Dive into the world of gastronomy with LILI’s head chef. He unveils his latest creations inspired by exploring local markets selling fresh fish, locally grown vegetables and artisanal products. First starting in London, he booked a one-way ticket to Australia and New Zealand, eating his way through the South Pacific and eventually South East Asia. With seven years as a Chef in the superyacht industry, he has picked up an abundance of techniques and unique recipes.
As a charter guest on-board LILI (Amels, 55-metre) the choice is yours. On the world tour in 2020, LII’s galley evolved into a global kitchen. Starting in the Caribbean home to the delicious Chilean seabass, the Chef has put his twist on the local cuisine. Heading towards Panama will involve diving for fish in the dazzling waters, which creates so many memories for charter guests and crew. In the Spring, Alaska beholds plenty of cold-water fish, octopus, shrimp, and of course the famous Alaskan king crab. In addition, deer and game for those looking to indulge in rich meats.
Read about this exciting culinary tour and discover the Chef’s local secret in Naples, unforgettable meal requests including grade 7 wagyu beef with truffles as well as his favourite flavours and dishes in the world, ranging from yuzu-baked banana with miso-butter sauce to a delicious authentic Thai meal.
In conversation with LILI's Head Chef
How did you become the chef on a yacht like LILI?
In the catering world, if you don’t evolve with the latest trends and learn from other chefs, you become obsolete. So as a young chef in London, I booked myself a one-way ticket to the other side of the world. I travelled to Australia and New Zealand, spent some time in South East Asia, eating, cooking and working. I spent nearly five years doing that. Then I spent six months in the French ski resorts looking for private clients and it’s from there that I moved into the luxury superyacht industry. I’ve been in yachting for seven years now and I have to say, I love it.
Presumably, you can now absorb more gastronomic influences than ever? Absolutely. We’re in Sicily right now (August 2019) and only this morning, I was out exploring the local markets. It’s great in that regard. I get to go behind the fish counter and make handmade swordfish sausages with the local Sicilian men. These are things I’ve never seen before so going to the markets, speaking to the people, eating in the local restaurants, learning their techniques, experiencing their flavours. This all enhances what I’m able to bring back to the superyacht and cook for our guests.
Do your charter guests embrace that?
A lot of charter clients know what they want, but others aren’t sure until you put it in front of them. That’s exciting because I get the chance to show them what I can do; to unveil what I’ve found for them. It enables me to give them a new experience and a special memory of their time onboard that’s directly related to food.
How does your food differ from that of a high-end shoreside restaurant?
When you’re staying on a superyacht, surrounded by 2 and 3 Michelin Star restaurants, we actually encourage our guests to go and experience that. After all, that’s what I’d want to be doing in their position. When they’re on board, they can have whatever they like but they rarely want non-stop fine dining. Sometimes they want food they’re comfortable with - nothing that scares them too much. And if they want a grilled cheese sandwich, they can have that but it’s my job to make sure it’s the best-grilled cheese sandwich they will ever eat.
Where do you get your supplies?
We have the most amazing suppliers on standby. For instance, my pasta always comes from a little lady in Naples - the same lady every time. She sits there and makes all these beautiful, fresh, handmade pastas. She’s looked after me for a long time now and these are the kinds of people who make up the support network that you have to leverage when you’re the chef on a superyacht.
So you and LILI are on a world tour now?
That’s right. We’re starting off in the winter of 2019-2020 in the Caribbean, the home
of Chilean seabass and Mahi and things like Caribbean shrimp. Then when we head through the Panama Canal and out into the Pacific. That will involve lots of Ecuadorian-influenced food and I’m also a really big scuba diver, so there should be plenty of opportunities to indulge in that. Then, in the spring of 2020, we’ll be heading north and cruising to Alaska, which I find really exciting because I’m not yet familiar with it. I’m expecting lots of snappers, lots of cold water fish, huge octopus and shrimp. And when it comes to meats, we’ll be in deer and game territory, so whatever they succeed in hunting is what we’ll eat. They are huge on halibut too. Some of the biggest halibut in the world have been caught up there. And vast King Crab the same span as my own arms. But it’s going to be cold outside, so things like clam chowder will go down particularly well.
Are there any parts of the world you particularly enjoy?
I’ve worked in Thailand and learned a great deal about authentic Thai cuisine, including some tastes that have really thrown me. But having spent time in Japan, I sway very much on authentic Japanese flavours. I like to use Japanese miso or yuzu to enhance my dishes. In fact, one of my favourite dishes at the moment is yuzu-baked banana, with a white miso-based butter sauce, topped with salted caramel satay ice-cream. It’s a simple flavour-packed dish that people always find satisfying.
Do some of your charter guests enjoy pushing the boundaries with food?
I’ve had six-year-old boys at a breakfast table requesting wagu beef, only grade 7 and above, cooked medium with truffle sauce and mashed potato at 9:00 am. I’ve had four-year-old children saying ‘My favourite dessert is Tahitian vanilla crème Brulee’. But those challenges are great because we also enjoy pushing boundaries on their behalf. For instance, we sometimes have a ‘White Party’ where the sun deck is dressed up with white veils. We serve the most exquisite fine dining food, like beluga caviar served on Champagne-infused John Dory fillet, next to a bowl of lemons filled with dry ice so you get the aroma of the lemons cascading across the table. But even then, it’s not about showing off. It’s about understanding the client and knowing what they will enjoy.