Silversea's special wine and culinary cruises offer world-class instruction For years, famous chefs eschewed cruising the way the rest of us avoid colds. But today, they're jumping at the chance to teach classes and cook onboard. One reason they're now so eager is that shipboard cuisine has vastly improved. Top cruise chefs are more sophisticated, often coming from noted restaurants onshore. And it's easier for visiting chefs to work with them. Trust me, if Silversea Cruises' cuisine was awful, the Michelin-star award-winners just announced for upcoming sails would not be doing a stint on the ships - even for a fancy vacation.
The names instantly grabbed my attention. They're not the usual in-your-face American television stars, selling pots and pans, opening dozens of restaurants and yes, occasionally cooking. Silversea's new list features chefs not well known on American shores but who have serious cooking cred on an international scope. And that makes sense for Silversea. This luxury line appeals to a global crowd.
The first guest chef that caught my eye is Eyvind Hellstrom. This Norwegian chef earned two Michelin stars (a rare accomplishment) in Oslo for his cuisine at Bagatelle restaurant. Hellstrom is often credited as the chef who put Norway on the culinary map. Hellstrom introduced Norwegians to French cooking and also to Norway's native salmon, halibut, cod and other superb seafood. At Bagatelle, he created a gastronomic destination celebrated throughout foodie circles all over Europe, not just in Norway.
Sometimes described as a cross between Britain's cheeky Gordon Ramsey and France's living legend Paul Bocuse, Hellstrom is all about ingredients, showcasing the best and accenting their attributes in subtle simple ways. This master chef is a television star in Norway, so he not only cooks, he can entertain. Hellstrom will sail on the Silver Wind's Arabia and Indian Ocean Voyage 2237, December 5-22, 2012, Dubai to Mauritius.
Count on Dale Gartland to bring further enliven a Silversea sailing. A native of Shropshire, England, Gartland is group executive chef for Relais & Chateaux's three most enticing getaways in New Zealand; The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers and Matakauri Lodge.
Relais & Chateaux is a collection of restaurants, hotels and resorts that possess individualistic charm and fabulous cuisine. I can't think of one Relais & Chateaux I've had the good fortune to dine or stay at that didn't wow me at the dinner table. (Or everywhere else, for that matter.) Silversea Cruises has an exclusive parternship with Relais & Chateaux.
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The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs is one of New Zealand's most renowned resorts. So is its sister hotel, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers. They both regularly top lists of the world's best resorts.
Both hotels are known for serving food made from scratch (even jams and ice cream) and locally sourced. At The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, for instance, some 37 types of tomatoes are grown among many vegetables in the resort garden. Hotel hens provide fresh eggs daily. Menus change daily, depending upon what is fresh and available.
Dale Gartland worked at country house hotels in the United Kingdom before he scored his dream job cooking at a Relais & Chateaux's Gidleigh Park in Devon, England. He spent four years there before heading to Kauri Cliffs in 2003 and rising up the ranks.
UK's Conde Nast Traveler named The Farm at Cape Kidnappers as "Best for Food" in its 2009 Gold List and in 2010, Kauri Cliffs won the same award. Gartland's new menus at Matakauri Lodge retain the same focus; sourcing the best local ingredients and reflecting the rustic character of the region.
His modern approach to New Zealand/European cuisine includes dishes like thyme and honey-glazed duck breast with celeriac puree and five-spice sauce, and local salmon with scampi spring roll with crayfish and coriander bisque. Gartland will share his contemporary culinary vision with Silversea guests onboard Silver Shadow's Voyage 3302, January 18-February 1, 2013, Auckland to Sydney.
Aaron Patterson won his first Michelin star at the young age of 23 and is head chef at Hambleton Hall, a Relais & Chateaux hotel in Rutland, England. Hambleton Hall, built in 1881, is about two-and-one-half hours north of London and ranked one of Britain's finest country house hotels.
Patterson achieved renown for modern British cooking prepared with the best seasonal ingredients. His menus include dishes like wild mushroom consommé with parsley root puree, sautéed langoustine with pork belly, and loin of venison with caramelized endive and cocoa-flavored sauce. Sometimes he riffs on tradition, presenting dishes like riceless risotto of squid with chorizo, or salad of Cornish crab with brown meat ice cream.
The latter two may sound strange, but I'm sure they're delicious. The ice cream would be savory, not sweet, and perhaps be somewhat like a chilled cream flavored with veal or rich seafood stock. Risotto is, of course, an Italian rice dish. In this case, Patterson is using something other than rice to create a risotto-like effect. This British chef does appear on some UK television, so he, too, will probably enchant an audience. You'll find him onboard Silver Shadow's Singapore-to-Hong Kong Voyage 3305, February 25-March 6, 2013.
Other chefs in the Silversea Cruises' line-up include Ying Compestine and Shane Delia. Compestine was born in China and is an authority on Asian culture and cuisine. She is the former food editor for Martha Stewart's Whole Living magazine and the author of four cookbooks. She's hosting a culinary presentation on Silver Shadow's transpacific Voyage 3227, September 6-13, 2012, Vancouver to Tokyo.
Delia is a hot chef in a hot foodie city - Melbourne, Australia. He's a cookbook author and a television show regular Down Under. But most importantly, he's known for his cooking at Maha Bar & Grill in Melbourne. (Recently, he launched St. Katherine's, serving food melded with modern Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern flavors.) Of Maltese heritage, Delia blends the foods of his culinary background with Middle Eastern.
Delia is only in his 30s and already worked as executive chef at Eleanore's Restaurant, a top restaurant at the five-star Relais & Chateau historic hotel Chateau Yering in the Yarra Valley. Recipes like pulled pork taco with peanut mayo; chicken shank, eggplant and fig tagine; and 12-hour roast lamb currently on his web site look amazing. He'll share his eclectic talents on Silver Shadow's Voyage 3311, April 22-May 6, 2013, Hong Kong to Tokyo.
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