Yachts International - - Contents - By Andrew Parkin­son

Sit­ting down with Chef Benoit Mercier on a crisp Novem­ber day, I could hardly tell that the ac­claimed chef was about to em­bark on yet an­other fre­net­i­cally paced win­ter char­ter sea­son in the Caribbean. At his home in the pic­turesque coun­try­side near Mon­treal in the prov­ince of Que­bec, Mercier is re­laxed and jovial, a man clearly at peace.

In the time since we pro­filed him in Cel­lar & Gal­ley back in 2015, he’s been work­ing on a new side busi­ness dur­ing the off-sea­son­son: a Ja­panese holis­tic prac­tice called Reiki. It’s based on the idea that a life-force en­ergy flows through us and causes us to be well. If one’s life-force en­ergy is low, then he is more likely to get sick or feel stress. If it’s high, he is more ca­pa­ble of be­ing happy and healthy. Reiki is ad­min­is­tered by pass­ing en­ergy into a client’s body through hands, but with­out mak­ing phys­i­cal con­tact.

“I’ve worked on peo­ple who had sore­ness, pain, even paral­y­sis,” Mercier says. “I once worked on a client who was suf­fer­ing from to­tal paral­y­sis in his arm. Af­ter a 40-minute ses­sion, he was able to pick up a glass. That was amaz­ing. An­other client was deal­ing with lin­ger­ing pain from a past bro­ken an­kle. His sore­ness com­pletely van­ished af­ter the treat­ment.”

The prac­tice crosses over to an­other of Mercier’s pas­sions: the culi­nary arts.

“You can do so many things with food us­ing en­ergy,” he says. “You can en­er­gize your water, your coffee in the morn­ing. The next time you have a cup of coffee, hold it in your hand and say, ‘I want to be happy and smile a lot to­day.’ You’ll see it works.”

Mercier started cook­ing for his fam­ily at an early age, pre­par­ing break­fasts on the week­ends. His cu­rios­ity led him to culi­nary school at the École Hôtelière des Lau­ren­tides in Que­bec. Since grad­u­a­tion, Mercier has trav­eled the world, vis­it­ing more than 30 coun­tries and work­ing in restau­rants along­side top chefs. Among them was the Miche­lin-starred restau­ra­teur Hiroyuki Hi­ra­matsu in Tokyo, where Mercier learned to ap­ply the feng shui dis­ci­pline to the culi­nary arts. “I learned how a kitchen could be run with­out a word spo­ken,” Mercier says.

It’s a prin­ci­ple he still em­ploys to this day as chef aboard the 130-foot (40-meter) West­port Far Niente. His zest for life and his

pas­sion for mak­ing peo­ple happy are con­ta­gious. An ex­ec­u­tive chef on yachts for nearly 20 years, Mercier is well versed in diet trends from ve­gan and gluten-free to raw and ke­to­genic. In 2015, he grad­u­ated from the In­sti­tute for In­te­gra­tive Nu­tri­tion in New York as a pro­fes­sional coach in im­prov­ing health and hap­pi­ness through nu­tri­tion.

“Peo­ple are eat­ing much lighter than they were 10 years ago,” Mercier says. “Di­etary pref­er­ences have be­come more ex­treme in re­cent years, es­pe­cially among the UHNWI crowd. The lat­est craze is the ke­to­genic diet: a high-fat, lit­tle-pro­tein, low-carb diet

‘i once worked on a client who was suf­fer­ing from to­tal paral­y­sis in his arm. af­ter a 40-minute ses­sion, he was able to pick up a glass. That was amaz­ing.’ —chef Benoit Mercier, on his part-time Reiki en­ergy heal­ing prac­tice

Chef Benoit Mercier M/Y Far NieNte

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