This year marked the 20th edition of the much-anticipated Antigua Charter Yacht Show’s Concours de Chef competition. Sponsored by Boat International Media Group, Dockwalk and Shoreside Support, this annual event is a highlight of the Antigua Charter Show for chefs and interior crews who showcase their finely tuned cooking and tablescaping skills in front of the industry’s most discerning charter brokers and their peers.
After two decades of competition, the event went back to basics with the 2019 theme: Charter Guests’ First Dinner Aboard. This year while there were no dietary restrictions, there were some rules in place. Chefs were tasked with preparing their first courses using Caviar, second courses using his/her choice of protein prepared three ways (two ways for yachts smaller than 125 feet) and dessert courses with a tropical fruit prepared three ways (two ways for yachts smaller than 125 feet). Chefs had 30 minutes to serve this three-course meal to five judges, who tallied up scores based on originality/creativity, taste/flavor, presentation, execution/technique and overall impression.
In addition to the menu, the stewards and stewardesses were tasked with creating a tablescape to complement the cuisine. The theme Dressed to Impress a Welcome Aboard Dinner for Charter Guests had interior crew pulling out all the stops to welcome their guests to the yacht and the Caribbean. The interior staff and chef could choose to serve the meal on the table of their choice. The tablescape was judged on originality/creativity and overall impression.
In addition, the CYBA (Charter Yacht Broker’s Association) in an effort to raise awareness on reducing the use of water bottles aboard yachts put chefs and stews to task in its Designer Water Contest. The rules were simple: prepare flavored water using water from the yacht’s desalinator with natural ingredients – no alcohol or sugar syrup — served in a reusable container – no plastics allowed. Water was judged on the following criteria: taste, creativity and presentation.
Thirty chefs competed in the Concours event, 10 in three categories, yachts 125 feet and smaller, yachts 126 to 159 feet and yachts 160 feet and larger, but top honors could be dulled out to only a few. Winners were crowned in each category for tablescapes and three chefs in each category were awarded first, second and third place prizes. Once again, this year Northrop & Johnson’s charter yachts stood out from the crowd, taking home prizes in the Concours de Chef, tablesetting and designer water competitions.
In the 125 feet and under category, the chef and interior team of 122-foot (37m) Delta luxury yacht WONDERLAND took home top billing in all categories for which they were eligible. Chef Jeremy Gardner alongside Chief Stewardess Clarise Robbertse and Second Stewardess Boudine Nagel conceptualized an amazing Alice in Wonderland theme. The menu comprised a first course of scallop Crudo with Royal Ossetra Caviar with yuzu and wasabi custard, Dashi milk and coral tuile, a main course of sous vide-cured lamb leg and roasted lamb loin with sweet potato puree, pearl onion confit, poached grapes, fried kale and Moroccan-spiced jus, and a Ataulfo mango Bavarian black sesame buttercream with mango gel, raspberry meringue and tarragon lime olive oil. The tablescape transported guests through the looking glass. This elegant tablesetting featuring whimsical butterflies and sophisticated details was a fan favorite for good reason. WONDERLAND also took top honors in the Designer Water Contest as the crew concocted a delightful pineapple, ginger, lime, passionfruit drink.
In the yachts from 126-to-159-feet category, two yachts from Northrop & Johnson’s charter fleet were honored. The interior team of the 153-foot (46m) Cantieri di Pisa superyacht BALISTA wowed with its Garden of Eden tablescape that utilized verdant greenery and fresh florals. The ever-so-elegant place settings and fine, detailed touches ensured Chief Stewardess Erzsi Mascher and her team overtook the competition.
In this same size category, Chef Bianca Blohm of BERILDA, a 126-foot (38m) Feadship, brought home first place with her Kaiseki (traditional Japanese multi-course dinner)-inspired menu. The first course consisted of dashi steamed custard with Royal Osserta Caviar; the second course was tuna three ways; the third course featured yuzu and maple parfait with yuzu custard, sake yuzu shells, saffron pineapple, Italian meringue and rosemary shortbread crumble.
Chef Anthony Fossani of the 146-foot (44m) Christensen superyacht MILESTONE was named second place. The menu comprised a first course of crab cake and caviar, a main course of caramelized seabass and a pineapple upside-down cake dessert. Special mention went to MILESTONE’s interior team for its impressive Caribbean Carnival theme table.
Congratulations to all yachts that participated. We look forward to seeing what you cook up next year.