Art on the Plate: Hyannis Yacht Club

Cape Cod Life  /  September/October 2020 /

Writer: Elizabeth Shaw / Photographer: Elizabeth Shaw 

Restaurant Manager: Bob Signoriello · Executive Chef: Suraj “Sunny” Chopra

The sun is shining on a perfect Cape Cod summer day; the seagulls cry overhead as kids board their Optis to learn the art of sailing. Sitting on the deck or in front of one of the endless windows inside, enjoying a gourmet meal, one can soak up the vistas of an idyllic beach day. Nestled along Lewis Bay, the Hyannis Yacht Club provides its guests with unmatched hospitality and show-stopping dishes. 

The dining room on the upper floor of the club, The Captain’s Table, features panoramic views of the stunning water beyond. Outdoor seating on the two decks offers an immersive experience, while the dark wood and endless yachting memorabilia inside is evocative of the below decks of any of the boats docked below. While the Hyannis Yacht Club is private, two levels of memberships are available, depending on interests. For those who want to take advantage of the beautiful bay, the Yachting membership is perfect. If fine dining is more your speed, the Associate Dining membership provides members with the top-notch service, food and impeccable views from The Captain’s Table Dining Room. “Being a private member service, we want to ensure members have a great experience and feel valued. It’s not about the bottom line here; it’s about making sure guests enjoy themselves,” says Restuarant Manager Bob Signoriello. “I want people to feel like they’re special here. It’s their home away from home. Our goal is to have staff who remember everyone’s names, so when you come here, it’s more than just a restaurant, it’s a family.”

Chef Suraj Chopra, known as Chef Sunny to his co-workers, creates fresh, innovative specials for guests at The Captain’s Table. For him, new ideas and creations are always on rotation, with a notebook filled with sketches of dishes he plans to cook. He says, “Every single special I do, or anything I’ve ever made, I always draw it out first. You have to draw it, otherwise, you won’t know what it’s going to look like.” He has always approached his cooking and plating with the knowledge that guests eat with their eyes first. “When the plate is put down, you want that ‘Wow.’ If you don’t have the ‘Wow,’ it’s not fun,” he laughs. Chef Sunny credits his mentor during an internship in India, who showed him a new twist on a classic Indian rice cake dish called Idlis, saying, “This chef took the rice cake, punched a hole in it, and filled it with chocolate. It blew my mind. I obviously knew what it was, I knew what chocolate was, but I didn’t know you could make something like that and mix them together. I worked under that chef for four months and completely fell in love with cooking.”

That love for cooking is clear in everything he makes. Above, pan seared scallops dusted with fennel pollen are accompanied by a triangle of watermelon, which was compressed for eight hours with a ginger sugar vinaigrette. It’s then topped with a shaved white asparagus, shaved fennel and frisée salad which is tossed with orange zest and olive oil, and dotted with an heirloom tomato and jalapeño jam, and a mango, kaffir and lime a la nage. Everything is garnished with Thai basil, chive blossoms and cress. Chef Sunny says scallops are some of his favorite things to cook, and that using them for this dish was an easy choice, but how to make them fresh and exciting had him pulling out his notebook for inspiration. “I sketched for six days,” he laughs. He then experimented with the shapes and sizes of the watermelon before deciding on the perfect triangle, which then allows for symmetrical placement of the three scallops, one on each corner, while the cyclone of salad on top adds height and levity to the dish. When asked if there’s any advice he would give to aspiring chefs, Chef Sunny says “It doesn’t matter how long it takes to master your basic techniques, they will build the foundation upon which every dish is created.”

For more information on the Hyannis Yacht Club, visit hyannisyachtclub.org!

Explore more Art on the Plate here!

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth Shaw is a former assistant editor, photographer & videographer for Cape Cod Life Publications. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Elizabeth spent many summers on the Cape, before she and her family moved down full time in 2016. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island as a double major in Writing & Rhetoric and Film Media, and started at Cape Cod Life the following fall. In her free time, she takes as many pictures of her dog, Watson, as possible, in between beach trips.