Crystal's Culinary Cruises Have Star Power

| October 21, 2009

The 2010 Crystal Culinary Cruises roster has celebrity star power, according to our new culinary editor.

This is a report from our cruise culinary editor Janice Wald Henderson. Janice has been a longtime contributor to many magazines, including Bon Appétit Magazine and Brides. Her articles have appeared in Vogue, Food & Wine, Eating Well, Cooking Light and numerous other publications. Janice is also the Los Angeles editor of the Essential Restaurant Guide at Janice Wald Henderson Cruise Culinary Editor

I was talking to Paul Motter about my role as the new Culinary Editor for CruiseMates and how I can best contribute to the site. Paul said the greatest thing I could do is share my personal knowledge of cuisine in a way that every cruiser, gourmet or novice, can appreciate.

So I just received a press release from Crystal Cruises about their Wine & Food Experiences of Discovery voyages for 2010. The actual press release is included at the bottom off this page. It's their 14th annual series. Itineraries include Auckland to Sydney, Istanbul to Barcelona and a closer-to-home roundtrip Los Angeles (Mexican Riviera).

Sail on one of the seven Wine & Food-themed cruises and rub elbows with top chefs, foodies, wine experts and mixologists. By the way, the latter is all the rage these days. A mixologist is a fancy way of saying a cocktail creator. (More on that subject another day.) Looking at Crystal's press release, I'd say the line has its finger on the food and wine world pulse. (Of course, Crystal is known for serving some of the best cruise cuisine. So the link is almost expected.) Upcoming guest experts run the gamut from culinary legends to current darlings of the foodie and wine scene. Expect culinary demonstrations, special dinners and wine tastings. And with a mixologist onboard, cocktail classes.

I don't know any of the mixologists on Crystal's list, but really, who wouldn't have a happy cruise sailing with Julio Bermejo, who is called the "U.S. Ambassador of Tequila?"

Among the many names on the chef list, André Soltner is a standout. His former Manhattan restaurant, Lutèce, was one of the most heralded restaurants in our country. Getting a reservation at Lut�ce was once as hard as getting a reservation at Spago Beverly Hills or New York's Per Se today.

This Frenchman often guests on Crystal. I once had the good fortune of lecturing on Crystal when Monsieur Soltner was onboard. Andr� is popular for a reason. He does a terrific job demonstrating recipes, as he is informative and, actually, funny. He has a twinkle in his eye and yet he's so distinguished. He's also modest, which makes an audience appreciate him even more.

Michael Mina is another series highlight. He's a chef who is demonstrating longevity and sizzle. His take on modern cooking is, well, sexy. Even his competitors admire his innovation. Michael Mina has evolved from a chef into a brand, and has successful restaurants in several states, like his namesake San Francisco restaurant and Nobhill Tavern in Las Vegas. And I bet he's autographing copies of his cookbook onboard.

If you're a fan of Moroccan cooking, you'd be hard-pressed to find an expert with more authority than Paula Wolfert. Paula has authored several cookbooks and is �ber-passionate about Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisine. She is smart and articulate, and should be a good choice for Crystal passengers, who like to learn when cruising.

Doug Frost will be a great lure for cruising wine lovers. He is one of only three experts worldwide to earn the two most coveted titles in the wine world: Master of Wine and Master Sommelier. It's nearly impossible to gain even one of those titles. The tests are unbelievably long and hard. Passengers sailing with Doug should be able to toss any wine question his way -- no matter how obscure - and he probably can answer it. (I can only imagine oenophiles who are booking his cruise already relishing the upcoming chance to stump him!)

I also think having Cameron Douglas onboard a gastronomic-themed cruise is wise. He is New Zealand's first and only master sommelier. Again, a master sommelier is a world authority, in a class that most wine experts can only dream of belonging.

Cameron clearly knows New Zealand's wine region, no doubt better than any other authority. Many travelers are only familiar with a few New Zealand labels and grapes; what an opportunity to explore some of the delicious, lesser-known Kiwi wines under superior guidance. I don't want to give short shrift to any of the other experts in this Crystal Wine & Food program. I'm just running out of room! But I've got to mention Simon Johnson, Australia's top purveyor of gourmet foods.

Australia has such an interesting culinary story. I've tasted many dishes made with Australian ingredients (particularly from the bush and also, seafood) and enjoyed them immensely. Simon's knowledge of regional foods (and overall foodie knowledge) should greatly enhance the culinary experiences of Crystal passengers, both onboard and onshore.

