Meet the crew – Taunnee Fourie, Chef aboard MY SASTA

Interview by Melanie Winters

Interview by Melanie Winters

Taunnee took a longer route into yachting than many, but this is much like everything in her life, where she has taken a leisurely swim upstream, making her own way in her own time. As is so true with most things in life, little has been straight forward, but that’s okay for her as it has added to her story, whether through the people she has met or the experiences she has gone through. 

Taunnee comes from a small industrial town in South Africa, one that most haven’t even heard of. It has a fabulous, tight-knit family community, however Taunnee knew there was a big wide world out there to explore.  

Taunnee’s incredible lust for adventure has meant she’s never one to shy away from the new. “I love exploring different places, eating the local cuisines – however weird and wonderful – and immersing myself in different cultures,” begins Taunnee. “I always try to live in the moment, to be present in the now, and appreciate what I have when I have it,” says Taunnee. And the reason? Because life is fallible. 

Taunnee has spent the last 13 years in the hospitality industry. From waitress to restaurant manager to 5-star hotel testaurant hostess and 4-star guest house manager, Taunnee has done it all. “I studied Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts, and I also did a season in a French chateau,” explains Taunnee. This experience inevitably opened doors for her, presenting new experiences and opportunities.

Taunnee got into yachting through a friend. “They were working with a company that had a fleet of yachts, and they were looking for a cook/stew,” says Taunnee. “They knew I was eager to get my foot in the door and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Taunnee enjoys being on the water and has visited many isolated and remote locations that many can only dream of seeing. She remembers fondly, the crossing from Indonesia to Australia and, during one of her graveyard watches, a night sky that was so clear that it seemed like they were sailing through the stars. “At the same time, I could see the bioluminescence in the water,” says Taunnee. “I shone a spotlight on the ocean and large jellyfish became illuminated. It was such a phenomenal experience and something many people never see, and yet here I was witnessing it. It’s these moments that make it all worthwhile!”

I was interested to know what she considers the worst parts of working on-board a yacht. One of the negatives for her, is the fact there is no personal privacy, which often happens when the crew share a small and restrictive space. “I’ve had to spend long bouts of time on the vessel without a day off or ability to step ashore,” Taunnee tells me, and this can be tough at times.  

It’s all go in the galley, so how does she keep sane on charters? Taunnee laughs, “Anything that I would normally do to keep sane, is hard to do due to the long hours. If time allows, I step out in the morning and sit on the flybridge, take in the air and the view.” Taunnee says that being able to play her own music in the galley and singing along to that is another trick. “It also helps to have crew that have a good sense of humour – it helps lighten the mood when sanity is wearing thin!” 

Taunnee believes it’s important to pull out all the stops when it comes to spoiling your guests. Listening and paying attention to small ques from their stories or comments, “Sometimes guests will mention items, experiences or flavours they favour, and I try to build on that. It’s the small things that make the biggest impression!” 

Taunnee’s pet hate on-board (and everyone has one) is crew not cleaning up after themselves and not putting things back in the correct place. She lives by the moto: There is a place for everything, and everything has a place! 

I love hearing about people’s travels and adventures, so wanted to know what her favourite destination was. “I haven’t been to that many” she says, “but if I had to choose, I love a bit of a wilderness and for this, Raja Ampat in Indonesia is memorable for me. It also had amazing diving sites.” 

Taunnee’s bucket list is long…and ranges from visiting the green planes of Ireland, to the moving skies of the Aurora Borealis and the cobbled streets of Dubrovnik. Not forgetting places in her home country, “There are plenty of small gems of towns and villages in South Africa that I would like to see. I think that’s a common habit many do, they don’t really explore places from their home because they think they’ll do it later…but sometimes later just doesn’t happen!”

There are many great things to do on Mallorca, and Taunnee tells me she loves exploring the island in her downtime. Whether it’s taking a drive to a new town or spending the day at a new beach, (there are 262 beaches in Mallorca so she has her pick!), there is always something exciting to do and somewhere different to go, she says.

Taunee has achieved a lot in her career but what is she proud of the most? “I don’t think there is one singular achievement that makes me most proud, each milestone that I have met with success on my journey has made me proud. I look at how far I have come – most things I have accomplished were mere thoughts or dreams once and now a reality. Whether big or small the sense of fulfilment that comes from each achievement propels me forward onto the next step.”

And finally, I wanted to know what advice she would offer anyone wanting to join this weird and wonderful world of yachting? “Be prepared for long hours, know and be comfortable with who you are even when you feel like you are alone. Know your limits and never be shy to ask questions. It’s easier to teach someone who doesn’t know than it is to correct a mistake of someone who thinks they know best.” 


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