Stewardess of the Month
Michelle Simionato grew up in Melbourne, Austrailia, and until four years ago she didn’t even know her port from her starboard.
“ I ended up in yachting completely by accident, ” she said. “ I came over to Europe with the intention of following the Aussie cliché of working for two years in London, making some money, and going back home to ‘grow up.’ But the thought of missing an Australian summer for a London winter seemed unbearable, so I decided to go to France and do a ski season. It was there that I meet my first group of yachties, who worked on yachts in the summer and snowboarded during the winter. I remember thinking that that was such an amazing lifestyle, and London would always be there…so as the snow melted, we decided that Antibes was the next stop. A few weeks later I landed my first job and haven’t looked back. ”
In the last four years, Simionato has climbed to a chief stew position, and she holds an impressive resume on both sailing and motoryachts from all over the world. Most recently, she worked on S/Y Barracuda, a 50-meter Perini Navi, which she helped outfit for its maiden voyage. For the last six months, she has been off the water, traveling with her boyfriend, Ryan, through Singapore and Malaysia, and ending with a visit to her family and friends in Australia. But now, she’s back on the yachting scene and ready for her next dream job.
So we asked her, what would be your next dream job?
“ At the moment, I’m looking for work with Ryan, an engineer, so I guess a dream job would be an amazing opportunity for both of us. I would love to do another build, like I did with Barracuda. Most people think I’m crazy when I say that, but I think it’s such a great way to learn a little more about the guts of what you do and see things from a different perspective. ”
You haven’t been in the industry for very long, but you’ve climbed pretty quickly to chief stew, with a promotion every time you’ve changed boats. What’s your secret to success?
“ When I first started on boats, I was so amazed and overwhelmed by everything. But I loved the work and the lifestyle. I used every person and situation as a learning tool. It’s quite amazing what you can learn from sitting on the sidelines and watching people interact. I had clear goals in my mind of what I wanted in the future and always made them known. Also, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing people who were more than willing to teach me everything. I also say thanks to my very good friend and last chief stew for enrolling me in the best school! ”
Even before getting on yachts, you seem to have traveled quite a bit. What sparked this sense of adventure?
“ I remember exactly when I first decided to travel. After seeing a movie with one of my friends at uni (university), we decided that life was somewhat monotonous and we needed an adventure. Her brother had just come back from America with amazing tales from what sounded like a dream ski season. We decided then that for the end of the year break we would do something like her brother had done! I had always wanted to travel, but being a uni student and working as a ‘check out chick,’ I had no spare money. So a working holiday was ideal! And of course, you can never see enough of the world! ”
You have a lot of chef and food preparation jobs on your resume. Did you go to culinary school?
“ No, I don’t have any formal training, but I do come from a long line of amazing Italian Nona’s who still make the best food I have ever eaten! I worked with an amazing chef who taught me immeasurable amounts of information, so I have a lot of respect for chefs. It’s a very demanding job! ”
What has been your favorite boat to work on so far?
“ I have fond memories of all the boats I’ve worked on. Barracuda was like seeing a child take its first steps, as I was there for the build. You sort of feel as though you leave a stamp on the boat. I think more importantly than having a favorite boat, I have great friendships, and those you can take everywhere. ”
What do you love most about your career?
“ The spontaneity of it all. We all know that owners are unable to make a decision, and I love that their indecisiveness means more adventure for the crew. I love pulling into port with boats full of your friends and instantly knowing that it’s going to be a great few days. I love wandering around and discovering that tiny little town that most people would drive right though; being able to sample different food from different places. Most importantly, though, I think the ability to talk to the people who rule the world is a tool which everyone can take away and use in future. It’s quite rare to have such close interaction with your boss! ”
Stewardess of the Month