The Yacht Club de Monaco’s annual Yacht Chef Competition wrapped up on Thursday (30 March) with a prestigious prize-giving ceremony in the company of Yacht Club de Monaco (YCM) president HSH Prince Albert II and acclaimed chef Yannick Alléno.
The competition, which was held in collaboration with yacht crew management firm Bluewater, saw nine chefs battle it out to win over an all-star panel of judges by creating dishes from a mystery selection of ingredients. The ingredients were presented to participants just five minutes before the start of each 45-minute cooking slot, with three slots allocated for three different courses.
Members of the audience were invited to vote on additional ingredients that challenged chefs to use different flavours in new ways while adhering to a strict “anti-waste” policy.
The panel of judges savouring the dishes included multi-award-winning chef Yannick Alléno, as well as president of Monaco Goût et Saveurs Joël Garault, last year’s yacht chef competition winner Nicolas Petit, gourmet cuisine specialist Benoît Nicolas, Italian culinary expert Cristina Bowerman and yacht owner Susana Perdiguero De Segovia. Garault said it was important to have a yacht owner on the committee because of their unique first-hand perspective.
In the end, it was chef Marco Tognon of 73-metre Planet Nine who stormed to victory, impressing judges with the fresh flavours of his Brittany lobster ceviche, avocado and caviar-infused mousse topped with parmesan and poached pineapple on a bed of champagne and vanilla pudding.
Tognon was defending the title, with Planet Nine having previously stormed to victory under the leadership of a former chef. “If you stay calm and focus on winning, there is no competition,” said Tognon. He added it would be a "great sense of pride for his owner" to win the competition. Planet Nine charters with Burgess.
In second place was chef Tommaso Santoni, captain of 60-metre Paloma, who was commended for his inventive use of flavours and mouthwatering menu. Paloma charters with Fraser.
Alléno called the judging particularly challenging this year, particularly given the time constraints. “Who cooks in forty minutes, except chefs on a boat?” he said. He called the quality of the food “unexpected". The participants showed “huge knowledge and adaptability”, which are key components of superyacht chefs.
The competition was held under the umbrella of the Yacht Club de Monaco’s Capital of Advanced Yachting collective and YCM’s La Belle Classe Academy training centre with support from Sabrina Monte-Carlo. YCM General Secretary, Bernard d’Alessandri said it was a chance to “lift the veil on another facet of professionals in yachting” and called it a wonderful opportunity for the younger generation of yacht chefs to meet more experienced chefs in the field.
Other yacht chefs in the mix included Viktoria Fenya of the newly delivered Infinity Nine, Hloni Tlhapuletsa of 115-metre Ahpo, and Gjorgi Mitev of 73-metre Coral Ocean, who also impressed judges with his flavour-packed dishes at the Antigua Superyacht Chef Challenge.
The next event on the Yacht Club de Monaco’s agenda will be the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, held between 3 and 8 July.