What are you doing / where are you working right now?
I am sole chef on a charter 58m motor yacht. One of the most challenging jobs I’ve ever had!
Who is your food hero (dead or alive) and why?
I have had the chance to work for Bruno Cirino at l’Hostellerie Jerome, a two Michelin star restaurant in La Turbie, a village above Monaco. I have been really impressed with the effort he makes to find the most exceptional ingredients. Every day he wakes up at 5 in the morning to go to the central market in Nice, San Remo or Ventimiglia. He has a very humble approach to gastronomy and quality produce is the essence of his cuisine.
What three ingredients could you not live without?
Cream, Butter and garlic – I am French after all!
What are your three favorite cookbooks and why?
I quite like Heston Blumenthal at home, Sauces from Michel Roux and the Nobu Cookbook.
What three kitchen gadgets could you not live without?
Cordless hand blender, Thermomix and a powerful stand mixer
What piece of equipment should every yacht have in the galley?
A great combi oven…. Or two
What would you say are some of the most overrated ingredients?
Beef Tenderloin and Truffle oil
What would you say are some of the most underrated ingredients?
I feel like most of the root vegetables like beetroot, turnip, parsnip and Jerusalem artichoke are not used to their full potential. It’s also rare to get guests that like to discover other fish species than the usual seabass and salmon.
What has been the most popular (or requested dish) on a yacht by a guest so far?
One of the classics onboard is the Peking Duck. It’s a slightly westernised version that we cook in a master stock, carve at the table and serve with Chinese pancakes.
If you were a guest on a yacht, who would you want to cook for you and why?
I would love to have a local chef in each destination cooking traditional dishes. Discovering new food is for me one of the most important aspect of travel.
What music do you listen to in the galley (if at all)?
It depends on my mood… but it goes from Chopin to Sepultura but the Spice Girls on drop off day is a must!
Best galley tip/hack?
I always have a roasted Thyme and Garlic paste in the fridge; I use some of it in most dishes.
What is the most difficult location you have ever had to provision in? And what bit of advice can you give to figure out where to go?
It is harder to find great produce in most destinations that are not yachting hot spots, in that regards provisioning in Chile and in the Galapagos Islands was a bit difficult. The ideal is to use trusted local provisioners… and to be creative with what you get!
What is the hardest part of your job?
Being a sole chef and catering for 12 guests and 14 crew, it is sometimes hard to cope with the last-minute menu changes.
What do you see as being the biggest challenge for chefs in the industry moving forward?
Maybe the collapse of the cruise ship and restaurant industry will induce an increase of chefs available to work on yachts, pulling the salaries down.
What would you say to people who stereotype chefs as being prima donnas with big egos?
I would say that they are not entirely right, but also they need to recognise that being a chef is very stressful and that usually good chefs are also passionate chefs.
What is your attitude toward crew with dietary requirements?
Because there is only one chef onboard, we try to recruit people that don’t have over the top dietary requirements, that being said, I rarely let a crew member starve to death!
What is the weirdest most bizarre thing you have ever been asked to cook?
Name something you have cooked for guests that you are most proud of?
I take a lot of pride – and pleasure – in baking bread and desserts
When you are interviewing a chef to work for you, how do you know if they are any good?
Checking references is the best way to know. Having a great CV is nice but the attitude is paramount.
What one thing should all chefs do to help the environment?
Try to use more local ingredients and limit the amount of animal protein.
What one thing can chefs do to limit food wastage?
Portion Control and recycle – safely – the left overs
If you weren’t a chef, what would you want to be?
Name: Clément Brasseur
Years’ experience as a chef: 12