Top Notch Design

12 April 2018 By Laura Dunn

Interior crew got to display their talents during Aqualuxe Outfitting’s Top Notch Tabletop contest at the 2018 Palm Beach International Boat Show. For this fifth annual event, Aqualuxe’s Cris Clifford teamed up with the Yacht Stew Guru Alene Keenan and Julie Perry, author of The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess, to judge contestants on creativity, aesthetics, and overall design impression.

With 28 stewardesses across 11 yachts competing in eight categories, there were several stunning table settings to choose from. Luxe Interior and Chic Outdoors were the two main categories, and judging took place on Facebook from March 25 to April 7.

Competition was tough, but Kirsty van Wyk, Chelsea Gallagher, and Nicole Edwards of M/Y Carpe Diem II claimed the Luxe Interior category. Crystal Brierly along with sisters Christine and Stephanie Drake of M/Y Mine Games claimed first in Chic Outdoors. Sponsored by MPT’s Lisa Morley, both sets of winners won a $1,000 training voucher towards a class.

Samantha Klepper, Raisa Gauci, and Brittany Schnare of M/Y Sovereign won the Best Overall Design, and judges noted, “They achieved a whimsical vintage chic setting design like no other, pulling all the stops.” They won a wave bowl, valued at $520, sponsored by Baccarat.

For the following five categories, winners received a bluewater basket that included a signed copy of The Yacht Guru’s Bible by Aleene Keenan, a luxe tote from Aqualuxe, and a fabulous amenity package from Thalgo.

The Drake sisters and Brierly of M/Y Mine Games were on their design game and managed to win not only Chic Outdoors, but also Top Creative Centerpiece. “The upper deck ‘Mad Hatter Brunch’ pulled out all the stops, with clocks and oversized playing cards suspended above the charming centerpiece collection of tea sets,” judges said. “Drunken Gummy Bears begged ‘Drink Me!!” and offset the glittery Mad Mouthful menu, earning them Top Creative Centerpiece.”

Besides taking first for Luxe Interior, van Wyk, Gallagher, and Edwards of M/Y Carpe Diem II got the winning title for Stylish Menu Design. Judges loved their Marilyn Monroe Affair: “The clever use of a mirror as the menu design was perfect for the sophisticated Marilyn Monroe Affair. Congratulations!”

The winners of Best Overall Design also snagged another title: Best Beverage Presentation. Klepper, Gauci, and Schnare of M/Y Sovereign went with the theme “Spring Fling,” which caught the judges' attention: “Their sweet and sassy cocktail featured raspberry beet juice ice cubes, gin-infused cantaloupe, and homemade Tarragon Molasses,” they raved. “Everyone needs to learn how to make this one! Each ice cube is carefully crafted with a raspberry frozen inside.”

Tenielle Dunkley and Kristen Acosta of M/Y Nomadess presented the best Tip of the Day by going green. Besides writing out their tips for creating reusable dryer sheets (“Stop using one-day products every day in yachting; make your own reusable dryer sheets”), they also provided a small Essential Oils bottle with instructions on how to make dryer sheets.

For the final category, Gwen Hamp, Georgia Adey, Charlotte Starnes, Madison Roberts, and Madison Graham of M/Y Excellence V won the Most Artistic Napkin Fold. “We fell in love with the different textures in this setting. A perfectly folded double flower napkin created a pop of color and texture.”

See all the participants and winners at

M/Y Sovereign: Chief Stewardess Samantha Klepper, Raisa Gauci, and Brittany Schnare

M/Y Mine Games: Chief Stewardess Christine Drake and Crystal Brierly

M/Y Carpe Diem II: Chief Stewardess Chelsea Gallagher, Kirsty Van Wyk, and Nicole Edwardes