Chef Simon Phillips
M/Y Double Down A chef and a master sommelier serve up the perfect pairings.
‘Peanut butter, olive oil, flour, egg and a sprinkle of chamomile,” says Simon Phillips, head chef aboard the 213-foot (65-meter) Codecasa Double Down, as he describes a recipe for dog biscuits.
He and his wife, Ceri, are devoted to their black Labrador retriever, Bentley, and on a fluke created healthy snacks for him. The concept burgeoned into a business. Ceri, who also used to work on yachts, returned to the couple’s home in Cape Town, South Africa, and established From the Barkery, which sells gourmet treats for dogs, cats and horses, along with things like edible birthday cards and cakes with healthy ingredients. Chamomile is for calming, blueberries are for antioxidants, and so forth. Customers come from as far afield as Amsterdam and Hollywood.
Meanwhile, Phillips is aboard Double Down, continuing the vocation he’s embraced since he worked odd jobs in restaurants during and after high school in Cape Town.
“I worked in a massive restaurant in Germany washing dishes for 700 people a day,” he says, explaining how he got his start.
During compulsory military service in South Africa, he was assigned to the cooking detail. Then he earned a chef’s diploma and interned at the Peninsula All-Suite Hotel in Cape Town. The head chef there learned that Phillips spoke French (his father was a French professor, and his mother worked for Air France). Guest chef Christian Etienne hired Phillips for his restaurant in Avignon, France.
Through friends of friends, in 1995, Phillips landed a yacht chef job. Since then, he’s worked on boats as well as owned and operated South African establishments including a sports bar and a restaurant in a game reserve. He’s cooked aboard the 290-foot (88.5-meter) Oceanco Nirvana and the 208-foot (64-meter) Benetti Lionheart.
Phillips is experienced in styles of cooking that range from classical French to Mediterranean to Asian fusion and Middle Eastern. When cooking for a group of friends, he says, “I simply throw different things on the barbecue—springbok, octopus, ostrich, fish and veggies—and serve them immediately as they come off the grill.”
Phillips has been aboard Double Down for more than a year. He says the owners are interested in healthy cuisine, often preferring a robust lunch to a heavy, late dinner. With charter guests, he adapts; one celebrity guest had the galley going 24/7 as some people in the party maintained a daytime schedule while others worked, filmed and recorded all night.
Phillips shrugs and takes it all in stride. He has a personality akin to his Labrador, Bentley: friendly, eager and game for anything.
For charter information: Thompson Westwood White Yachts, twwyachts.com, or any charter broker