The food served in the specialty restaurants on board today’s cruise lines has become as exotic as the destinations they visit.
Increasingly, cruise lines have gone out of their way to sign up Michelin-starred celebrity chefs to rival some of the finest dining options on land. The new catchphrase is celebrity chefs at sea are cooking up a storm. Today, it is no longer fashionable to have just one specialty restaurant on board: leading cruise lines offer an array of eating experiences curated by famous chefs to sustain guests who want to dine on gastronomic meals at different restaurant venues.
Crystal Cruises – Nobu Matsuhisa
Acclaimed Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa has marked 16 years of collaboration with luxury Crystal Cruises with his classically styled Japanese cuisine infused with Peruvian influences. Launched as specialty restaurant Silk Road and The Sushi Bar on Crystal Serenity in 2003 and on Crystal Symphony five years later, the restaurants have been rebranded as Umi Uma and Sushi Bar aboard both ships. Nobu’s world-acclaimed cuisine will be expanded to the line’s polar-class ship, Crystal Endeavour, when she sets sail in 2020. Even in Antarctica, passengers will be able to enjoy Nobu’s signature dishes.
Celebrity Cruises- Daniel Boulud & Cornelius Gallagher
Celebrity Cruises signed up a second Michelin-starred chef, Daniel Boulud, to join Cornelius Gallagher for the launch of its new ship, Celebrity Edge, late last year. As vice president of food and beverage, Gallagher oversees the menu design across the line’s various restaurants. He was previously head of culinary operations at Royal Caribbean where he created the 18 dining concepts for the Quantum class ships. Boulud designs signature dishes for Luminae, the high-end restaurant exclusive to suite guests, offering a modern and eclectic experience. Boulud has also introduced Chef’s Table, a galley tour and five-course degustation with accompanying wines, plus guest chef appearances on board.
Princess Cruises – Richard Chen & Emmanuel Renaut
The former chef of Wing Lei – the first Chinese restaurant in North America to be awarded a Michelin star – has been courted by Princess Cruises to open Harmony on Majestic Princess. Richard Chen’s impeccable technique creates innovative dishes which are masterful in their balance of ingredients and flavours. Chen is also known as the “Duck Master” for his ability to create tender, flavourful duck dishes. His contemporary twist on classic Cantonese dishes always has passengers coming back for more.
Princess also signed up Emmanuel Renaut, a three-Michelin starred chef to launch La Mer on Majestic Princess where he crafts authentic French dishes with his signature flair. The casual bistro-style dining venue serves up the likes of lobster bisque, escargots, pate, roasted jumbo scallops and cod fish with caviar. Delicious.
Paul Gauguin Cruises – Jean-Pierre Vigato
Boutique line Paul Gauguin Cruises appointed Michelin-starred French chef Jean-Pierre Vigato to head the La Veranda restaurant where he has curated French cuisine such as snails with mascarpone and white truffle oil, grilled wahoo with Thai vegetables, and local pineapple jelly with Tahitian ice cream. He also serves lobster lasagne, braised veal, roast halibut and heart of beef tenderloin with beef tartare.
Seabourn Cruises – Thomas Keller
Keller is the only American celebrity chef to be awarded simultaneous three-star Michelin rankings for two different restaurants – the French Laundry and Per Se. Appointed by luxury line Seabourn, he opened his first specialty restaurant, The Grill by Thomas Keller, on board Seabourn Quest in 2016.
Guests dining at The Grill are treated to table-side preparations of Caesar salad, favourites like rib-eye steak, lobster thermidor, Dover sole meunière, and thick-cut prime New York strip steak. Fusing American and French cuisine, The Grill is also onboard Seabourn Encore, Sojourn and Ovation.
MSC Cruises – Roy Yamaguchi, Ramón Freixa & Harald Wohlfahrt
Not one but three Michelin-starred chefs have been signed up by MSC Cruises as it embarks on its massive expansion of cruise ships. Japanese-American Roy Yamaguchi is revered for his Hawaiian-inspired cuisine and is responsible for the Asian Market Kitchen comprising three restaurants – Teppanyaki, Sushi and Fusion on MSC Seaside.
The two-star Michelin Catalan chef Ramón Freixa launched Hola Tapas restaurant on MSC Bellissima earlier this year and debuted his Ocean Cay fish restaurant on MSC Seaview last year.
German chef Wohlfahrt is a three-star Michelin chef and has been voted one of the top 10 chefs in the world. He will develop a new menu for the private Yacht Club on MSC Meraviglia, MSC Splendida and MSC Preziosa.