During the summer of 2013, Olivier Fournier visited the French Riviera. The native of Quebec, Canada, was following his dual passions — travel and food — and wanted to see how fine dining along the Côte d’Azur compared with the fare he had sampled in Australia, Greece, Quatar and beyond.
“I went to St. Tropez and saw the boats,” he says. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, what is this?’”
Fournier, then 32, abandoned his land-based cooking career for a job in the galley of the 92-foot Mangusta Scratch, where he learned as much about himself as he did about the yachting industry. “I liked it,” he says. “I love cooking. I love traveling. You can’t have everything; you have to sacrifice some things. I live in a backpack. I can’t have a wife or kids. But I like it here.”
PEDIGREE: 196-foot CRN built in 2011.
ACCOMMODATIONS: 12 guests in six staterooms including a main-deck master and upper-deck VIP.
THIS WINTER: Caribbean charter debut, following her first Mediterranean charter season.
SUMMER 2018: likely Spains’s Balearic Isles.
FOR FUN IN THE SUN: two Castoldi jet tenders, Sea-Doos, a Seabob and more.
MANAGEMENT COMPANY: Burgess Yachts.
His ability to adapt meant that Scratch became his springboard to increasingly larger, and largely respected, yachts. He also worked aboard the 173-foot Oceanco Sunrise and the 178-foot Alloy Tiara, among others. Then, just before the MYBA Charter Show in Barcelona, Spain, this past spring, Fournier became chef aboard the 196-foot CRN Ramble on Rose — a 2011 build that was making her charter debut with a new owner, an all-new crew and a chance to become one of the top yachts available for summer charter in the South of France, right back where Fournier’s yachting journey had begun.
The chef, while still getting to know the Ramble on Rose crew and facilities, had seven days to plan a menu, provision the ingredients and create a meal that would impress the world’s top charter brokers and press. He had to collaborate with the stewardesses on decorations, on board a yacht where they were all still trying to find the place mats, a yacht whose new owner hadn’t even decided which parts of the interior were going to be refit. In Fournier’s case, the work had to start in a galley where he’d barely had time to find the spice rack, and in a city hosting the charter show for the first time, meaning that he had to hunt for the best provisioning.
Most chefs and crew would have aimed for an achievable presentation, perhaps a three-course luncheon with lobster as the main. But the Ramble on Rose crew aimed far higher than achievable — creating a dining experience that was inspirational, one that showed their versatility and ability to adapt to whatever charter guests might desire.
The menu of “street food” bites they cooked and served from twin sun-deck grilling stations included 12 courses that were divided into four parts: Asian, Eastern Mediterranean and American, plus dessert. The idea was that any one part could expand into a full meal for charter guests who enjoy various types of cuisine.
The crew found street-style containers to add a fun twist beyond the yacht’s fine cutlery and dishes, serving ostrich sliders in red-and-white-striped cartons; Vietnamese duck omelets with upscale skewers; and fresh-made juice blends including pineapple-orange-carrot (a sample of the blends charter guests might order, say, after a morning of snorkeling) in finger-length bottles.
To further elevate the Eastern Mediterranean portion of the afternoon, the crew wrapped the sun-deck cushions in pastel silks and added a dangling light overhead, one that looked straight out of a Turkish rug shop. The setting was ideal for serving baba ghanoush, hummus and tyrokafteri, all with a complement of yogurt and za’atar (a Middle Eastern herb blend that hinted at Fournier’s experience in that region).
Perhaps most impressive, though, is considering what the Ramble on Rose crew might achieve with more than a few days’ notice. As Fournier put it, “It will be my galley soon.” The possibilities are mouthwatering.