A charter yacht’s chef can make or break a superyacht charter. Working alone in the galley from before breakfast through to the last dessert after dinner (with impromptu requests in between), they play a huge role in ensuring repeat bookings. The industry’s best were honoured at the recent MYBA Charter Show in Genoa, where SuperYacht World was proud to sponsor the Chefs’ Competition. A team of judges from inside the charter industry sampled a three-course meal and service aboard 25 different yachts, assigned in three categories allocated by length. Chefs were assessed on three courses: a savoury brunch dish, a sweet brunch dish and a baked goods basket, based on originality, presentation, taste, creativity, use of seasonal ingredients, and appropriateness to the theme of International Brunch. We caught up with the three winning chefs to find out their stories.
Winner: 50 metres plus category – Cameron Davis
Yacht Galaxy (a 56-metre Benetti available for charter through Burgess)
Date joined I’ve had two stints on Galaxy. I worked on board from April 2008 to May 2009, then returned as head chef in April 2012, and have been here ever since.
Cooked for the judges Poached hens egg, white asparagus with crispy prosciutto and smoked cod roe hollandaise.
Bio I began culinary training at the age of 16 at the local polytechnic in my hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand.
Signature dish I consider all of the dishes served on Galaxy to be my signatures.
Favourite place to source fresh produce when cruising The Western Mediterranean. You get the best of everything there and I enjoy showcasing the ingredients.
Most curious culinary request? A lot of guests want one of the dishes on the menu to be made a certain way, and that’s absolutely fine. A Russian client even wanted to cook his own meal. It was a Russian dish of duck, rice and carrot cooked slowly together. He bought the ingredients and told me how it should taste, then he cooked it with my assistance – it was interactive.
Yacht Zoom Zoom Zoom (a 49-metre Trinity available for charter through Hill Robinson Yacht Management)
Date joined I joined as head chef in October 2013 for one trip with the owner before Zoom Zoom Zoom went into the yard for the winter.
Cooked for the judges A frozen cylinder of yoghurt parfait encased in a blueberry gel alongside crêpes with piped vanilla mascarpone and sorrel granita.
Bio I left school at 14 and went to catering college in Bath. At 18 I moved to London before leaving at 23 to work on yachts Devotion and Honeybear.
Signature dish Foie gras parfait sous-vide and marinated in port, brandy and Madeira. I set it in to a cylinder and serve with vanilla and red wine purée and figs.
Favourite place to source fresh produce when cruising A reliable provisioner. My current supplier specialises in seasonal British food from a certain market in the UK.
Most curious culinary request? A crew member asked for a breast-shaped cake for his birthday! I made a flat hazelnut sponge on the bottom then chocolate mousse set in cups on top, with pink fondant icing for the underwear!
Yacht Leonardo (a 30-metre Azimut available for charter through Premium Yachts)
Date joined Last year was my first full season aboard.
Cooked for the judges A five-spice tuna roll with Asian-style cucumber spiced salad.
Bio I began my career in restaurants in Paris and Brittany then worked aboard a luxury passenger cruise liner for six years starting as demi chef and finishing as head chef, before joining Leonardo.
Signature dish The tuna roll I made for the judges, which was inspired by the six years I spent living in Thailand.
Favourite place to source fresh produce when cruising St Tropez for fresh seafood from the fish market on the port. Especially the monkfish; I sautée then finish it in the oven with a fondue of leeks and star anise beurre blanc.
Most curious culinary request? Last year we had a guest who just wanted snacks for the three weeks they were on board. They had a lot of friends coming to visit so they didn’t want to sit around a table, they wanted to dance! We served platters of meat and fish throughout the day. That was a first for me and I enjoyed it because it was a completely different way of working.