Elite quintet of chefs elevate cruise line cuisine

Recently I had the honor of attending an elegant luncheon on Holland America Line’s ms Noordam to introduce five nationally and world-renowned chefs who were hand-picked to implement the cruise line’s newly unveiled Culinary Council, spearheaded by Noordam’s Master Chef and Culinary Council Chairman Rudi Sodamin.

Chef Jonnie BoerFollowing an extensive ship tour and champagne reception we were escorted to the intimate dining room where each chef hosted a specific table. I was seated with Chef Jonnie Boer who owns the five-star De Librije restaurant located inside the boutique Librije Hotel in Denmark. He and his wife are charming, approachable and incredibly passionate about their craft. I asked Johan Groothuizen, vice president of marine hotel operations for Holland America Line how Chef Boer came on board (no pun intended) for the project.

“We are getting more and more Dutch and European passengers and when a friend highly recommended Jonnie and we started to talk it was just the perfect match,” Groothuizen said. “The concept of the Culinary Council came when a group of us agreed it would be great to take it to the next level. It’s always good to develop our already great cuisine.”

The meal began with the freshest marinated tuna with avocado tapenade with grapefruit and sesame tuille, the perfect light way to start things off. That was followed by a rich, creamy, petite cup of porcini mushroom soup, a frothy concoction topped with chives. Decadent and heavenly in the right portion. Next we all had a choice between seared duck breast with clementines accompanied by duck confit and peppercorn-chocolate dressing or roasted sea bas with espelette pepper and pea puree. I chose the latter and was incredibly content with my selection.

The presentation on all dishes was nothing short of perfection as you can see by the photos here. Dessert began with rich, creamy pinnacle cheesecake with fresh raspberries and followed by thick hot chocolate prepared by none other than chocolate expert chef Jacques Torres of Jacques Torres Chocolates in New York.

 

 

Chefs Charlie Trotter of Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and David Burke of Townhouse in New York prepared the other dishes. Unfortunately Marcus Samuelsson of Harlem, New York’s Red Rooster could not attend due to personal matters. I’m a fan of Marcus having watched him on several specials on Food Network and other channels so that made for the afternoon’s only disappointment.

All the chefs involved have a mutual respect for one another which was obvious in their comments about each other and the assurance that there’s no room for egos when their goal is a unified one, to elevate the cuisine to it’s highest level.

Perhaps Stein Kruse, president and CEO of Holland America Line summed it up best saying “five of the truly leading chefs in the world have joined us to try to elevate the dining and culinary pillars in our cruise line. With the Culinary Council we hope to bring this to another level.”

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