With the cruise line industry taking some bad hits lately, becoming late-night TV fodder, and prominently featured in joke line-ups; maybe it’s time to focus on the positive and ask: “ What’s cooking onboard?”
By Michelle M. Winner
Well plenty, at least at Holland America.
Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, Holland America Line’s Culinary Consultant has won many awards including the coveted “ Best Cruise Line Chef” by Porthole Cruise Magazine. Anyone that has enjoyed his Master Chef’s Dinner in the Pinnacle Grill, another Porthole aware-winner as “Best Culinary Secret Afloat,” understands the culinary acumen and attention to detail Chef Sodamin instills in his kitchens and the quality of the wine program aboard.
The Master Chef’s Dinner is held in the ships’ Pinnacle Grill restaurants. They began aboard the ms. Nieuw Amsterdam and this is quite the extravaganza. The seven-course meal for up to 18 guests is an intensely intimate experience in the best possible way. Each course is served by a member of the dining staff functioning as your host. Courses are delectably described and prepared with ingredients flow-in fresh and loaded dockside or are picked or harvested fresh and loaded on in the various ports. The ship’s sommelier has selected the wine pairings and the elegant table is set with Holland America signature Versace china and fresh flowers. It is truly a-not-to-miss experience for one night on board , but you must make reservations well in advance of your sailing. The cost is minimal to the quality, as you have food already included with your cabin fee, but this is well beyond your expectation, so worth the extra.
Chef Sodamin is an internationally recognized food authority and innovator of cruise offerings. Another of his beautiful restaurant concepts is the award-winning Tamarind, an eclectic southeast and pan-Asia restaurant featured on several of the ships. Perfect for a change-up in your dining.
If you are able, sign up for Chef Rudi’s culinary-arts program on board. It might be hosted by the on-board executive chef, or even a noted visiting French Master Chef like Hervé Laurent. No matter who is teaching and demonstrating live, you will leave with a new skill, a recipe in hand and an appreciation for what distinguished chefs do.
Sodamin is the author of numerous internationally published cookbooks, including “Seduction & Spice” (Rizzoli, 2000) and Holland America Line’s “A Taste of Excellence” (Rizzoli, 2007), “A Taste of Elegance” (Rizzoli, 2009) and “A Taste of Celebration” (Rizzoli, 2010). Not surprisingly Chef Rudi Sodamin belongs to the Academy Culinaire de France, Master Chef Society and Club de Chefs des Chefs.
Note: to celebrate Spring Chef Rudi shares his Chilled Pea Soup with Chives in the recipe section here at Honest Cooking.com .