The unsung hero of the world of Super Yachts would certainly have to be the industrious, dedicated Chef – that Superhero in crocs lurking in deep within the bowels of a massive floating gin palace. Often working alone in a small spaces, battling high stress, these culinary warriors are fighting to provide their guests with elegance and perfection upon a plate. I’d like to raise a glass, trumpet a fanfare, hat in hand, stand up and applaud all you Chefs out there in the yachting industry whether on board a 70 metre or a 30 metre vessel.
Super Yacht chefs are expected to be innovators, creators, experimentalists and in the past 15 years many have come into the industry linked with previous experience in luxury establishments on land, Michelin starred restaurants or 5 star hotels.
Michelin Stars are a feature of the Michelin Guide books which were first
published in France by Andre and Edouard Michelin, the owners of the
Michelin Tyre Company in 1900. The French entrepreneurs started a guide that listed a wealth of information for motorists which included where to find meals and accommodation on holiday on France. Culinary astronomy at is best gave way to three levels of star ratings which can be awarded;
1 star – a very good restaurant in it’s category
2 star – Excellent cooking, worth a detour
3 stars – Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey
Their mascot, the Michelin Man, (Bibelobis), that slightly creepy blobby white tyre man thingy is, incredibly, one of the world’s oldest trademarks.
In the restaurant world, the control freak that is commonly known as the angry chef is very real and passionate creature. I have read that if you goggle the words ¨ chef ¨ and ¨ tantrum ¨, you’ll have more hits for Gordon Ramsey than cats have nine lives. Aboard a large luxury yacht, there’ll be such no cheffy tantrums, kitchen hissy fits or smashing of plates below decks. Even though, no doubt plenty of chefs have, given a moment of buttock clenching stress or frustration, had serious fantasies that involved stabbing well deserving crew members or other such justified acts of violence.
Not all chefs on board are classically trained, but know that half the battle in making good food is starting with great ingredients, along with translating these ingredients into perfect compositions of colours, flavours, textures and shapes.
And it’s also all about plating dear Islanders, making food look and taste like abstract art, and, lucky, lucky you, I’ve sourced some useful guidelines…..you are so welcome.
- Choose the perfect plate, the right size, make sure it’s big enough to allow your food to stand out, but small enough that your portions don’t look too small.
- The colour of the plate is very significant, white plates are popular as they create high contrast and provide a neutral background. Place the focal point of your dish to either the left or right side of the plate rather than the centre.
- Plate your ingredients, picture the face of a clock. Your protein should be between 3 and 9, your starch or carbohydrate from 9 and 12 and your veggie from 12 and 3.
- Use moist ingredients as your base. Anchor your runny ingredients like purees and mashed veggie by placing other foods on top of them.
- Serve odd amounts of food. Always give guests odd quantities, when serving small foods like scallops or prawns. Serving 7 scallops instead of 6 creates more visual appeal and the perception that your guests are getting more food.
- Don’t overcrowd and keep things simple by focusing on one ingredient, usually the protein. Finding a focal point also ensures that the accompanying ingredients will play a complementary, supporting role.
- Keep close attention to detail, colour and contrast are two elements that will give your food the wow factor.
- Another way to catch your guests eye is to create height on your plate. Creating a tall plate can go a long way to enhancing visual appeal.
- Use texture to enhance your dish, you’ll find that contrasting a smooth veggie puree with crunchy one works excellently.
- Try and create and design with sauces. Use a squeeze bottle or spoon as a paintbrush. Dab dots on one side of your plate.
- Garnishes – choose edible garnishes
- Make sure you have decorating brushes, garnishing kits, moulds, plating and precision tongs, plating wedges (these come with flat, round or pointed edges and are perfect for smearing sauces and other soft ingredients into designs on your plate) Shavers work well for chocolate and hard cheeses. Spoons are fabulous to drag smears of sauce across your plate.
- Three basic plating styles – classic, free form and landscape.
Grilled Red Snapper with Mustard and Tarragon sauce with Asparagus and Peas
4 red snapper fillets, 100g each
1 glug of oil
100g fresh peas
100g Maris Piper potatoes
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon English mustard powder
250 olive oil
100ml fish stock
50ml double cream
1 baby gem lettuce
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 asparagus spears
50ml olive oil
To start the sauce, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and add the peas. Cook for 1 minute, then lift out with a slotted spoon and refresh in coldwater. Set aside to drain.
Peel and dice your potatoes into 1cm cubes and add to the boiling water. Cook until just tender, then drain and set aside to cool.
Whisk the egg yolk, vinegar and mustard together in a bowl for 1 minute, then slowly add the olive oil, don’t add to quickly otherwise the mixture will split. Then season with a little salt.
Now gently heat the stock in a saucepan, stir the cream into the mayonnaise then whisk in the hot fish stock a little at a time until the sauce is of a coating consistency…..pop it aside.
Preheat the grill to high and season a baking tray with salt, drizzle over a
small amount of olive oil and lay the snapper fillets on top. Grill for about 6 minutes, then remove from the grill and set aside for a few minutes – the residual heat will finish cooking the fish as it rests.
Meanwhile bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Peel the asparagus spears and blanch them for 2 – 3 minutes depending on thickness. Drain and refresh.
To finish the sauce, remove skin from the peas, finely shred the lettuce and chop the gherkins. Place the sauce in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in the lettuce, peas and potatoes. Allow to heat through for a minute, then stir in the gherkins and tarragon. Season to taste.
Ladle the sauce into four big, warm serving bowls and lay the fish on top.
Garnish with each portion with four asparagus spears and a drizzle of oliveoil.
Michelin Mango Parfait with Coconut Sorbet
6 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
375ml double cream
250ml mango puree
425ml sugar syrup
400ml coconut milk
For the parfait, whip the cream until soft peaks form and return to the fridge.
Using a whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks on high speed with one
tablespoon of warm water until they double in size.
Next heat the sugar to 121C and slowly pour down the edge of the mixing bowl to combine with the yolks while mixing. Once the sugar/yolk mix has cooled, add the mango puree until combined. Fold in the cream and place in 8 moulds and pop in the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours.
While the parfaits are setting, whisk the sugar syrup and coconut milk
together, strain and churn in an ice-cream maker until you reach the desired consistency.
Chuck in the freezer to set.
On a large, square white plate serve up each parfait with a quenelle of the coconut sorbet. Dice up tropical seasonal fruit with extra mango puree and assemble down each side of the plate.
Wishing all you Chefs and Cooks a fabulous season,