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By Dorie Cox and Tom Serio
From the dock, it’s hard to know what interior crew do. To remedy that, two companies run table-setting competitions for stews and other crew to showcase their skills. Several versions of interior competitions have been held for several years at several different boat shows.
At the 57th annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this year, Liquid Yacht Wear sponsored the Table Top Challenge and Aqualuxe Outfitting runs the Top Notch Tabletop competition.
The crew on M/Y Sovereign, a 180-foot Newcastle, took top honors and prizes in both competitions. Chief Stew Kate Burns, 2nd Stew Ana Huertas and Stew Tonia Bradford turned the yacht into a colorful homage to the gods of indigenous people.
“It’s awesome, it’s what we were aiming for,” Burns said. “Our setting was visually pleasing and had a story behind it. A lot of research went into its creation.”
Burns came up with her Aztec theme while on the job.
“I was on watch recently and had an epiphany where the display could represent food, the coming together and the indigenous people of the Americas,” she said.
Her setting not only appealed in those ways, but mini volcanoes dotted the table, judges were offered local cocoa drinks and period music played in the background.
It was a collaborative effort by Burns, Huertas and Bradford.
“It was a huge effort, but we were a killer team,” Burns said, and added that Huertas is a fine arts pr
ofessional. Working on Sovereign just two weeks, Burns said she wanted to show her capabilities to the team.
Stew talent was strong across the show and judges could not choose a clear winner for second place in the Table Top Challenge. M/Y Lady M II, a 164-foot Hakvoort, and M/Y Sea Dreams, a 132-foot Northcoast, were both honored in second place.
An opulent fruit bowl was the centerpiece of M/Y Lady M II’s dining room in a design by Chief Stew Sophie Leach and Stew Christy Jordan. A gold pyramid captured the theme on M/Y Sea Dreams in a setting created by Chief Stew Maryann Condy and 2nd Stew Rosa Sabatino.
Third place was awarded to the group effort on M/Y Excellence, a 150-foot Richmond Marine. Chief Stew Samantha Tester led the team of 2nd Stew Maryka Hall Moreau, 3rd Stew Vicky Shaw, First Officer Guy Seymour and Deckhand Ruan Van Der Berg.
Aqualuxe Outfitting’s Top Notch Tabletop hosts an internet showcase of top talents and tips from competitors in the show. This year’s most artistic napkin fold was awarded to Irma Malabanan and Melvin Malabanan on M/Y Nita K. The most enchanting centerpiece design was awarded to Mimi Sarancic, Galina Cazanli and Valentina Voitenko on M/Y Galactica Super Nova. And Anick Chiche and Michelle Mayer of M/Y Lady Pegasus II won with their best tip, a Harvest Cocktail made of vanilla vodka, Bailey’s Irish cream, pumpkin spice and almond milk.
Dorie Cox is editor of Triton Today and Tom Serio is photographer for Triton Today. Comment below.