Monday, Jun 18, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Dan Neman


The young man and the sea

Penta graduate, Jonmorgan Smith, is sous chef on 168' yacht, 'Legend.'



Life is difficult for Jonmorgan Smith.

The hours are long. The conditions are cramped. And then there was that one bout of seasickness.

Of course, when the 20-year-old from Waterville responded to our questions by email, he happened to be in Sweden, having recently arrived there from Copenhagen, Denmark. In the last four months, he has already been to Spain, Finland, Russia, England, and Portugal. In the next couple of months, he’ll be hitting Norway, Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and Gibraltar. In November, it’s off to the Caribbean.

And all the time, he will be traveling in style.

Style, as in a 168-foot, $30 million yacht. Smith, who took culinary arts classes at the Penta Career Center and graduated earlier this year from the Culinary Institute of America, is the sous chef on the yacht Legend, working as part of the 14-member crew.

In other words, he has the dream job to end all dream jobs. So what if the work is hard?

Even though he spends much of his time away from the fine carpets, the mahogany trim, the granite accents, the Jacuzzi, and the French and English furniture, he still gets to see the world while doing what he loves, cooking.

And when he gets off the boat, “I have had the pleasure of … going to some of the best, freshest markets I have ever seen in my life. I even had fresh oysters and fresh sushi while drinking an incredible glass [of] Moscato at 9 a.m. in Olivar Market while in Palma de Mallorca,” he wrote.

While in Copenhagen, he dined at Geranium, a restaurant that has earned two coveted Michelin stars and has recently been named the 45th best restaurant in the world (“the food’s texture, aroma, acidity, flavor, color, and the use of fresh, local ingredients were exquisite,” he wrote). And when he got a chance to peek inside the fabled restaurant’s neat, ordered, and spotlessly clean kitchen, “it really motivated me to be like that on the boat.”

The boat’s galley is the size of a small house kitchen, just enough room for the executive chef and himself to crank out as many as nine meals a day for the on-board guests and crew, and then do all the cleaning up as well.

“So far, I am learning what it’s like to cook on a yacht while being at sea. Everything is moving around and I am just trying to keep my balance and cook at the same time — something I never had to deal with on land. Taping everything to the wall or ground also helps,” he wrote.

The yacht is privately owned, and he is not at liberty to identify the owner, other than to say he is an American businessman. As a diner, the owner is easygoing and likes to change up the menu on occasion. His favorite foods are spaghetti bolognese, flat-bread pizzas, and Caprese salads, but the chefs like to throw in what Smith called the occasional curve ball; recently, they had a Japanese night with sushi, tempura, and other Japanese food.

But it isn’t just the owner who uses the yacht, he also rents it out as a charter to anyone who can afford the per-week cost of 185,000 euros (at the moment, that is about $245,000). Again, privacy restrictions keep him from naming people who have rented it, but he said the list includes celebrities, businessmen and women, actors and musicians. When the boat is being chartered, of course the cooks cater to those guests’ culinary desires and needs.

Even though the yacht is luxurious, “living on a boat can have its ups and downs. It’s like the freaking United Nations living all in one area. We have six different nationalities with all different political- and life-views, which makes for unique conversation at the dinner table: Russian, Danish, British, Czech, Australian, and American. I live with two other guys in our small little coffin of a room. It’s just like being at college and having to share everything with your roommates.”

But it can’t be too bad. If he ever leaves this job, he wrote, “I plan on moving to a bigger boat.”


Contact Daniel Neman at 
or 419-724-6155.

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