Yacht chefs competition heats up Newport

NEWPORT – Attendees report that indeed, “yacht rock” is listened to on board and every passenger’s whim is catered to. The yachting experience has been in the spotlight in Newport this week during the Charter Yacht Show at the Newport Shipyard.

Twenty-four world-class vessels have been anchored on display all week at the shipyard docks. Nineteen of those are motor vessels, five are sailing, the longest is the 150-foot motor yacht Time For Us, while the smallest sailboat is the 60-foot catamaran Cygnus. Their staterooms sleep up to ten, many are equipped with hot tubs on their elegant top decks and just about any amenity or water toy one can think of may be found on board.

The show puts the luxury yacht experience within reach for those who may not consider themselves among the rich and famous. Here, charter yacht brokers come in search of a perfect match for their clients who wish to book a week’s vacation or extended trip on a luxury yacht. There are unique charter opportunities in New England, and a yacht to suit each one.

There are ultra-modern vessels all the way to a historic replica of a schooner built in 1923. They all come complete with crew including in many cases, professional chefs. The skills of the captains and crews are on display in a series of contests scheduled throughout the week. These include Captain and deck challenges including an obstacle course; crew competitions in such categories as tablescaping and signature cocktails; and the marquee chef competition. This year’s theme was “sustainable luxury”. The chefs prepared their dishes in their own galleys and then plated them before the judges in the main show tent.

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The judges were: Food Network personality and personal chef Kevin Des Chenes, Tuckernuck Yachting’s Andrea Lazor and American Superyacht Association President Kitty McGowan. Judging criteria was based on taste, presentation, creativity/originality, use of ingredients involved, and table presentation, including speaking about sustainability practices used onboard the chef’s respective yachts.

The chefs created their dishes from mystery basket ingredients: local Jonah Crab; Black Seabass locally caught in Rhode Island Sound; aquacultured caviar and bowfin.  A list of simple pantry items such as herbs and stock but prohibited were truffles and any other proteins including Foie Gras.

The winner, of the motor vessel Enterprise, was Chef Abigail Pawlik with her New England take on Low Country shrimp and grits – creamy polenta with seared black sea bass on top with Jonah crab in chili lemon – sauced with a snap pea pesto – garnished with bowfin caviar, snap peas and crab in chili oil. In second place was MV Endeavor’s Chef Rio Alexander with pan seared sea bass atop a slaw of peaches and nectarines with turmeric citrus dressing. Pawlick received gift cards from sponsoring merchants.

Bruce Newbury’s Dining Out radio talk show is heard Saturdays at 11:00 AM on 1540 AM WADK, on radio throughout New England, through various mobile applications and his podcast. Email Bruce at Bruce@brucenewbury.com