Nine superyacht chefs put their skills to the test in the Yacht Club de Monaco’s Superyacht Chef competition. Marco Tognon of 73-meter M/Y Planet Nine wowed the jury with his Brittany lobster ceviche, caviar, and avocado mousse topped with Parmesan. For his dessert, Tognon impressed with his poached pineapple on champagne and vanilla mascarpone cream.
Held at the Yacht Club de Monaco (YCM) on March 30, the competition was organized by YCM in partnership with Bluewater. Each chef received a basket of mystery ingredients five minutes before the start and was given five minutes to get creative while they waited for the audience to add another ingredient to the mix, testing their last-minute adaptability.
After three 45-minute rounds, three finalists had to prepare and present a main dish and dessert to determine the overall winner. The competition’s anti-waste criteria meant all the ingredients had to be used or risk a penalty from an external scoring grid. Tognon found this element to be important because he thinks there’s always a way to use everything up and it encourages greater creativity as well.
Preferring to be led by his instincts and availability of ingredients, Tognon didn’t find it difficult incorporating the mystery ingredients for the competition. “When I’m on my time off, I’m constantly working together with my wife on new dishes and testing new, and sometimes unusual, combinations, which I think has really been invaluable in my work,” he shares.
When it came to the final round, he was happy to find a pineapple in the box because just the week before he made a poached pear dish with a mascarpone cream and saffron syrup for guests for lunch. So he recreated it using the allocated fruit and incorporated the additional ingredients in the cream, feeling confident that the resulting dessert would be a winner.
“Obviously cooking in the competition was different from a day on board in that usually I’ll already have at least a vague idea of what I’m making, but there are always occasions where plans change and improvisations need to be made,” he says. “I always enjoy interactions and owners and guests on board, and at the competition, the interactions with the judges and chefs helping out in the kitchen were similarly really fun.”
Even though a previous chef aboard Planet Nine was a former winner of the competition, Tognon didn’t feel any additional pressure and placed more focus on proving to himself he could win. He recognizes the importance of never becoming complacent and is constantly learning every day, often from the least obvious people and places. “I felt really comfortable cooking in front of the audience, judges, and cameras,” he says. “It was a fun day, and I met some great people through this experience.”
Other participating chefs included Finnbar Dewar of 37-meter M/Y Aura, Gjorgi Mitev of 73-meter M/Y Coral Ocean, Charly Raepsaet of 50-meter M/Y Ali Baba, Tommaso Santoni of 60-meter M/Y Paloma, Hloni Tlhapuletsa of 115-meter M/Y Apho, Henrique Antunes of 45-meter M/Y Mochafy22, Peter Barkoczy of 50-meter M/Y Da Vinci, and Viktoria Fenya of 35-meter M/Y Infinity Nine. Second place went to Paloma Chef Santoni, who was commended for his inventive use of flavors and mouth-watering menu.
The jury consisted of multi-award-winning chef Yannick Alleno, president of Monaco Goût et Saveurs Joël Garault, last year’s winner Chef Nicolas Petit of 43-meter M/Y Latitude, gourmet cuisine specialist Chef Benoît Nicolas, traditional Italian cuisine specialist Chef Cristina Bowerman, and yacht owner Susana Perdiguero De Segovia, who was the first owner on the jury since the contest’s launch in 2018.
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 center with support from Sabrina Monte-Carlo.