Date interviewed: May 2013
Congratulations on your first-place win in Metsuyan IV’s category at the MYBA Charter Yacht Show culinary competition. What did you prepare?
The appetizer was a crab cake with consommé tomato jelly with agar agar, avocado, salmon caviar, radishes, steamed langustines, red pepper paste, micro herbs, and flowers. Everything was bought from the market that morning. It was all these textures working together. It’s a dot of this and a bit of that. When you combine it all together, it looks beautiful and complements.
All of that was just the appetizer? What was the main course?
Local snapper, just pulled from the water, with Jerusalem artichokes puree, grilled artichokes, steamed sapphire, baby asparagus—it’s blossoming in season right now—Jerusalem artichoke chips, black olive powder—that took three days in the oven to dehydrate—snow pea shoots and basil foam with lethicin to build and hold bubbles. It’s seasonal food with techniques and tastes, and I try to make it look great on the plate.
I’d say so. You seem to combine fresh, local foods with molecular gastronomy. Did you do that for dessert, as well?
Dessert was a mango soufflé with coconut custard, coconut ice cream, and gold leaf and honeycomb. I planned all of this for a few weeks to be able to try a few of the elements out.
Where are you from, and how did you become a chef?
I’m Russian. I grew up in Russia until age 11, then in Australia and Britain. I have a degree in hospitality and management, and an opportunity came up with an agency for a job in a restaurant in Australia. I thought I would stay a few months and was there for four years. I won a few contests and three gold medals in young chef competitions. I also worked in London, some big places with celebrity chefs, some smaller traditional places, an American-style upper-class diner. I got a good variety of cuisines, and I like to travel, so I’ve been to 30 countries eating my way through them, trying the genuine article. I learned from all of it.
How did you get from restaurants to yachts?
In London, a guest came with his family to the restaurant, and he had a 40-meter yacht called Aqualibrium. He offered me a job. I said no. But then two or three years later, I told him I was ready, and I got onboard. That was the summer of 2011. It was a summer-only job.
I liked being on boats, so I joined Metsuyan IV in October 2011. And here we are.
Do you find cooking for charter clients different than cooking for yacht owners?
They all come on saying, “No desserts,” and by the end, they’re begging for afternoon tea. Anything with sugar, flour, and chocolate. These are my specialties, that and fresh fish, so it’s all about balance.
Really, this is a family boat, so we do things like sushi classes with the kids and pasta classes with the adults. During the first few days with any charter clients, I discuss the menus with them and earn their trust. Then they usually tell me just to go for it.
What do you think helps you stand out from other charter yacht chefs?
I don’t work with provisioners. I get to know the guys at the local markets. It reduces the costs for the owner and guests, and it makes everything the fresh and the best.
It’s also fun for the charter guests because if we’re in the Caribbean, anchored off an island, and a guy we know comes with fresh, live lobsters, that becomes part of the experience.
Are there any specialties that you hope all of your charter guests will try?
Prior to charters, I stock everything that I can. I try to never repeat meals during the week. I want them to be enjoying new things.
Metsuyan IV is part of the charter fleet at Camper and Nicholsons International. She takes 10 guests at a weekly base rate of €98,000. Any reputable charter broker can tell you more or help you book a week onboard. You also can check out the Dimitry Rode website to learn more about the chef.