‘Celebrity chefs’ at sea
efore closing El Bulli (repeatedly lauded as the world’s best restaurant), Spanish chef Ferrán Adrià said: “Making food travel is a serious challenge. You wouldn’t have a surgeon operating on you at home, so why would you think a country’s gastronomy would travel to you?” He was wrong.
The celebrity chef boom takes to the high seas aboard food-centric luxury cruises. For instance, that cruise ship that departed from Incheon on March 31? Crystal Symphony included overnights in some of the most important cities in Asia (Beijing, Hiroshima, Tokyo…), but the highlight was Chef Martin Yan. The Asian food expert was one of the special guests making culinary magic at the Crystal Wine & Food Festival, just as Chef Nobu did at previous editions of the festival.
The best burgers at sea
Chef Guy Fieri teamed up with Carnival Cruise Line in 2011. Last year, they designed a new project: a smokehouse for the Carnival Magic ship. The restaurant will serve meat slow cooked in a real smoker, since that’s “how you cook the finest meat,” according to the platinum blond chef.
Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa is as much a celebrity as he is a chef. Nobu rubs shoulders with Robert De Niro, co-owner of more than half of his restaurants, and had a cameo in Scorsese’s movie ‘Casino.’ After taking his fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine to more than 20 countries, his food now sails the seas thanks to Crystal Cruises. In addition to the 30 restaurants he has all over the globe, his roster also includes Silk Road and Sushi Bar, found on the ships Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. Nobu trained all the chefs personally and occasionally visits the cruise ship to share his culinary art with the rest of the passengers.
Gala dinners, cooking lessons and even ‘Top Chef’-style competitions await foodies embarking on a Celebrity Cruises voyage. In addition to tastings and classes, passengers can join guest chefs on outings to suss out the culinary secrets of their destination. The latest ‘Top Chef Signature Sailing’ sailed on December 30 with four ‘cheftestants’ from the US edition of the hit show, but all cruises lasting more than five nights include activities inspired by the Grammy-winning phenomenon.
P&O Cruises have also put their money on haute cuisine by bringing on board their ‘food heroes,’ a team of the biggest names on the British culinary scene. Master baker Eric Lanlard, recognised as one of the best patissiers in the world, will be cruising the Atlantic Ocean three times in 2017. His ship will be calling at the Canary Islands, Madeira and Galicia, among other destinations. Lanlard is the mastermind behind ‘afternoon tea’ at The Epicurean (on Azura, Britannia and Ventura) and the Ocean Grill (aboard Arcadia).
The chef from famed London-based restaurant Benares is also part of the P&O Cruise dream team. Atul Kochhar has designed Sindhu, using the same formula that won him two Michelin stars. This year Kochhar will set sail on the Azure and Ventura. James Martin and Marco Pierre White will also be hosting cooking demos at ‘The Cookery Club’ on board the Britannia. Last but not least, Olly Smith, host and wine expert, has selected the wine list for The Glass House restaurant on five of the cruises: 40 labels that await passengers travelling to Lisbon, Seville and Lanzarote, among other destinations.
Let’s hope Ferran Adrià jumps on the trend and packs his “operating theatre.” Best get in line just in case. You wouldn’t want to miss that boat!