MEET the Irish chef ready to soar to fix dinner disasters aboard some of the world’s most breathtaking superyachts.
Melissa Phair has carved out a place for herself as a high-end problem-solver when things go awry for the rich and famous.
When the call comes in, Co Fermanagh’s wife drives to the nearest airport to the yacht, is picked up and brought on board.
It’s all part of the service offered by the experienced chef who has cooked for some of Hollywood’s biggest names.
But now the 35-year-old is looking to ditch the apron after launching her own sustainable fashion label inspired by her 12 years on the ocean waves.
Maths graduate Melissa, who had trained as a cocktail mixer, found herself with a crew position on a yacht after her skills were spotted while working in the French Alps.
From there, after training at Dublin’s Lynda Booth Cookery School, she worked on a host of high-end vessels.
She has created dishes for the Saudi Royal Family and Eric Clapton among many household names.
But, she says, it hasn’t all been as “glamorous as it sounds.”
She said: ‘I’ve worked 21 hour days for maybe ten days in a row so these are not the good times.
“But I wouldn’t change that for the world.”
Recently, the Enniskillen woman took a back seat to work on her ‘frequent traveler capsule’ fashion range.
This has led to lucrative consulting job offers where she is called upon to “steal when the chef has messed up or there’s a bit of a panic or the guests don’t like the chef’s food and things like that. “.
She told the Irish Sun: “So I fly as an emergency manager. I can choose where I want to go and who I want to work for so that’s fine.
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This summer, Melissa arrived when an event aboard a yacht off the coast of Cannes, in the south of France, went awry.
She said ‘the Queen of Hollywood was a guest’ at the time, although the Irishwoman signed a nondisclosure agreement – one of many in her career – prohibiting her from discussing clients or clients. ‘guests.
She told us: “There had been two chefs and both had had the Covid.
“I took a sous chef with me and flew away. I arrived and the place was an absolute wreck, the boat was dirty and disorganized.
“Normally you would arrive before the guests and prepare as much as possible, but we arrived late and were going blind.
“That’s why these jobs are tough, because if you don’t have the experience, you can’t just go for what they ask for.
“You’re expected to come in and basically put out a few fires.”
‘I WAS JUST BLOWN’
Her staff and freelance positions have taken her around the world, often to places that have stimulated her creativity.
Melissa said: “Japan was an amazing experience. Just the culture shock was amazing.
“I had seen most of the world by the time I saw Japan, but I was blown away because it was absolutely stunning.”
Often trips, such as a 15-day test trip between Germany and Iceland, could get “a bit rocky” with the wind pounding the boat on the high seas.
She said, “You just have to take seasickness pills and make sure you have enough food prepared.
“In situations like this you’ll need things like lasagna, simple stuff, not a lot of fish so you don’t get stuck making food.”
HIGHS AND LOWS
She said she has worked on all kinds of yachts “from 45 meters with around 11 crew to 115 meters with 50 crew.
“The 115 meters was the private property of a billionaire.”
Other highlights include attending the Monaco Grand Prix and receiving a €15,000 helicopter ride in Iceland, which included a thrilling drop into a volcano.
Melissa added: “And I was able to party in Miami, go to luxury islands in the Caribbean where there was no one else, go out on a jet ski, go scuba diving.
“The good days were the highest of the highs but the bad days, the 9 p.m. days, were the lowest of the lows.
ECO-CONSCIOUS FASHION BRAND
“It was very high end and I have a lot of NDAs so I can’t name names.
“But it’s really the Hollywood A List, everyone who is prominent in the news and on Instagram daily.”
Melissa said she was now “ready for a new adventure”.
She started talking about her career to date on TikTok and working on her dream of running an “eco-conscious fashion brand”.
She said, “I didn’t want to add to the fast fashion environment that we’re mostly consumed in.
“I think it’s important that we realize the damage we are causing to the environment with the demand for fast fashion.”
The PHAIR brand was launched globally via its website and exclusively with Wolf and Badger, a leading sustainable marketplace.
She said, “I love the clothes. I love all of them.
“Planning outfits, matching key pieces, patterns, color palettes and – as a woman who has always been generously endowed in the bust area – selecting well-fitting pieces based on my body type. I love everything .”
She added, “I wanted to create durable, timeless pieces that can be worn over and over again.”