How the chefs aboard Ponant’s Commandant Charcot create fine cuisine during a 25-night voyage

“When you work ashore, you can ask for vegetables, meat, fish every day. On a cruise like this most of our produce is frozen because we have no choice.

The fine details

In January next year, Le Commandant Charcot will sail from Ushuaia in Argentina to Dunedin in New Zealand for a 28-night voyage in the Ross Sea. In February, she will sail from Dunedin to Ushuaia. Rates start at $66,760 per person for a Prestige cabin.

Loading supplies in Punta Arenas is another challenge: “When you’re in Paris, you’re used to working with particular products. In Chile you can get similar products, but they are not the same. So you have to adapt. »

To add to the pressures, on land you come home after a shift; on this ship, the chef and his staff live together. “I wouldn’t say it’s easier or harder, but there is a difference. Because here, I’m also the father of the team.

Then there is the weather challenge. “When we have rough seas it is very, very difficult to work,” says Motsch, “but little by little you get used to it.”

Sila restaurant.

Rough seas remind pastry chef Julien Arnaud of the event that put him on the road to Commander Charcot. A business lawyer by training, he was working for a logistics company in Tokyo when the Fukushima earthquake hit in 2011.

He was used to Japan’s earthquakes, but most of them were “like, 10 seconds, max.” This one was two minutes. It was endless, you have no idea, and you have time to think about your life, about what you’re going to do. That’s when I decided to turn to pastry.

When The Australian magazine Financial Review Buttons him, the tattooed father-of-two, 48, has been on the ship for two months and describes the first few weeks as “intense, very difficult”.

Not that you can say. Arnaud and his assistants serve an array of madeleines, lemon meringue tarts, chocolate fondants, panna cottas, Belgian waffles, cheesecakes, crème brûlées, Parisian flans, brownies and so on – each easily the best of its kind that I have tasted.

Her favourite? Lemon meringue, “because it was the first dessert I made for the woman who became my wife. That’s how I got her. And before I got on the boat, I made him one.

The writer traveled as a guest of Ponant.

AFR Magazine’s July issue – the culinary issue – comes out Friday, June 24 inside The Australian Financial Review. Follow AFR Mag on Twitter and Instagram.

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