Superyacht Chef Competition, talent served up on a silver plate
Friday 8th April 2022. Nine superyacht chefs met at the Superyacht Chef Competition; an event organised by Yacht Club de Monaco under the aegis of its La Belle Classe Academy training centre in partnership with bluewater.
“It’s a special event that is all about sharing values that we hold dear at Yacht Club de Monaco. It is very much in line with Monaco, Capital of Advanced Yachting, an approach that aims to position the Principality as a destination synonymous with excellence in the Luxury Yachting sector,” says YCM General Secretary Bernard d’Alessandri. The one-of-its-kind culinary contest pits the gastronomic talents of competitors against a number of set criteria to seduce a jury of true professionals.
Imaginations put to the test
From the start, Chefs had to draw on their imaginations faced with a basket of mystery ingredients unveiled just before they took their place at the workstations. “One thing’s for certain the contest was going to throw in some surprising flavour combinations,” noted Chef Joël Garault, President of Monaco Goût et Saveurs supervising the competition. Purple artichoke, lime, kumquat, carrot tops and zucchini flowers were just some of the ingredients available to them.
Jury members led by Chef Nicolas Sale, at the head of two Michelin star restaurants and International President of the Disciples d’Auguste Escoffier, scrupulously noted every detail, from presentation to how products are used to that all-important burst of flavours on the palette. Every mouthful counted: “40 minutes to produce a dish is not long,” insists Nicolas Sale, “but participants showed lots of positive energy”. The admiration is mutual between Chefs who work ashore and those at sea: “Cooking at sea is something very special, It’s another vision of the profession. They are like us as they have to produce excellence to order but in a restricted space”. Creative and resilient under pressure, the chefs knew just how to bring the produce alive, making them colourful, original and of course delicious.
Contestants demonstrated a level of mastery that allowed products to express themselves in the simplest way. Joshua Kent M/Y White Rose of Drachs (65m), Simon Cuel M/Y Hampshire II (78 m), Palmire Leblanc M/Y Dayboat (35m), Marco Crispino M/Y Sibelle (50m), Daniel Harding M/Y S (33m), Alexandre Perez M/Y Ava II (49.95m), and finally Micail Swindells M/Y Go (77m), Nicolas Petit M/Y Latitude (43m) and Ivan Holmes M/Y Kjos (38m) put on a show for the three qualifying rounds of 40 minutes. Micail Swindells, Nicolas Petit and Ivan Holmes made it through to the grand finale, encouraged by the public. While all had proved they had imagination, only one stood out from the others.
Nicolas Petit from M/Y Latitude (43m) got the Jury’s collective vote with his duck breast, mousseline of peas and black garlic, accompanied by baby carrots and duck jus followed by a tuile with pineapple roasted in rosemary. “It’s such a surprise and great recognition, I’m really overwhelmed. The most difficult part was managing the wait when you can see all the others cooking and you just want to get going”.
Beautiful people at the table
Chef Nicolas Sale took his role as Jury president very seriously alongside colleagues like Benoît Nicolas, voted ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France’ in 2015 in the gastronomic cuisine category and now teaching at the Ecole de Gastronomie Ferrandi, Paris, for whom “managing the space is critical. Optimising your movements is crucial. It’s interesting to see how adaptable they are”. Didier Anies, Michelin star chef voted ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France’ in 2000 and current Executive Chef at Château de la Tour in Cannes, Wendy Van Den Schrick, Moët Hennessy Private Ambassador and Jean-Claude Brugel, Meilleur Ouvrier de France 1996 and teacher at the Paul Valérie in Menton completed the Jury.
Anti-waste criterium: cherry on the cake
For the first time since its launch, one of the criteria was anti-waste devised and run by Chef Gilles Brunner, who is professor of cuisine at Monaco’s Lycée Technique et Hôtelier. The concept is simple: every product that is not used is penalised, a criterion now embedded in modern cuisine and taught in all hotel catering schools: Anti-waste is essential in our profession and needs to be instilled in the new generation”. It’s a principle shared by all chefs and owners as YCM member Michael Evans (M/Y White Rose of Drachs) says: “I really admire this initiative. For sure it’s through this type of action that we will achieve a more sustainable world”. An environmentally friendly approach in line with the Monaco, Capital of Advanced Yachting vision.