For the last four years, chefs working on superyachts have met at Yacht Club de Monaco to compete in the Superyacht Chef Competition, a culinary contest organised by YCM in partnership with Bluewater. The principle is simple: bring nine chefs together and watch them work their magic at stations inspired by the restricted space of galleys on some yachts. “Under the aegis of the Monaco, Capital of Advanced Yachting collective and YCM’s La Belle Classe Academy training centre, the event attracts the professionals but also the public who love to watch chefs passionate about their craft. It’s a chance to lift the veil on another facet of professions in yachting,” explains YCM General Secretary, Bernard d’Alessandri.
Experts dining out
Some of the greatest chefs of our time arrived at YCM the day before to dine at the Club, a dinner which ended with YCM President HSH Prince Albert II presenting a cheque for the ‘Association Antoine Alléno’. Around the table were nine exceptional chefs with many a Michelin star between them, including triple-star chefs Mauro Colagreco, in charge at the Mirazur, voted best restaurant in the world in 2019, and the multi-award-winning chef Yannick Alléno. Alongside them were Marcel Ravin, Christophe Cussac, Arnaud Faye, Joël Garault, Bruno Oger, Philippe Joannes and Christian Garcia, Chef at the Prince’s Palace.
A starry line-up
Hailing from a closed circle of the world’s top chefs, Yannick Alléno, President of the jury for the 2023 Superyacht Chef Competition, can lay claim to an impeccable career with a string of awards behind him including Auguste Escoffier, Paul-Louis Meissonnier, French Champion of artistic cuisine, Bocuse d’Argent and Maître Cuisinier, up to 2017 when he gained his third Michelin star. Also on the jury were Joël Garault, Chef Nicolas Petit (M/Y Latitude 43m), winner of the previous edition, Chef Benoît Nicolas, ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France’ 2015 in the gourmet cuisine category, and Chef Cristina Bowerman, traditional Italian cuisine specialist influenced by her many experiences abroad.
For the first time since its launch in 2018, an owner, Susana Perdiguero De Segovia, was also on the jury. “It was important for us to have an owner on board for this competition as they are the ones who enable chefs to exercise and express their passion for cuisine at sea in their day to day work,” said Joël Garault,President of Monaco Goût et Saveurs, who supervised the contest. “Adding her marks to the mix helped hone the final result.
A vintage edition for 2023
The nine candidates were: Finnbar Dewar (M/Y Aura - 37m), Gjorgi Mitev (M/Y Coral Ocean - 73m), Marco Tognon (M/Y Planet Nine - 73m), Charly Raepsaet (M/Y Ali Baba - 50m), Tommaso Santoni (M/Y Paloma - 60m), Hloni Tlhapuletsa (M/Y Apho - 115m), Henrique Antunes (M/Y Mochafy22 - 45m), Peter Barkoczy (M/Y Da Vinci - 50m) and Viktoria Fenya (M/Y Infinity Nine - 35m). The big winner was Marco Tognon (M/Y Planet Nine - 73m) who surprised the jury with his Brittany lobster ceviche, caviar and avocado mousse with parmesan, accompanied by a Chantilly (whipped cream) with vodka and vanilla bean. The jury was equally captivated by his poached pineapple on champagne and vanilla dessert accompanied by mascarpone cream.
Amazed by the results from all the contestants, Yannick Alléno was generous with his compliments: “This contest has been a whirlwind of emotions, it was a real spectacle and an exceptional experience. Forty minutes is a very short time which ups the challenge. The ability of these chefs to adapt is incredible. Their technique exceptional. It left me speechless.”
Contestants only discovered their basket of mystery ingredients five minutes before the start, and had five minutes to reflect and get creative while they waited for the public to add an additional ingredient to the mix, voting from a selection using QR codes. The idea was to test the candidates’ last minute adaptability.
Tight timing and criteria
From three 45-minute rounds emerged three finalists who then had to prepare and present a main dish and a dessert to determine the overall winner. Convinced that leading by example is key, the organisers instituted an anti-waste criterium that meant chefs had to use all the ingredients or risk a penalty from an external scoring grid. The man in charge of keeping a beady eye on every aspect of every stage was British Chef Duncan Biggs who officiates on superyachts.
Organised under the aegis of YCM’s La Belle Classe Academy training centre, which stands out for offering modules on tableware, etiquette, etc. as well as navigation modules, this event helps promote superyachting professions and position Monaco as a centre of excellence.
Photo credit: Simone Spada