- 47.5m | Bilgin Yachts | 2017 (2019)
With a chef like Ioannis (John) Karagiannis, who has studied an array of cuisine including Thai, Indian, Lebanese, Italian, Chinese and sushi, guests on board Starburst III can enjoy a global culinary adventure like no other. Not only did he receive a scholarship to Paul Bocuses’ culinary institute and train with the industry’s finest in France, he also worked his culinary genius at Mansion House in London - the residence of the lord mayor of London.
Now a seasoned superyacht chef, Chef John enjoys carte blanche to spare no expenses when it comes to sourcing the very best produce to craft dishes that make his clients happy, implementing the same philosophy he was taught on land - source the best ingredients, respect the product and prepare everything to the highest quality possible.
“Working on superyachts means I have had to grow and adapt to the preferences, needs and demands of my clients. I am now very well-rounded in many cuisines, and hope to learn even more to be able to cater to every need clients of mine may have in the future,” says Chef John, who is always at hand to ensure owner and clients enjoy an unparalleled culinary experience on board MY Starburst III.
We catch up with Chef John to discover what it’s like to be responsible for treating the taste buds of the most sophisticated palates whilst out on the open sea.
Can you start off by telling us about your background and how you became a superyacht chef?
Sure! I was classically trained in Lyon, and after receiving a scholarship to Paul Bocuses’ culinary institute, I went to work for him in multiple of his establishments under highly decorated French chefs. After France, I worked for Pascal Ausignac in London before moving to Mansion House - the residence of the lord mayor of London.
It’s there that I realised working away from restaurants and not being restricted by a budget in a private setting, like on a superyacht, that I can have carte blanche to spare no expenses when it comes to sourcing the very best produce to make the dishes that make both me and my clients happy.
What are your specialties and what is your favourite type of cuisine?
Though I started off as a classically trained French chef, and do hold French cuisine very dear to my heart, I can no longer classify myself as a French chef. Working on superyachts means I have had to grow and adapt to the preferences, needs and demands of my clients. I am now very well-rounded in many cuisines, and hope to learn even more to be able to cater to every need clients of mine may have in the future.
Where do you get your inspiration and ideas?
I am always thinking about new dishes to create. If I need to focus on creating I may go to a local market, but I find the best inspiration comes when you are not expecting it. I could be doing a mundane task, and out of nowhere an idea I can’t let go of comes to my mind.
Who are your chef heroes, and who has influenced your style of cooking?
I wouldn’t say that I have any chef heroes or have been specially influenced by one person or style. My influence is a collection of my experiences, whether that is in or out of the kitchen. I have worked in Greece, France, England, Switzerland and Turkey, cooking Italian, French, Middle Eastern, Asian, Greek and many more cuisines. Therefore I would say my style of food is influenced by my life experiences.
What’s the secret to cooking high-quality food on board compared to ashore?
The secret to cooking high quality food on board is no different to on land. I implement the same philosophy I was taught on land - source the best ingredients, respect the product and prepare everything to the highest quality possible.
How would you describe the culinary experience for guests on board MY Starburst III?
The experience of each guest is tailormade to suit their preferences. Whether that is fresh, light and healthy or rich and decadent, fine dining plated food or a more casual family affair, I’m here to make guests happy and I take pride in doing my job well.
What is your signature dish?
I wouldn’t say I have one. I pride myself in growing and evolving as a chef and try my best to not repeat a dish too often. Currently one of my favourite dishes is duck margret caramelised with praline lyonnais, parsnip and white chocolate purée with Earl Grey macerated blackberries.
What are some of your favourite charter destinations in terms of the local ingredients available?
Anywhere in the European side of the Med - this region offers some of the best produce I have ever had the pleasure of working with.
How do you manage special dietary requirements - are you seeing more demand for vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free meals?
I have had to deal with a lot of dietary restrictions over the years, and in the beginning I found it quite challenging. However now I am more than accustomed to dealing with the growing amount of these needs. I find people with dietary requirements often feel left out, so I do my very best to hide the fact they are receiving a different meal to their peers. However I will verbally make it clear that though their dish is different, I will do my best to make all dishes look as identical as possible.
How do you cater for young children?
When it comes to people’s children, we pay the utmost respect to the parents’ wishes and guidelines given to us. I treat them as if they are law.
And special events and parties?
I’m more than comfortable catering for events and parties, whether that is canapés, buffet food or anything in between.
As well as creating beautiful dishes, do you have any input with tablescaping together with the steward/esses?
The stews and I always discuss the table setup, and it changes daily depending on what I am planning to serve. I leave the creative side of that up to them though. The stewardesses on board prepare some of the finest dining table settings I have ever had the pleasure of seeing
What do you most enjoy about working as a superyacht chef?
Apart from getting to spend time on some of the most beautiful coastlines I have ever seen and having a great view of the stars at night, I would say it’s the quality of ingredients I get to work with.
What have been some of the highlights and best moments while working on board MY Starburst III?
I can’t say there is one specific moment, rather a collection of moments. At the end of a meal or a charter, when the guests show their appreciation - whether that be a compliment, a round of applause or a well worded letter to let me know that happy and enjoyed my food and their week upon the boat – I can’t ask for anything more.
Langoustine carpaccio with a kaffir lime dressing, Thai asparagus and tempura herbs
Wild sea bass with a tamarind, soy and coriander marinade, pea veloute, roast capsicum and chili coulis, roast parsnip and lotus root crisps
Lemongrass and coconut crème brule
Pan fried scallops, salsify braised in a lemongrass jus and fried Enokitaki mushrooms
Almond crusted red snapper, roast fennel, garlic spinach and a cardamom and saffron buerre blanc sauce
Star anise and vanilla roasted pineapple with a coconut chantilly, crushed pistachios and toasted coconut flakes