An Interview with Helen Papamichael, Head of Interior

As one of the leading forces in the yachting recruitment industry, YPI CREW consistently matches the finest candidates to a variety of roles in the yachting industry, placing all manner of crew on vessels of all sizes. Founded in 2002 by Laurence Lewis, YPI CREW has risen in stature to become the go-to recruitment agency in the yachting industry, and is now operated by an extensive team of trained professionals.

One of these trained professionals and an integral cog in the YPI CREW recruitment machine, Helen Papamichael, Head of Interior, has been with YPI Crew since the company was created in 2002. Helen, who is half-French and half-Greek, was born in the UK. After stints in London and Paris, she headed South for the French Riviera and has not looked back since.

Helen’s speciality lies in the recruitment of yachting chefs, in which she has carved a reputation for herself as being the best in the business. She has guided many chefs throughout the course of their careers and has a discernible talent for identifying candidates who have the potential to shine and become sought after chefs at the top of their game.

Nurturing relationships with candidates and clients is one aspect of the job that Helen particularly enjoys:

“It is very rewarding to see the progression in a candidate’s career over the years; I love the diversity and fast pace of work at YPI CREW; there’s never a dull moment!”

Helen kindly obliged to an interview to share her recruitment skills and offer her advice on how to secure a dream job as a chef on a luxury vessel.

Q: What differentiates you as a recruiter from a recruiter in another agency?

A: I am the go-to recruiter for chefs in the industry. I have been recruiting chefs for 14 years and my knowledge of the market is second to none. I know the majority of the chefs and have helped many of them start out on yachts. I also have the memory of an elephant, which is very handy when I need to find a quick solution for our clients!

Q: What are your tips to chefs on how to stand out from the crowd to land a top job?

A: Obviously it’s the chef’s ability to dazzle in the galley and cook up a storm that will ultimately get him or her the job. To get to the interview and trial stage however, I have noticed that the chefs who stand out are those who have invested time in their craft i.e. stages in high end restaurants, courses and keeping abreast of what is fashionable at the moment. An online portfolio of food photos and menu plans are critical and will impress the owner – it never fails. It is easy to create a simple website showcasing the chef’s skills. The link should be on the CV for easy sighting. I always tell my chefs, “snap a few photos of your top dishes before they leave the galley.”

Q: Is it easy for a chef with only onshore based experience to get into the industry?

A: Yes, most of the time this is a prerequisite; a trained chef with reputable restaurant experience is the ideal profile for many of our discerning clients. One of my recent placements involved an Australian chef who was new to the industry – based in Perth, but well-travelled, with a strong restaurant background – and a large private motor yacht cruising in Thailand. Despite him not having any yachting experience, his CV, experience, vibrant personality and references stood out. I put the two in contact with each other and a few weeks later he became sous chef on a superyacht in Asia. I did a lot of work behind the scenes but had actually not met the chef prior to him joining the yacht. One of my skills is being able to recognise a top candidate, from crew chef to executive chef, and our clients know that.

Away from work, when Helen is not cheering on her children at tennis and football matches, she loves reading, going to concerts and catching up on the latest movies.

Keep up to speed with the latest yacht listings from YPI CREW by liking the Facebook page. If you would like any advice on gaining a position on a yacht, please contact the dedicated team at YPI CREW. For further information, visit the YPI CREW “Crew Advice‘ webpage.