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Arados and the Joël Robuchon legacy
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Arados and the Joël Robuchon legacy

Camper & Nicholsons
25th May 2020

The late Joël Robuchon earned an unsurpassed 32 Michelin stars. Best of all, he mentored countless chefs, Gordon Ramsay included, who forward his legacy today. The Robuchon spirit recently set sail aboard Sunseeker’s flagship yacht Arados. For the finest dining between Miami and Monaco, it’s anchors away.

Joël Robuchon was the most garlanded chef in restaurant history. Yet the culinary star once stated that “food is not enough”. That’s why he started dressing his chefs in black. A lighting director was then commissioned to spotlight the hands and faces working in his open kitchen. Robuchon’s raison d'être was to elevate fine dining to high theatre. As the Frenchman earned an unrivalled 32 Michelin stars across a dozen restaurants during a 60-year-career, he did so with aplomb.

Robuchon was born in the spring of 1945 in humble surroundings. By 15, he was an apprentice chef. By 21, he had joined the Compagnons du Devoir, an only- in-France mentorship programme operating since medieval times, which pairs young chefs with wise masters across the nation. A few years later his career was literally reaching for the stars. Robuchon was charged with managing 90 cooks at the brand new Concorde Lafayette Hotel, a 1,000-room skyscraper that still ranks as one of the tallest buildings in Paris. Yet the ideal of teaching a new generation, as he had been apprenticed himself, was ever present.

Hotelier-restaurateur Christophe Aldunate takes up the story. “I met Mr Robuchon when I was a 17-year-old kitchen apprentice myself,” he explains. “He was an idol and mentor to scores of young chefs.” Without Robuchon’s mentorship, there would be no Gordon Ramsay and no Frédéric Anton, both three-star Michelin chefs. “We were very close during the last 5 years when we agreed to open his signature restaurants in Geneva and New York,” continues Aldunate. “In fact, in many cities where you find a Camper & Nicholsons office, including Hong Kong, London and Monaco, you’ll find a Joël Robuchon restaurant too.”

Alas, the next course might require a little more preparation. For the Joël Robuchon dining experience is about to set sail.

In 2017, the hospitality group that Arados is part of purchased 48m M/Y Arados, one of the largest and most advanced Sunseeker ever produced. Another Frenchman, Pierre-Yves Rochon, the designer of the Hotel George V in Paris and The Savoy in London, was tasked with her interiors. Her Instagram feed @motoryacht_arados profiles her prowling lines as she strides the Mediterranean from Sicily to Santorini. The modernist dining salon could feature in the S.Pellegrino list of Top 50 restaurants. The only difference is that instead of art on the walls, this full beam space has windows that overlook an ever-changing seascape beyond.

As Aldunate explains, Robuchon’s decades of mentorship allows the legacy to continue courtesy of the chefs who worked alongside him. “ The two-star chef Christophe Bellanca at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York worked with Mr Robuchon for 18 years. We have have similarly starred chefs to continue the great man’s legacy.” These include Olivier Jean, who worked with Mr Robuchon for 11 years. He is currently training Arados’s chef John Christie, just as Robuchon transmitted culinary knowledge to him. “ That’s the link we want to create between our restaurants and yacht.”

How else can the Robuchon legacy be emulated? “One important element of his gastronomy is that we respect food,” explains Aldunate. The Frenchman loved to source locally and seasonally. Aboard the Sunseeker flagship that includes speeding to orchards along Italy’s Cinque Terre coast in the Castoldi jet tender, alongside Croatian farmer’s markets for almonds, figs and plums.

Other toys can also assist chef John with his dishes, which include a Dali-esque ensemble of seared scallops, and a lemon meringue tart with edible flowers that stand like sails. Two mountain bikes grant access to lemon groves in Menton and vineyard rows in Montenegro. Kayaks and paddleboards can be used to forage samphire and urchins from the Adriatic and Aegean. And thanks to Greek and Croatian charter licenses, fresh fish like barbounia (a type of red mullet) and orhan (an Adriatic amberjack) can be hauled in using Arados’s fishing lines.

Another enduring factor in Arados’s dining room is Robuchon’s desire for excellence. “He was a gentleman and was always polite,” recalls Aldunate. “But he was also extremely demanding, always asking the best from his team.” Here Aldunate’s experience in the hospitality sector helped him to put perfection on a plate. “Four seasons ago we were new in the yachting industry,” he concedes. “ That being said, the level of service, security and privacy is very close to the hospitality industry, so top hotels, restaurants and superyachts have common ground.”

The Robuchon vision helped Aldunate’s team understand how dynamic yachting truly is. “Hotels have evolved,” he explains, “in that a great stay is far more than just having the most beautiful room. The same is true for yachts, where having the longest or fastest isn’t a match for a truly unique experience.” In short, like most other Camper & Nicholsons yachts, Arados has the beach club and capable crew to create lifetime memories. Plus levels of dining to match anything in New York or Paris.

Just don’t expect boeuf bourguignon and blanquette de veau to be served in the summer heat off Sicily or Santorini. Robuchon’s method of crafting simple ingredients into gastronomic excellence began when he was poached from Paris by Tokyo’s Nikko Hotel. “In the early eighties it was rare for chefs to travel as they do today,” explains Aldunate. “But Mr Robuchon grew to love the purity and simplicity of Japanese ingredients”. Two Michelin stars followed in quick succession. As did the refinement of heavy, saucy Gallic cuisine into a lighter, contemporary French fare. On his return from Japan, cooking bible Gault Millau christened him "Chef of the Century".

What Robuchon loved about Japan, “was the precision, the discipline, the fact that everything, and I mean everything, had to be perfect,” says Aldunate. He offers another example. Aldunate’s hospitality group owns a chocolate factory in Geneva. “Our principal Japanese client takes two tons of chocolate per year, but always refuses to accept around 0.5% of this shipment if the box is not 100% perfect. Perhaps the ribbon is not tied properly, or the cover wrinkled. That ethos carries over into food preparation.”

There’s just one problem with perfection. It keeps one hungry for more. Aldunate’s own bete noire is that Japanese sushi is so well made that he can’t bear to eat in a French sushi shop any more. How about aboard Arados? “ That would be different,” concludes Aldunate, “because chef John would prepare it just like the great Mr Robuchon himself.”

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