There were a lot of bests at the BVI Charter Yacht Show this year. Best boat in category, best rum cocktail, best designer water, best appetizer, best entrée, best dessert, and best overall!
In an industry with a well-established reputation for great food on tap, this culinary challenge was at Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola on 8 November 2019. Competitive chefs plan, prepare, and plate their creative cuisine to tempt and titillate the palates of the Judges selected to taste and appraise the gourmet offerings. The judges; Chef Regis Bourdon from Brandywine Estate Restaurant, Tortola. Antiguan broker Sarah Sebastian and Omar Hirst from Omar’s Fusion; ably led by contest coordinator Jan Robinson, obligingly hopped on and off 13 boats all Saturday. This well-orchestrated event allows each chef, a scheduled 20 minutes to present 2 courses to the judges. They sample and grade according to the given judging criteria and have 5 minutes to transit to the next yacht.
“Under the Sea” was the theme this year. Chefs clearly took advantage of it, with a wide selection of savory seafood. Some of the winner’s representational desserts, visually perpetuating the theme were Olympic champion quality – or at least had the wow factor of finalists in a top cooking show.
Drum Roll Please: And the winners of this years’ gastronomical bragging rights are:
Main Course: 1st place – Nia Mora S/V Jan’s Felion; 2nd place – Edward Stacey S/V Zingara
Appetizer: 1st place – Fabiola Hirschhorn S/V Luna; 2nd place – Phillipa King S/V Mystic Soul Dessert; 1st Place – Hannah Staddon S/V Much Gusto; 2nd place – Vernice Simon S/V Felicia
The BVI Culinary Contest was sponsored by Moet & Chandon, distributed by Caribbean Cellars. Best Overall was awarded to Nia Mora with her octopus main course titled; The Kraken after the wreck dive site at Long Bay, Virgin Gorda paired with the spectacular Sunken Treasure Chest dessert.
THE KRAKEN by Chef Nia Mora, Yacht Jan’s Felion
Sous Vide Octopus and Coconut Lime Langoustines with three sauces and Herb Salad
For the Octopus:
Bring a pot of water to boil with lemon halved and a tablespoon of salt. Clean octopus (if whole) by removing beak and head. Blanch octopus for ten minutes and place in ice bath.
Prepare sous vide bag by placing in one knob of grated ginger, two cloves of grated garlic, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, splash of rice wine vinegar, splash soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon garlic chili paste or sambal or sriracha. I also added crushed blueberries for color. This is an easy way to achieve a Korean BBQ marinade. Vacuum seal and sous vide for five hours at 171ºF/77ºC. Ice bath the octopus in the sous vide bag afterwards. Allow to cool. Gently remove. To finish, sear on high heat with a knob of butter and splash of olive oil. The octopus will become slightly crispy. This will be the star of your dish; a succulent and tender tendril!
For the Langoustines:
Clean by removing the shell from the body, but leave head and tail to preserve flavor. I usually devein my shell fish. Marinate in full coconut cream with fresh lime zest, grated garlic, grated ginger, chili paste, lemon basil, and cilantro. Chill for minimum of one hour. To finish, sear on high heat and squeeze fresh lime juice on Langoustines with salt to taste.
Blueberry Ginger Sauce:
Simmer frozen blueberries, rice wine vinegar, ginger, and caster sugar to taste. Should be slightly tart. Blend or high and strain through fine mesh sieve.
Raspberry Habanero sauce:
Simmer frozen raspberries, caster sugar, and half of one habanero chili. Allow to simmer until desired heat is reached from chili. Blend on high and strain through line mesh sieve.
Avocado Purée sauce:
Blend a roasted tomatillo, lime juice, salt, cilantro, and one avocado on high until creamy.
I chose to incorporate fresh fruit of the day which were blueberries and honeydew melon. I also utilized julienned cucumber, pickled red onion, spring onions, lemon basil, mint, cilantro, and fried garlic.
Fish Ceviche with Coconut Milk and Ginger by Chef Fabiola Hirschhorn, Yacht Luna
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Chilling time: 30 – 45 minutes
Serves: 4 – 6 as an appetizer
½ cup red onion, very thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
½ fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tsp finely grated fresh gingerroot
½ to ¾ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (3-5 limes*)
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 lb. fresh firm, sashimi grade, white-flesh fish (mahi mahi, snapper, corvina, etc.) cut into slices about ¼-inch thick
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. chopped lemon basil
1 tsp. lemon caviar
Place the sliced onion in a bow of generously salted water to soak (removes bitterness). Place the garlic, jalapeno, gingerroot, lime juice, and coconut milk in a blender and purée until smooth. In a large bowl, toss the puréed mixture with the fish slices. Stir to incorporate, cover and chill for about 40 minutes.
Drain and rinse the onions and add them along with the cilantro and lemon basil to the mixture. Taste and adjust the salt and lime; add more if necessary. Serve in a small bowl. Garnish.
Note: Roll or warm the limes before squeezing, to get more juice!