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Project X’s chef Ricardo De Zwaan on where and what to eat
13th November 2023

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PROJECT X Luxury Motor Yacht for Charter | C&N
88.01m | Golden Yachts Athens | 2022
9 Cabins | 12 Guests | 28 Crew

From: € 1,200,000 p/w


Project X’s chef Ricardo De Zwaan on where and what to eat

Ricardo De Zwaan is famed for his creativity. His dishes perfectly reflect his personality – playful and fun yet incredibly complex and rich. He brings a unique perspective to the kitchen, which has been well enjoyed by guests onboard Golden Yachts’ 88m Project X

Project X is a firm favourite with charter guests for many reasons, and Ricardo’s flair in the kitchen is certainly one of them. Ricardo has worked in numerous Michelin-star restaurants and an incredible list of iconic and world-famous superyachts. After 32 years of cooking professionally, he is “still enjoying it as if it was his first day.” 

We caught up with Ricardo during a moment of downtime. 

Ricardo, can you briefly introduce yourself and your style of cooking? 

My name’s Ricardo De Zwaan, but most people call me D1&Only. I have Colombian roots, yet spent most of my early life in the Netherlands. Cooking became a passion of mine when I was around 16 years old, and I hold a Culinary Degree in French Cuisine. 

I love to create diverse dishes that explode with colour and taste. I’ve been lucky enough to work as a chef aboard superyachts for 13 years now and have cruised around most corners of the world. I’m a happy, energetic chef who’s always smiling and enjoys all the good things life has to offer.

Where are the best markets in the world for provisioning? 

The best markets are in Japan. Nowhere worldwide rivals the Japanese markets on freshness and quality. I’m sorry but it’s true. Strawberries are packed like Rolexes, Melons carry a $75 price tag and are the best melons you’ve ever tasted. And the Wagyu! There is no question about it: Japan is the Mecca of Wagyu.

But if you’re in the market for vibrant, fragrant and varied produce, you must go to Thailand. The Thai markets are aromatic, richly diverse and awash with colour. It’s also an experience shopping there – the atmosphere, the smells, the hustle and bustle. It’s fun. It’s crazy cheap. And everything is ‘just wow’. 

Can you tell us about an under-the-radar restaurant that you know and love?

I fell in love with a tiny family-owned restaurant I stumbled across in Greece. It was tucked away down a beautifully lit cobbled sidestreet, close enough to the sea that you could hear the waves as you dined al fresco. The location was stunning and the food was outrageously good. I ordered octopus. It was delicious – super soft, and super tender. Perfectly cooked. 

I went straight to the kitchen after I had finished to pay my compliments to the chef. And I had to know how he cooked it so well. He told me to come by at 9:00 am the following morning and he’ll teach me. I still cook octopus the same way today! 

Where is the best place you’ve discovered for a picnic or barbeque? And what makes it so special?

We can always find the best places to set up a barbeque or a picnic for our charter guests, as I work with an exceptionally knowledgeable crew. They’re fantastic and wherever we’re chartering they can find the ideal location to match the mood and needs of the guests. 

But if I had to pick my favourite barbeque location, it would be in the British Virgin Islands. When I was a chef onboard a small 115m cruise ship, with 100 guests and 92 crew, we used to visit a secluded beach there every Saturday. It was that good, it became a tradition. 

We would set up a floating bar from surfboards to serve Champagne and Caviar. It was a hit! The guests had to wade out into the sea to collect their starter and drink from the crew, and they always returned with a big smile on their faces. I would be busy working the grill on the beach preparing a gigantic barbecue for the 100 guests. It was special. And the island we moored at is so small and secluded – our cruise ship was nearly the same size! 

If there’s one thing you wished you knew when starting work as a chef aboard superyachts, what would it be? 

There is no such thing as being ‘too specific’ when placing orders with suppliers. They’re typically fantastic provisioners and can keep you well-stocked anywhere in the world – without them, I couldn’t do my job! 

But provisions from around the world from different suppliers can vary greatly. I made two orders of watermelons from two different suppliers before – the first batch weighed 1kg each, and the second batch was ginormous. 10kg each! When you have five 10kg watermelons on a 40m motor yacht, along with all the other provisions for a charter, you can run into difficulties. So be specific! It’s my golden rule for ordering. 

Any memorable milestones and awards that you’d like to share? 

I won’t forget the summer of 2017. It was crazy. I was working as the chef onboard the 88m sailing yacht Maltese Falcon and we had just completed a trip with the owner before heading directly to the Monaco Yacht Show, where I was participating in the annual chef’s competition. 

I felt the event went well, but I didn’t know the results right away, as we had to rush off before the ceremony to pick up our next guests. Anticipation was high. I wanted to know how I performed. It turned out I had won. I was thrilled!

Two years later at the Barcelona International Boat Show in 2019, I was awarded most creative in their chef’s competition. Another proud moment!

Project X was launched just last year and immediately acknowledged for her unique design and high number of lifestyle amenities. Ricardo is part of a 28 crew that ensures every charter trip is unforgettable, and the menu he has created is incredibly varied. Guests will be treated to cuisines from all over the world, including Greece, Thailand, Italy, and the Middle East. You can find out more about Project X and her charter availability here. 

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