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Newport Charter Yacht Show: M/Y Far Niente and S/Y Paradigm Shift Sweep the Crew Competitions - The Far Niente Crew
NEWPORT, R.I. (June 26, 2015) – In addition to turning heads with impressive exteriors and elaborately elegant interiors, the world-class yachts participating in this year’s Newport Charter Yacht Show wowed show attendees with their teams of onboard professionals competing in the Crew Competitions that put hospitality and culinary skills to the test. The series of contests – organized by Captain’s Concierge and sponsored by Crew Food Safety Training; Culinary Convenience; and DYT Yacht Transport/Sevenstar Transportation – has become a highly anticipated feature of this industry show, which for its 34th edition kicked off Monday, June 22 and wrapped up Thursday, June 25.

“The charter industry is thriving because we have very professional crew,” said Carmen Foy, a former yacht chef and founder of Crew Food Safety Training. “The chefs, the stewardesses, the captains, the engineers and everybody else onboard each yacht makes it so that the charter vacation experience is top-notch.”

Limor Michaels, founder of Culinary Convenience, added, “All the chefs did a beautiful job this week, but like with anything, you always have a few people that shine a little bit brighter.”

Five challenges were presented throughout the week, with the crews of the 130-foot motor vessel Far Niente and the 50-foot catamaran Paradigm Shift, knocking it out of the park to take home all the first-place prizes.

Paradigm Shift’s Chef Bonnie Carroll (Annapolis, Md.) started the week with her pear pancetta hors d'oeuvre taking first place in Monday’s Sunset Canape Challenge (open to competitors in yachts 99 feet and below) and then finished with a bang in Wednesday’s Healthy Beverage Challenge (in the division for yachts 99 feet and below) serving her winning sparkling orange and lime drink.

“I only make food that I love, and it’s all about using simple and fresh ingredients,” said Bonnie who started her culinary career working in five-star restaurants. “Working in a restaurant is very different than working on a yacht. In a restaurant you’re making the same foods over and over again; you have the menu with several choices and they don’t change. On a boat it’s whatever your guest’s tastes are. You are making something different all the time. Provisioning is another important factor in being a yacht chef. Finding fresh foods can be very difficult in certain places, so you need to plan ahead.”

On Tuesday, the Best Charter Yacht Chef Competition (open to all participating yachts) called for the chefs to create a dish that catered to specific dietary needs (paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free), using a mystery basket of local and seasonal ingredients. Far Niente’s Chef Ben Mercier (Quebec, Canada) won over the panel of professional judges with his vegan raw vegetable sushi dish. His wife Nikky, who is Chief Stewardess onboard, took first place in the Healthy Beverage Challenge (in the division for yachts 100 feet and above) with her medley of dairy-free fruit smoothies and pressed juices. Making a triple play, Far Niente stewardesses also won the Tablescaping Challenge with their vintage boudoir-themed dining table.

“It’s all about teamwork,” said Nikky Mercier who, like the rest of the crew, is new to Far Niente, which was built just seven months ago. “All of us onboard Far Niente are professional and passionate about what we do and take pride in our position. The captain bonds us all together, and we really like working with one another. There are great personalities onboard, and when you put happy people together, you have a recipe for success. You cannot win if you’re alone in your galley; you cannot win if you’re alone doing table settings. It’s really about bringing everybody together.”

Additional activities for crewmembers throughout the week included the Pitch & Putt Golf Tournament, which was won by Ivy Wesson of the 116-foot M/Y Vivere. The seaHEX Drone Challenge, sponsored by seaHEX and Fuerte Amador Resort & Marina, tasked captains with landing a remote control drone in the center of a target board and the overall winner was David Gies of the 126-foot M/Y Sea Bear.

Photo : Billy Black
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