’ became ‘chef lecturer Danny’ at West Kent College and then at Bromley College as executive chef lecturer. “It was my students as a chef lecturer who inspired me the most. For 7 years, seeing those students with passion coming through, those are really the ones who inspire me, and drive me to do what I do.” Although Danny loved teaching, his restlessness pushed him to move back to Florida. After working in prestigious places and being a chef and restaurant consultant, Danny, still consumed by wanderlust, choose to become a super yacht chef, he works and lives mostly, in non-other, than the Bahamas.
“I just love the travel and the people, I get to see some beautiful places. I’d look out my window and see turtles and sharks. It’s amazing. It doesn’t feel like I grind at all, I really love what I do” “Yachting is a completely different world, it is so amazing, money is no object at all, my boss if he wants me, I can be picked up on a private jet.”
Michelle Obama and baking cookies
The proudest moment for Chef Danny was cooking for Michelle Obama, and found this a really special honour. “She came on the boat twice and the second she came back we all lined up and welcomed her on board and she shook my hand and asked for another of my cookies I’d made her. She said she’d been waiting so long to taste them again, it made me feel so proud that someone like that, remembered me for my cookies.” You can’t get a better compliment than from Mrs Obama herself.
The salary and tips also make the job so endearing. Danny explains how his friend, an ex-stewardess, has retired at just 40 years old. She worked on the boats for 9 years and invested a lot of her saved money in an app, and now, doesn’t need to work anymore.
“It’s crazy, who’s a waitress at that age and doesn’t have to work anymore?” he questions.
The other side to yachting
But of course, this luxury comes with a price, because with yachting there is a huge amount of pressure. As Danny explains, on smaller boats, say a 50 meter, you can be a the only chef on there. Cooking for guests and crew; breakfast, lunch and dinner and the odd grilled cheese at 2 in the morning.
“You also need to know all the disciplines: you have got to be a pastry chef, be able to bake, make bread, everything. From soup to spag bol to understanding foie gras and truffles” he admits. “… and if they don’t like what’s on the menu, you have to be able to change it any minute.”
How to set sail and get into yachting?
To take your first into the world of yachting, Danny recommends to first and foremost, complete your STCW, which is typically a 5 day course costing around £1000. It covers seafarer training, including: first aid, fire-fighting and survival skills at sea. Then he suggests to ‘hustle’ and take what you can get to begin and build your experience.
“A friend of mine said to get an Instagram account for the yachts and post pictures of food as all the captains are looking for that now. That helped me have a presence and connect with people. Also, Facebook groups helped me into the industry. And networking, it is a really small industry, everybody knows everybody in yachting.”
Words and wisdom
Chef Danny says, as an individual you have to have the discipline to look after yourself and mental health. As ‘yachtie’ life can be a bit crazy at times. Danny ensures that it is nothing like Below Deck- that is just a reality show.
“I think in catering too or in a restaurant, chefs can neglect their body and mind, so like having a beer after work or whatever people do to destress, but in the yachting industry it’s like times 10, everyone’s got loads of money and the champagnes available.”
Chef Danny’s two daughters share their love of food with their Dad. They’re already learning how to prepare sushi and cook for the family. While, being a private yacht chef, Danny enjoys the best of both worlds; travelling, as well as spending quality time at home. He suggests, “I live a quite normal life I supposed… the longest I’ve been at sea was 3 months, it’s always been a few weeks here and there.” But for Danny, there’s a bigger world out there and far more to see and urges our readers to ‘watch this space’ to follow his future adventures, wherever the wind may take him.