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In the Galley with Yacht Chef Alain Bijou

Leading international chef placement agency Amandine Chefs has been busy unravelling the ins and outs of the fascinating lives of yacht chefs, getting to know their trade secrets and what makes them tick - from what music they like to listen to in the galley to the most bizarre thing they’ve ever had to cook. 

This week, Kate Emery, the founder of Amandine Chefs, catches up with Chef Alain Bijou to discuss his career heroes, his must-have galley gadgets and how he creates his perfect onboard menus. They say no one does fine dining quite like the French, and Chef Alain Bijou is the perfect example. With over 25 years in the culinary industry – nine cooking on board  superyachts – he continues to wow guests charter guests with his luxurious recipes using only the best ingredients.

Who is your food hero (dead or alive) and why?

Joël Robuchon – he is a mentor and inspiration for my generation of chefs and he is still the chef with the most Michelin stars in the world. 

What three ingredients could you not live without?

Salt, because it has helped humanity to preserve food since ancient times. It’s an ingredient that has multiple uses within my job.

Butter, because it is the key ingredient in both traditional and modern French cuisine.

And eggs, because I can use them in any kind of meal!

What are your three favorite cookbooks and why?

Yves Thuriès’ magazine has been a great reference for me since 1988, and Chef Nobu has published some great books which have helped to understand Japanese cuisine much more thoroughly. Then there’s Le Grand livre de cuisine d’Alain Ducasse: la Méditerranée which I also love. 

What three kitchen gadgets could you not live without?

My old knife set, a colour-coded chopping board set and my Imperia pasta making machine. Every galley should also have a multi-functional rational oven.

What would you say are some of the most overrated ingredients?

Organic products and anything bio-labelled. I prefer to work closely or directly with the farmers or producers. 

What would you say are some of the most underrated ingredients?

Cabbage, garlic and sage. They aren’t expensive, but are super healthy and I love to use them all. 

What has been your most popular dish on a yacht by a guest so far?

My bouillabaisse with caviar and lobster! 

If you were a guest on a yacht, who would you want to cook for you and why?

Chef Jacques Maximin. He is a great master of Mediterranean cuisine with a charismatic personality.

What music do you listen to in the galley?

I tend to listen to the local radio station of wherever the yacht is based. 

What’s your best galley tip/hack?

Clean as you go and always respect your produce and working environment.

What is the most difficult location you have ever had to provision in? And what bit of advice can you give to other chefs to figure out where to go?

Malé in Maldives, because of the import authorities and paperwork. You need to have a serious food supplier and agent. 

What is the hardest part of your job?

I love every aspect of my job, from cleaning and provisioning to the actual cooking and service and management.

What would you say to people who stereotype chefs as being prima donnas with big egos?

We are not opera singers! No, I’m joking. Our job is to provide service that is always the result of a team effort.

What is your attitude toward crew with dietary requirements?

I am flexible and happy to please everyone, but I also have to be reasonable and respect the budget.

What is the weirdest most bizarre thing you have ever been asked to cook?

It’s a toss-up between a whole camel biryani dish, a 60kg whole fresh tuna fish, and rooster testicle soup…

Name something you have cooked for guests that you are most proud of?

I have a few! My cauliflower parfait, special Duck Terrine, Cristal champagne risotto, and Poulet en Vessie (chicken cooked in pig bladder) by Chef Paul Bocuse. This recipe is the origin of the sous-vide cooking…

When you are interviewing a chef to work for you, how do you know if they are any good?

I look for a person with sense of curiosity and enthusiasm. And also someone who has healthy habits.

What one thing should all chefs do to help the environment?

Use reusable bags when shopping, and collect and recycle used cooking oils.

What one thing can chefs do to limit food wastage?

Don’t overstock with fresh produce, and always have a good inventory system in place always helps.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you want to be?

A professional rugby player!

About Amandine International Chef Placement

The leader in international chef placement, Amandine Chefs is the brainchild of food fanatic Kate Emery whose overriding passion in life has always been great food and wine. Kate launched Amandine in the South of France in 2011, subsequently expanding across the globe with offices now in Monaco, London and Fort Lauderdale, cementing her commitment to raising standards in the yachting industry and providing the right support, motivation and inspiration to enable chefs to perform at the highest level.

When she's not working or looking after her two daughters, you’ll find Kate eating her way around the world and working through San Pellegrino's top 50 list.

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