In an era where every eatery from the Michelin starred right down to McDonald’s is rebranding itself for the food-obsessive set — Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich, McDonald’s? Really? — it’s no surprise that cruise ships are, um, getting on board. Major cruise lines have launched more-or-less substantial partnerships with celebrity chefs including Jamie Oliver (Royal Caribbean) and Guy Fieri (Carnival)
Of course, most reasonable cruisers know that Oliver and Fieri aren’t actually on-board running the kitchens. That’s where Windstar Cruises differs.
In their James Beard Foundation Culinary Cruise series, the boutique cruise line will actually have James Beard Award-winning chefs on board, paired with equally well-credentialed sommeliers. They’ll lead cooking demos, create special menus, and even lead excursions off the boat. Ever wanted to visit a European farmers’ market with one of the world’s best chefs? Here’s your chance. Windstar becomes a first-class roving restaurant, where chefs pick up Spanish seafood, French cheeses, or Moroccan spices before each meal.
“My restaurants are farm-to-table oriented,” says chef Maria Hines, owner and executive chef of Seattle Tilth, Agrodolce, and the Golden Beetle in Seattle. She’ll lead the June 10th cruise from Dublin to Lisbon — stopping at St.-Malo, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Gijon, El Ferrol, and Porto along the way. “So being able to cook a farm-to-table meal on a cruise ship in different parts of the world is just badass.”
The August 9 trip, with the same destinations in reverse, will be led by Matt and Kate Jennings, chef-owners of Boston’s Townsman, and four-time James Beard Foundation Award nominees.
“Going to local markets to shop is my way of exploring what other countries have to offer,” says Hines. “The terroir, the wines, the cheeses, you can only experience it while you are there.” And we guess it doesn’t hurt to have a world-class chef alongside you.