Meet AQUILA's head chef.

Published 12 April 2021

Chef Willy Pastel

Chef Willy Pastel

Chef Willy grew up in France where he developed a passion for cooking traditional and gourmet cuisine. He has worked and gained invaluable experience in prestigious restaurants from Paris to St Barth - Plaza Athénée, Eden Roc, Isle de France, and Nikki Beach Saint-Tropez to name a few. From using local and seasonal produce, Willy finds a tremendous amount of inspiration and creativity that adds to his culinary repertoire, especially fusion and Mediterranean cuisines. 

Since embarking on life at sea he has travelled to the Caribbean, Asia, USA, Middle East and Europe, always continuing to learn and capture new recipes wherever he goes. When he does leave the galley, he enjoys travelling and exploring the local areas, wherever he may be.

When, how and why did you become a superyacht chef?

Before moving into yachting I worked in luxury hotels and restaurants all around the world so I already had this passion for travel. This is how I discovered the yachting industry. I was 22 years old when I met a friend who was working on a yacht in St Maarten and I said to myself 'I want to be a yacht chef to cook the best products on the planet for famous people.' I began researching how to become a yacht chef and went back to the South of France to do my STCW 95 and started walking the docks. 

I got my first job in Cannes on a 30m (100ft) motor yacht then my goal became to work on bigger and bigger yachts. Now, after 10 years, I’m a really happy yacht chef on board AQUILA.

Chef Willy Pastel

Why do you prefer this role over life ashore in a restaurant?

Because I can work with the world's highest quality produce and I always have the chance to find new ingredients as we are travelling in many different places all the time. I like to wake up in a new port every morning and go shopping in the local market. Everyday is different and there is no routine. 

What is the biggest challenge you face as a superyacht chef?

Feeding the crew - lol! The biggest challenge is to make everyone happy with your food and to do this you need fresh produce. Provisioning can become difficult in some areas but I always adapt with what I can find.

Which chefs inspire you most and why?

I worked with Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée in Paris and I always add inspiration from this experience to my cuisine. 

There is a bit of every chef I have ever worked with in what I prepare. I've learned something from every single person I worked with, even from my crew chef. 

What is your favourite cruising ground for produce?

As a French chef I like to cruise in the Med, the South of France, Italy and the Spanish islands.

What is the best produce you've found in the various places you've visited?

I love France and Italy for the fresh seafood, cheese, herbs, olive oil and many delicate products. It's the USA, Japan and Australia for the meat especially the beef. The UK for trendy food and all the new dry products. The Bahamas for the conch and spices. Thailand for exotic fruits and vegetables.

Chef Willy Pastel

What do you do to relax?

It depends on the season but there's nothing better than a relaxing day on the beach with a book or skiing in the mountains.

Chef Willy Pastel

Do you cook at home and what are your favourite dishes?

At home I cook when I have friends and family visiting. I like to prepare whole seabass or beef ribs on the BBQ, fresh pasta and healthy salads. Otherwise I’m always out or I order something. I like going to restaurant to get new ideas. 

Which comfort foods are you most frequently asked to prepare?

Chicken curry or Mexican tacos. 

What is your favourite take-out food?

I like Japanese traditional food and sushi. 

Share one tip for becoming a successful superyacht chef.

You always need to be ready to adapt to the guests' requests and understand their tastes. 

Name five must-have herbs and spices.

Cilantro, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, parsley. 


Packed with award winning class, AQUILA offers you a private master deck, cinema, spa with two massage rooms, elevator and a sea level beach club. Celebrate on the party deck complete with DJ station, nightclub AV system, light show and smoke machine. And the dining is just exquisite! From USD 945,000 per week.

To find out more about Burgess’ yachts for charter and yachts for sale, please contact a Burgess broker. Alternatively, get in touch with one of our offices directly: LondonMonacoNew YorkMiamiSingapore or all other locations.

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