IYC is proud that its charter fleet has a diverse range of talented and award-winning chefs on board, many of whom have worked in Michelin starred kitchens and alongside the world’s best chefs. When chartering a yacht guests are privy to incredible food and drink from their own personal chef, with custom menus personalised to their exact needs. “On Trending we like to tailor our service to the individual as best we can,” says Charlie Blacker, chef on board 50m Trending and winner of the Antigua Yacht Show 2016 prestigious Chef’s Culinary Contest. “Once guests are comfortably on board we establish the finer details and will create a few individual treats to air different ingredients and styles and home in on their tastes, before them.” Born in England, Blacker had an illustrious restaurant career, working in Michelin starred restaurants and as Head Chef for the Queen of England’s Polo Club, prior to joining superyachts.
Being a successful superyacht chef is a careful blend of the chef showcasing their own signature style while working to meet the needs of guests. “As a superyacht chef you have to be like a chameleon and adapt to any request so I keep up with all new techniques in the food world while understanding that making a hamburger is not beneath me,” says Jean-Paul Barcena, executive chef on 49m Match Point, a yacht that prides itself on the role that food plays in creating its unforgettable charter experiences. Hailing from California, Barcena grew up working in and running restaurants, undertaking training in specialist food styles including an intensive course with one of North America’s top sushi chefs, before working as a private chef on private jets and then later superyachts. “We create whatever our guests want… one day guests might want a full blown culinary experience and to be wowed with amazing food, the next they might want something much more simple.” Blacker agrees that mastering so many styles of cooking is a unique trait of superyacht chefs. “The artisan chefs devote their whole career to one discipline within the cooking spectrum but a yacht chef has to try to encompass all these disciplines within one working day,” he says. “The unique skill of a yacht chef is not to be able to master one or many disciplines, but to be inspired to be able to do them all.”
Capturing the style and flavor of the local region the yacht is cruising in is often a key goal for chefs, with many making use of all the fresh produce that is on offer locally. “I’m always keen to use local produce and try to open every charter with a dish synonymous with the area we are in at the time,” says Blacker. “This also creates an interesting story to tell our guests; I'm a firm believer that understanding the journey the produce has, from earth to table, and the story it creates is an integral part of a great plate of food.” Barcena takes a similar approach: “Yes, yes, yes I use local fresh products wherever possible,” he says. “I always try and learn the local and regional food so I can put my own spin on it and wow our guests.”
For Barcena, the key to being an onboard chef is to always be prepared and to be creative. “As well as the basics, when provisioning I like to bring on board different produce such as wild game meats, alligator, rabbit, snake and octopus, because sometimes your guests do like to experiment,” he says. “I usually create my menu based on my gut feeling and it evolves as I go along.” Taking an imaginative approach to cooking and closely with the rest of the crew helps to create memorable experiences for charter guests. “Recently we created a secret beach party where I cooked a traditional under-earth bake, with an abundance of local seafood and vegetables,” says Blacker. “We brought our guests to the beach unknowing of what was happening, only to find a romantic candle lit beach, with a roaring fire. They'd never even heard of cooking food wrapped in banana leaves, under the earth before and they were truly taken aback by the whole experience.”
To discuss your own charter with personal onboard chef, talk to the IYC Charter team today. Please contact the IYC office most convenient to you. IYC has offices in the Bahamas, Fort Lauderdale, Newport, Nantucket, St. Maarten, Monaco, Greece, Croatia, Montenegro, Malta and Barcelona. To contact an IYC office click here.