Hands-on Haute Cuisine from Regent

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013

Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Le Cordon Bleu workshops reveal the secrets of world-renowned chefs.

The most memorable moments of a cruise may occur during a unique shore excursion, at an en-suite cocktail party with newfound friends, or through an onboard enrichment lecture hosted by a charismatic author or historian. Regent Seven Seas Cruises (formerly Radisson Seven Seas) develops itineraries and activities that engage passengers' curiosity and imagination -- and for amateur chefs and food lovers, the line's Le Cordon Bleu cooking workshop, or Classe Culinaire des Croisieres, is a fabulous multi-day interactive program that will call on all of your senses as you learn secrets from world-renown chefs and practice them yourself.

Regent teamed with famed Parisian cooking school Le Cordon Bleu to provide passengers with intimate cooking classes taught by internationally known chefs. This isn't Regent's first partnership with Le Cordon Bleu. When Regent wanted to offer guests an exclusive French-inspired dining experience, they asked Le Cordon Bleu to design the menus for their specialty dining room Signatures. This traditional French restaurant - one of two reservation-only dining rooms aboard Mariner and Voyager - is the only establishment at sea operated by Le Cordon Bleu chefs. The introduction of cooking classes was a natural progression.

Regent places strong emphasis on its passenger enrichment offerings, called Circle of Interest programs.. These activities typically combine onboard sessions and on-shore excursions. Other Circle of Interest "Spotlight" programs focus on photography, the performing arts; art, design and cultures; antiques, jewelry and shopping; and environmental and marine studies. For more information about Regent's enrichment programs, visit the line's web site at www.rssc.com.

What's It All About? The Classe Culinaire des Croisieres begins with a private cocktail party for participants and their spouses or traveling partners. Some of Regent's team - often including the ship's cruise consultant, executive chef, and cruise director - are on hand to mix and mingle and introduce the guest chef from Le Cordon Bleu. Throughout your voyage, three intensive two-hour cooking workshops will be scheduled. A specially trained chef from Le Cordon Bleu will demonstrate how to cook various dishes, and then you'll have a chance to man the skillet and prepare the dish yourself.

You and your traveling partner will be invited to a special group dinner at Signatures, and to a second dinner/graduation ceremony to commemorate your achievement. You'll also take home a Le Cordon Bleu cookbook (it's big and heavy, so leave room in your suitcase); a graduation certificate and class photo; and a chef's apron, hat, and tea towel - all emblazoned with the Le Cordon Bleu logo.

Regent Dining Options Redux Guests and the travel industry alike have long lauded Regent's fine dining options. In 2006, the Voyager was awarded "Best Overall Dining Experience" by Travel Age West, a magazine for travel agents.

Both the Mariner and Voyager offer four open-seating dining venues, along with the Pool Grill: *Compass Rose: The main restaurant on all Regent ships, Compass Rose offers a Continental menu spiced up with regional specialties.

  • Signatures: This reservations-only dining room is operated by Le Cordon Bleu and offers an intimate setting in which to enjoy traditional French food. (Think poached lobster salad with a bouquet of greens and salmon roulade or roast duck breast with a bittersweet orange reduction.)
  • Latitudes: Another reservations-only dinner option, Latitudes servers Asian-inspired meals family-style.
  • La Veranda: This is a more casual dining spot with a buffet breakfast and lunch and an Italian trattoria at dinnertime. (Regent's Navigator is outfitted with two restaurants - Compass Rose and Portofino Il Ristorante - as well as the Pool Grill. The Paul Gauguin - sailing exclusively in the South Pacific - features L'Etoile for French-Polynesian cuisine, La Veranda, and Le Grill.)

When and Where Is the Class Available? This unique hands-on cooking experience from Le Cordon Bleu is only available aboard the Mariner and Voyager. Regent also offers a different program called Spotlight on Food and Wine, also just on these two vessels. (The Spotlight may include demonstrations by a chef, but there is no hands-on cooking component for participants and it is not run in conjunction with Le Cordon Bleu.)

Le Cordon Bleu workshops will be offered on these seven cruises in 2007:

    Aboard the Mariner:
  • September 12, from Seward, Alaska to Osaka, Japan
  • November 4, from Singapore to Sydney, Australia
  • December 3, from Auckland, New Zealand to Los Angeles
    Aboard the Voyager
  • April 30, from Ft. Lauderdale to Funchal, Madeira
  • June 2, from Nice, France to Dover, England
  • September 12, from Dover, England to Monte Carlo, Monaco
  • November 11, from Funchal, Madeira to Ft. Lauderdale

Hands-On Cooking Experience Instead of cooking in the galley - and disrupting the hard work of the crew - Le Cordon Bleu classes meet in Latitudes, the Indochine-inspired dining room. Since Latitudes is only open for dinner, it's the perfect place to meet for daytime cook-offs. It's also a much brighter environment, due to the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows, than the dark, rich tones of Signatures. Latitudes is also a bit larger, allowing for more elbow room as students roll up their sleeves and cook with the help of two portable stovetops.

The recipes presented at each workshop will vary, but will generally include appetizers, an entrée and dessert. Recent workshop dishes included:

  • Quatrologie of Salmon
  • Smoked and Fresh Salmon Rillettes with Tomato Crostini
  • Medallion of Roasted Lamb with Provencal Spinach Tian
  • Chocolate Soufflé with Pistachio Sauce

What can you expect on the day of a cooking demonstration? It's a bit like being on the set of Food TV's Emeril Live! The chef will explain how to prepare the dish and show the class his own step-by-step method. Then, students will pair off and head for cooking tables set up throughout the room. You'll don aprons and toques, and begin cooking your own rendition of the recipe. Each cooking station is prepped by Regent's galley crew and includes everything need to prepare the recipe flawlessly (whether you can actually pull it off is another matter).

Much laughter and banter is shared during each two-hour class, which always ends with participants sitting together sipping wine, sampling their own handiwork, and enjoying each other's company.

Workshop Extras One workshop bonus is a private tour of the ship's galley and provisions area. If you've never gone behind-the-scenes on a cruise ship, you'll be stunned at the military precision of the operation! The ship's executive chef will lead your group through food preparation areas, the bakery, room service dispatch, and the provisions area, which stores everything from flour and sugar to oranges and apples. Another high point of the program is the opportunity to visit a local market at one of your ports with your Le Cordon Bleu chef and a few Regent crew members. Your traveling partner is welcome to attend both these events with you, even if he or she is not enrolled in the class.

Dining with Friends and Chefs at Signatures Not limited to daytime fun, this cooking workshop also includes two evening meals at Le Cordon Bleu's own restaurant, Signatures. You'll dine with classmates, participating chefs, and even a few ship's officers. If you prefer the menu at Signatures to those of Compass Rose, Latitudes, or La Veranda, it may make sense to book this class just to insure two additional reservations at this outstanding dining spot.

At the last group dinner, a "graduation" ceremony is held, where you'll be presented with a gorgeous personalized diploma suitable for framing, along with other mementos. While those physical treasurers are nice keepsakes, it's the memories of new friends and great food that will have you signing up for this cooking workshop every time you cruise with Regent. Regent's Le Cordon Bleu Circle of Interest is sure to be enjoyed by anyone who loves to cook, as well as those who simply enjoy sharing a good meal with friends. If the program is offered on your next voyage, don't miss it!

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