Grace Defornik spent her twenties cooking on board luxury yachts in the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and the United States, preparing meals for the wealthy elite who make up 1% of the world’s population. She mastered the art of cooking extravagant meals in often tight kitchen spaces. Recently, Defornik expanded her horizons to include cooking on private jets for business travelers.
Preparing meals on private jets means working in smaller spaces, with clients often in the air for just a couple of hours but still desiring an elegant dining experience during that time. Whether on land, sea, or in the air, Defornik told CNN that she enjoys living in the face of challenges, finding her dream job, as she loves cooking, traveling, and adventure. She said, “It’s truly a fun experience.”
Falling in Love with Sailing
During her upbringing, Defornik enjoyed cooking with her grandparents in her hometown in Florida, USA, but she stumbled upon becoming a chef by chance. She tried sailing after graduating from college with a degree in theater and art in 2015, stating, “I was just looking for an adventure, something different to do, especially during that summer after graduating, and I spontaneously applied for a job on a traditional sailboat.”
Defornik worked as a deckhand and, after finishing her duties on board the boat, she would head to the galley to assist the chef. When her contract ended, she began searching for a job in the yacht industry to explore the world and earn a good salary. Uncertain if she would be hired due to her lack of experience on yachts, she applied for the position anyway and was eventually hired as a chef on a 64-foot sailing yacht.
Since then, Defornik has received formal training at Ashburton Chefs Academy in the UK and the Culinary Institute of Canada. She explained, “The longer I worked in the yachting industry, the more I made a name for myself.”
Life Inside the Galley
Whether cooking on land, at sea, or in the air, Defornik always starts by familiarizing herself with her clients’ preferences and dietary requirements. She prepares the galley according to the guests’ food preferences but also ensures to bring additional products in case of unexpected requests. Defornik explained, “Even if someone says they don’t want desserts, I always make sure to have ice cream or some kind of chocolate on board.”
Some clients have had peculiar requests, including not cooking green beans on Thursdays or not serving pineapple in the morning. Defornik has been asked by a client to prepare barbecue meat without any grill marks, and she has also accommodated the needs of clients’ children and their pets.
Up in the Air
Defornik ventured into private aviation last year, encouraged by some of her friends. Unlike yachts, she is usually the only staff member on board the aircraft alongside other pilots. In that role, Defornik works as a flight attendant and a lead cabin crew member, ensuring a luxurious and comfortable experience for the passengers.
Working on yachts and private jets has allowed Defornik to combine her passion for cooking with her love for travel and adventure. She continues to create unforgettable dining experiences for her clients, adapting to their requests and exceeding their expectations in the sky, on land, or at sea.