One of the special highlights of every year’s Newport Charter Yacht Show presented by Helly Hansen Newport is the Chef’s Competition, which is held under the Show Tent where all attending brokers, managers and other charter industry professionals can enjoy a break from business and gain further insight into the personalities of those who normally spend their days lavishing attention on charter guests. This year’s show, which ran from Monday, June 17 through Thursday, June 20 hosted 24 world-class yachts: nineteen motor yachts and five sailing vessels, half of which were more than 100 feet in length and all of which were docked within easy walking distance of each other at the mega yacht-friendly Newport Shipyard, which also owns and operates the event.
With this year’s show theme being “Sustainable Luxury,” chefs received a mystery basket of ingredients the night before the competition. It included Jonah Crab/Atlantic Dungeness (locally caught in Narragansett Bay); Black Seabass (locally caught in Rhode Island Sound); and Caviar (a choice of Royal Belgian aquacultured in Belgium or Bowfin/Choupique aquacultured in Louisiana).
Using the provided ingredients and some ingredients from their own pantries, the chefs prepared their dishes in their respective yacht galleys and then plated them before the judges at set time intervals on Tuesday. Judging the Chef’s Competition were Food Network personality and personal chef Kevin Des Chenes, Tuckernuck Yachting’s Andrea Lazor with the Lazor Method, and American Superyacht Association President Kitty McGowan. Judging criteria was based 40% on taste, 35% on presentation, 10% on creativity/originality, 10% on use of ingredients involved, and 5% on table presentation, including speaking about sustainability practices they use onboard.
Winning bragging rights and gift certificates from competition sponsors GMT and the Chanler at Cliff Walk was Chef Abby Pawlick (Sag Harbor, N.Y.) of the 86’ motor vessel Enterprise. Pawlick presented a New England take on Low Country shrimp and grits, which combined creamy polenta with the seared black sea bass on top. She prepared the Jonah crab in chili lemon sauce with a cilantro and snap pea pesto and garnished it with bowfin caviar, snap peas and crab in chili oil, white wine, Bay leaves, lemon and butter.
“It’s exciting it turned out this way,” said Pawlick after learning of her victory at the final party on Thursday evening. “At first I didn’t want to enter the competition. I didn’t really know what to think about ‘mystery ingredients,’ but then I decided it’s the nature of our industry to be able to do something on a whim. I had a good feeling after my presentation, because I had a unique take and felt I had translated the ingredients in a truly different way.”
Second was the 130-foot motor vessel Endeavour’s Chef Rio Alexander who likened his job to being an artist with an unlimited budget. He offered up one of the most aesthetically stunning plates of the competition with pan-seared sea bass positioned atop a slaw of peaches, jicama and snow peas. That was topped with turmeric citrus dressing and set upon a foundation of Jonah crab curry and oka rice. Taking third was Chef Mike Smith from the motor vessel Time for Us.
“I’ve been judging this for three years, and this year everyone really raised the bar,” said Judge Des Chenes. “With those luxury ingredients, obviously it’s easier to blow us away, but really it’s even harder to show restraint and get it just right.”
The Chef’s Competition was organized by Winnie DeCoster of Captain’s Concierge. DeCoster said the contest originated at the 2008 Newport Charter Yacht Show but since has expanded to several different competitions that include captains, deckhands, engineers and interior crew as well. “This year over 60 crew from 14 boats participated in five different competitions,” said DeCoster.
The crew competitions were sponsored by GMT Global Marine Travel, Fore Points Marina in Portland, Maine and The Chanler at Cliff Walk in Newport. Keel Vodka was the signature cocktail supplier.
Other Crew Competitions
In the Tablescaping competition, 11 interior crews created gorgeous table-top displays that highlighted their design skills and creativity. Several of the boats had original designs created for the show while others showed off designs that their guests love. The Professional Division was judged by a team of industry professionals led by Cheryl DiGennaro from Newport Yacht Interiors, while the Fan Favorite division was judged by show attendees who voted by casting ballots onboard.
Pro Favorite: M/V Endeavour - “Singing in the Rain” display with multiple levels and textures, including rain boots, tulips, fresh herbs, an umbrella with cascading crystals and accompanying soundtrack with the song.
Fan Favorite: M/V Enterprise – “Eat Long and Prosper” Star Trek theme playing off the yacht’s name.
