After 14 months of staying at home, the idea of sailing on a super yacht through the pristine waters of Croatia sounds more like a dream than something people are actually able to do anymore. Luckily, for viewers of Below Deck Sailing Yacht, captain Glenn Shepard and his high-spirited crew–and occasionally demanding guests–have made that dream turn into a reality every Monday night on Slice.
Shepard has been the cool and charismatic captain of the super yacht sailboat Parsifal III, which has been the set of the Below Deck Sailing Yacht franchise since its inaugural season in 2020. He has quickly become a favourite in the Below Deck fandom for his easy-going nature and calm-under-pressure attitude.
Originally from Montreal, Shepard now calls sunny Palma de Mallorca home...and I am very jealous. I caught up with the captain to discuss what it’s really like for his team to serve food and drinks on open waters and, of course, some of his favourite Canadian foods.
This current season must have been intense to film. Did you notice that the dynamic was different between the staff on the boat because the pandemic didn't allow the team for many off-site meals, drinks or experiences?
Yeah, definitely. I mean it had an effect, but I think that the team dealt with it really well. You know, we just had to.
They had to have their own fun as much as possible on the boat. I made an effort to stay out of their hair and let them have the run of the boat on the nights in-between charters so that they could blow off a little steam.
That's really important, to be able to recharge the batteries and get ready for the next one.
Food service seems a lot more difficult on Sailing Yacht compared to the other Below Deck shows. How often does the boat tilting cause trouble for the interior staff when you're sailing?
Well, the bar is not too bad because you can just hand the drinks to the guests, you know? The interior is very good at making drinks and stuff like that, but cooking is a whole different story.
Obviously, sometimes you know hours beforehand so it's always a little bit of a battle between the guests who have an expectation for this amazing meal at the end of a long day of sailing and I have to come manage it.
I want to give the guests as much sailing as possible. For the chef there's some things they can prep while sailing and other things that they can't. So that's always a challenge but we just make it work.
I had one charter that wasn't on the show where we actually sailed all the way across the Atlantic with guests on board. And you know also that was like all meals served in bowls. I mean they loved it and that's all they wanted to do, but it just depends on the situation. You just do your best.
It seems like sometimes the most dramatic moments are the preference sheet meetings and as a die-hard Below Deck fan I'm dying to know, if you were going on as a guest, what is the one meal and drink you would have on your preference sheet?
That’s a great question. I’m not much of a gourmand or you know, I'm very down to earth, really basic...I'm like a ribs and pizza kinda guy.
I grew up in Montreal–and you may have never heard of [this place]–but there was a rib place in Montreal called Barbie Barn and I used to love going there. I would definitely want ribs...and I love pizza.
I prefer Italian and Singapore-style pizza over North American pizza, so I would probably have that on my list. What else? French onion soup, bagels...that’s all the stuff I would want. Also a nice steak and pepper sauce with fries or a gold old fashioned smoked meat sandwich would be amazing. I don’t get that very often in Europe.
And what's the one must-have drink you request to have on board?
I'm not much of a hard alcohol person. I like margaritas and daiquiris and stuff like that. I like umbrella drinks, you know, I don't drink that much. What else? Kahlua or Baileys on the rocks or maybe a mudslide. I don't do whiskey or anything. I'm just like when I'm in the Caribbean, it’s margaritas.
Since you just mentioned that you're from Montreal, is poutine something you miss while traveling abroad?
I do, you know, I left quite young. I don't even know if poutine was much of a thing when I left in the 80s, but you know, I've gone back to visit and whenever I'm there, yeah, I get it. I love it. And it is unique. Like it's unique to Montreal or Quebec, isn't it? I mean, that's where it started.
When I'm back in Montreal I get a poutine and my folks were originally from Halifax, so whenever I'm over there I get a donair. I love the donairs. I don't know if there's a famous Montreal donair, but the ones in Halifax are amazing.
Viewers get to watch a lot of guests do wild things or make wild requests on Below Deck. Where do you guys draw the line between the customer is always right and a guest is asking too much of your staff?
For me the big thing would be safety. So if it's not affecting safety, then we're going to go all out to try and give them anything they want. But you know, a part of safety is getting proper rest, and we have restrictions where the crew has to get proper rest.
But–and that's very delicate–we try to give them everything we physically can. I don't draw the line too quickly. You know, unless it's a space issue, we try to get everything we can.
This season on Below Deck we saw the scandal of the poached eggs and the hollandaise sauce. Do you think that poached eggs are typically served with hollandaise sauce?
You know, like I said, I'm not a foodie, but I’ve worked in a few restaurants and I think that was a mistake or misunderstanding. You know? Because, no, I don't think so.
Maybe she was busy and heard eggs Benedict, not poached eggs. I think somehow she kind of got confused and just jumped the gun and made what she thought she heard. I think it was a misunderstanding. And then maybe because of the tension she was being defensive about it. So that's my take, you know. I think it was a mistake for sure, and it was nine guests.
Correct me if I'm wrong, that seems like a lot on a sailing boat. Based on what we’ve seen so far, that seems like much more than you usually have.
Yeah, that's kind of a full house. They were running us a little bit ragged, but you know again, I don't want to sound like we can't handle it. We can, you know. I've had 12 guests many, many times, but you know it depends on the situation and maybe you would want to have a sous chef to manage the load.