Dining at sea is one of cruising’s true pleasures. On most cruise ships, meal times are a social event and the perfect opportunity to mix with family, friends and other diners whilst exploring new culturally-infused culinary delights.
Considering this, perhaps it’s no surprise that partnerships between famous chefs and cruise lines are becoming an increasingly popular sight. It’s an idea that benefits everybody involved; firstly, the cruise line gets the instant kudos of having a celebrity chef attached to their brand, and secondly – but perhaps most importantly – passengers get to enjoy some absolutely amazing dining experiences akin to the chef’s top restaurants at a fraction of the price.
Due to their rising popularity, we’ve chosen our top 3 favourite Celebrity Chef restaurants at sea:
Restaurant: Silk Road & The Sushi Bar
Chef: Nobuyuki ‘Nobu’ Matsuhisa
Ship: Crystal Serenity and Symphony
A name synonymous with fusion cooking, and more specifically the blending of traditional Japanese dishes with South American ingredients, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (or simply Nobu as he is more commonly known) is currently regarded as one of the most influential chefs worldwide and renowned for his inventive approach.
Nobu opened his first restaurant in 1987 but it wasn’t until 1994 when the New York NOBU restaurant opened that he truly hit the big-time. Counting Hollywood stars such as Robert De Niro amongst others as regular patrons, Nobu became hugely successful, leading to the opening of over 27 restaurants and franchises around the world.
Nobu began his partnership with Crystal Cruises in 2003, overseeing (and opening) two restaurants (Silk Road and The Sushi Bar) onboard Crystal’s Serenity. They quickly found favour with the luxury cruise line’s passengers and resulted in Cystal opening two similar restaurants on their second vessel, Serenity, in 2008.
For the Silk Road Restaurant, Nobo has created an inventive and eclectic menu influenced by Japanese, European and Peruvian cuisine. Guests can relax in the speciality Asian restaurant and enjoy dishes such as Grilled Wagyu Beef Rib-Eye with Wasabi Pepper Sauce and Nobu-Style lobster with Truffle-Yuzu Sauce. The Sushi Bar is open to anyone on a first come, first served basis and is a great stop for a light bite or for pre-dinner appetizers. The bar offers an assortment of Nobu’s innovative sushi and Sashimi, all delicately prepared in front of you. The menu includes the popular dishes Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeñ and Tuna Tataki with Ponzu Sauce.
Restaurant: The White Room
Chef: Marco Pierre White
Ship: P&O Ventura
Often labelled “the Godfather of modern cooking”, Marco Pierre White is nothing if not adventurous in terms of the avenues he explores. Whether it’s attempting to create the perfect British menu on prime-time British television or lending his name and expertise to a sit-down restaurant located at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge ground, (a venue more commonly associated with pies and burgers sold from the hatches of road-hardened white vans), White has continued to branch out, so it comes as no surprise that he has found his way on to one of the world’s most famous cruise lines; P&O Cruises.
In 2008 Pierre White launched the White Room onboard P&Os Venture. Noted for truly raising the bar of fine dining onboard P&O, the restaurant offers guests exquisite cuisine in surroundings akin to London’s top Mayfair restaurants. Guests can enjoy panoramic views or seat under the stars whilst dining from the delectable menu which offers Escalope of Salmon with Herbs and Tomato Vinaigrette and Grilled Medallions of Beef Fillet alla Roman.
Chef: Jacques Pepin
Ship: Oceania Marina
America’s most popular French chef, Jacques Pepin has enjoyed international success over the years having presented various cookery shows, wrote a food column for the New York Times and had over 20 cookery books published. Now Pepin has collaborated with Oceania Cruises to bring their guests the best of modern French cuisine.
Born in France, Pepin began his career as an apprentice chef in Lyon at the age of just 13. By the age of 24 he was already on his way to becoming a culinary icon after cooking for three French Head of States including President Charles de Gaulle. Later he moved to New York and worked in various restaurants as a head chef, learning American cookery and perfecting his unique artistry and gourmet dishes.
Renowned for his culinary achievements, Pepin seemed an obvious choice for Oceania to appoint as Executive Culinary Director. ‘Jacques’ the first restaurant at sea (and on land) to bear his name, opened this year onboard Oceania’s latest ship Marina. The Parisian-style bistro serves its guests classic French cuisine with a modern twist; dishes include the traditional Coq Au Vin and succulent rotisserie chicken. Every aspect of the Jacques restaurant has been lovingly designed by Pepin himself; from the stylish deco (including art from Jacques’ personal collection) to the rich fabrics and beautiful tableware.
Have you eaten at any of these restaurants? Please leave a comment below!
Copyright. Clare Funnell, The Cruise Line (2011).