This was the third year for the Specialty Cocktail competition, and this year’s entries showed off the amazing creativity and mixology skills of the crew who used Keel Vodka as the main ingredient. The ten yachts competing were scored in a fan-favorite format as judged by the show attendees.
1st - S/V Columbia
2nd - M/V Magical Days
3rd - M/V Invision
The Designer Water contest presented by the Charter Yacht Brokers Association (CYBA) challenged interior crew to create a ﬂavored “spa” water using water from their onboard system. This ﬁt with CYBA’s “Going Green to Save the Blue” campaign and mission to educate crew and eliminate plastic use onboard yachts.
1st - M/V Ariadne
2nd - S/V Columbia
3rd - M/V Fabulous Character
This year, the Captain & Deck Challenge was expanded to include deck and engineering crew. It was organized by Cloud City Drones, Aere Marine, Captain’s Concierge, and ShipShape Fitness. Nineteen crew from eight boats participated in the challenges held in the tent on Tuesday at the crew party. The participants raced to inﬂate and cover a fender, create a ﬂoral design, pilot a drone across a course and complete a ﬁtness obstacle course. Overall top-three and individual category winners received prizes.
1st - M/V Fabulous Character, JC Lopez
2nd - M/V Enterprise, Gabi Futter
3rd - M/V Time for Us, Leon Kock
Drone Challenge: M/V Time for Us, Henry Logan
Fitness/Obstacle Challenge: M/V Fabulous Character, JC Lopez
Fender Filling Challenge: M/V Time for Us, Scott Ellison
While not ofﬁcially part of the crew competitions, Wednesday night’s Yacht Hop is another chance for crew to shine and show off their skills. M/V Renaissance went all out with a “JAWS” theme, changing the yacht’s name to Orca and even hoisting up a 21-foot shark –fabricated by a taxidermist out of fiberglass – as a prize catch on the top deck. With costumes, the crew channeled all the characters in the movie: the garish Mayor, the stoic Amity Police, and even an all-in-black grieving mother of one of the poor eaten souls (played by the yacht’s owner). The stairs to the top deck, where a funk band was playing, forced you to enter and exit a beach cabana tent, and one could even try out a shark cage after dancing or read original movie scripts while enjoying cocktails and chuckling at the movie’s shark-attack scenes playing on the big screen TV.
Newport Charter Yacht Show Sponsors
Presenting sponsor for the fourth straight year was Helly Hansen Newport. Sea Hawk Paints and Alexseal Yacht Coatings sponsored the Monday evening Captain & Crew Briefing and Cocktail Party along with Bridge Liquors who was the bar sponsor. KVH Industries sponsored the Thursday evening Closing Party & Awards for the third straight year. BankRI and Southcoast Health Urgent Care sponsored the Belle’s Daily Breakfast during the show. GMT, Fore Points Marina and The Chanler at Cliff Walk were the Crew Competition sponsors along with KEEL Vodka who was the Signature Cocktail Competition supplier. Yachting magazine was the show’s official media partner for the fourth straight year, and the Newport Marriott once again partnered as the show’s preferred hotel. The Boys & Girls Club of Newport County, host of the Newport Yacht Rendezvous on August 9 at Newport Shipyard, was the show’s charitable partner.
About Newport Shipyard: Newport Shipyard, one of the most popular and recommended shipyards in the U.S., is a full-service marina and shipyard with over 3,500 linear feet of dock space that can accommodate yachts up to 300+ feet. Its amenities include a dockside café, ship store, fitness center, courtesy vehicles and crew housing. With its friendly staff, welcoming atmosphere, and event planning capabilities, Newport Shipyard is host to many prestigious yachting events including the Newport Charter Yacht Show, the Candy Store Cup superyacht regatta, Newport Yacht Rendezvous benefitting the Boys & Girls Club of Newport County, Newport Brokerage Boat Show held concurrently with the Newport International Boat Show, and more. For the full Newport Shipyard experience, visit: www.NewportShipyard.com
About Helly Hansen Newport: Helly Hansen Newport, the oldest Helly Hansen licensed store in North America, has been owned and operated by Jay Lasky since 1992. Known for Outfitting Active Lifestyles for Big Weather, Helly Hansen Newport strives to be the trusted solution for the best quality outdoor gear for active lifestyles and everyday needs. Helly Hansen Newport prides itself on delivering an exceptional customer experience and has been serving online customers since 1998. For more information, visit: www.bigweathergear.com