By Paul Motter
Holland America is famous for relatively small but uncrowded ships; well appointed with lavish art, extensive libraries and extra-cushy staterooms. The longer and more exotic itineraries offer slower-paced cruises perfect for reading or catching up on movies. The crew is outstandingly accommodating, mostly Indonesian and Filipino staff-members who have made careers out of serving at sea.
But if there is one area where we have heard whispers of Holland America slipping it is in the culinary offerings. Holland America was the only major cruise line not to consult with an outside chef to create menus; such as Charlie Palmer for Seabourn, Jacques Van Staden for Celebrity or Jacques Pepin for Oceania. Holland America chose to promote a chef from within the cruise industry, Chef Rudi Sodamin, because of his experience on almost every major cruise line in the world.
Now Rudi is an excellent chef, but now Holland America is taking new steps to renew its culinary reputation by announcing its new "Culinary Council," of affiliations with several famous chefs and restaurants from around the world - including the world famous "Le Cirque" of New York City.
The idea is to create a special "An Evening at Le Cirque" special night in the exclusive specialty restaurant onboard most Holland America ships, Pinnacle Grill.
On at least one night on virtually every voyage, the Pinnacle Grill will be transformed for into a Le Cirque-like atmosphere. On those special evenings, menu offerings, wine selections, table decorations and the restaurant setting will be tailored to create an authentic Le Cirque dining experience.
Not only will guests have the opportunity to dine on unique Le Cirque dishes including Lobster Salad "Le Cirque," Sweet Corn Soup and Côte de Boeuf, they also will be able to learn how to cook a dish or two during special Le Cirque demonstrations in the on-board Culinary Arts Center.
"My family and I are excited to enter into a partnership with a cruise line that has such a celebrated and highly regarded reputation," said Sirio Maccioni, founder of Le Cirque. "I recently sailed with Holland America Line and was very impressed with their cuisine, impeccable service and high level of hospitality. I look forward to putting my own culinary touch on the dining experience and sharing Le Cirque with Holland America Line guests."
Additional enhancements to the program include screenings of the HBO documentary "Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven" on in-stateroom television, as well as the opportunity to purchase a Le Cirque crème brûlée dish and Le Cirque founder Sirio Maccioni's book, "Sirio: The Story of My Life and Le Cirque."
Le Cirque is a recipient of the coveted James Beard Award for restaurant of the year and has been ranked among the best in the world for decades by food experts. Le Cirque founder, Sirio Maccioni, is a legend and one of the industry's most-respected restaurateurs. Le Cirque restaurants are located in New York, Las Vegas and the Dominican Republic.
Le Cirque and Maccioni has helped to launch the careers of many illustrious chefs, including Daniel Boulud, Christophe Bellanca, Alain Sailhac, Rick Moonen and Holland America Line Culinary Council Member Jacques Torres.
Discuss the New Holland America Food Policy here: Holland America Forum