Besides the designated Wine & Food themed cruises, Crystal is featuring former White House chef John Hanny on the May 3rd, 2010 annual President's Cruise from Piraeus to Dubai. Now that sounds really interesting. After all, almost no one (at least, no one I know) gets to dine in the White House.

Chef Hanny is going to present several presidential-themed dinners and White House favorites from different administrations. No word yet if he's favoring Republican administrations or Democratic. (Only kidding.)

See the original Crystal Cruises press release on this culinary cruise below:


LOS ANGELES, October 19, 2009 - Michelin Star-awarded chefs Michael Mina and Heinz Beck, Master sommelier Robert Bath, and mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim are part of the distinguished roster of food, wine and spirit experts aboard Crystal Cruises' 14th annual Wine & Food Experiences of Discovery cruises in 2010. Aboard seven Wine & Food itineraries, the special guests will draw inspiration from the destinations visited, as well as their own expertise in worldwide specialties to lead demos and lectures, tastings and pairings, and cocktail and pastry making classes.

"Crystal's culinary options have long been a cornerstone of guests' luxurious vacation experience," says Toni Neumeister, vice president, food & beverage operations. "The breadth and caliber of talent on the Wine & Food itineraries is extraordinary, and further exemplifies our practice of delivering excellence."

In addition to the designated Wine & Food themed cruises, the ultra-luxury line's annual President's Cruise will befittingly feature former White House Chef John Hanny. Aboard the May 3rd voyage from Piraeus to Dubai, hosted by Crystal President Gregg Michel, Hanny will present several presidential-themed dinners and White House favorites from several administrations.

Culinary experts for 2010 include:

Chefs and Foodies

  • Michael Mina - Creator of restaurant group including one Michelin-starred restaurants;
  • Heinz Beck - Executive chef of three Michelin-starred La Pergola, Rome;
  • Tom Aikens - Michelin-starred chef and owner of London's Tom Aikens Restaurant;
  • Andr� Soltner - Former executive chef/owner of New York's legendary Lut�ce;
  • Serge Dansereau - Owner of Sydney, Australia's The Bathers' Pavilion;
  • Aglaia Kremezi - Greek cuisine expert and acclaimed cookbook author;
  • Paula Wolfert - James Beard Award winning Mediterranean cookbook author;
  • Simon Johnson - Australia's leading purveyor of quality foods, and
  • Jon Ashton - Food correspondent for The Daily Buzz and Relish Magazine chef.

Sommeliers and Wine Experts

  • Doug Frost - One of only three worldwide to achieve both Master Sommelier and Master of Wine;
  • Robert Bath - One of only 79 Master Sommeliers in the U.S.;
  • Gerhard Retter - Wine and cheese sommelier at Michelin-awarded restaurants throughout Europe;
  • Mel Master - Leading Rhone Valley and Languedoc wine exporter and famed restaurateur;
  • Victoria Ordonez - Member of Spain's largest wine exporting family;
  • Cameron Douglas - New Zealand's first and only Master Sommelier, and
  • Filippo DiBelardino - Italian wine expert and vice president of Banfi Vintners-Fine Wines.

Cocktail Concoctors

  • Tony Abou-Ganim -National Ambassador of the U.S. Bartenders' Guild and creator of Crystal's exclusive cocktail program;
  • Julio Bermejo - considered the "U.S. Ambassador of Tequila;"
  • Livio Lauro - National president of the United States Bartenders' Guild;
  • Francesco Lafranconi - Cofounder of the U.S. Bartenders' Guild Nevada chapter, and
  • Audrey Saunders - Celebrated bartender of the Carlyle Hotel's legendary Bemelmans Bar, owner of New York's Pegu Club.

Crystal Wine & Food itineraries are scheduled for March 30, Auckland to Sydney; April 29, London to Rome; May 25, Venice to Barcelona; September 5, Istanbul to Barcelona; September 17, Barcelona to Venice; November 22, roundtrip Lisbon; and December 12, roundtrip Los Angeles, Mexican Rivera.

On every itinerary, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity boast numerous dining options, including specialty dining from Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Piero Selvaggio and Vintage Room experiences showcasing celebrated wines.

Always an incredible value, 2010 Crystal Cruises offer two-for-one cruise fares, free airfare, shipboard spending credits and a price guarantee. For more information and Crystal reservations, contact a travel agent, call 888-799-4625, or visit

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