As I look at the happy faces of our students, friends and colleagues who joined us in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center this year, I am filled with joy. When we opened the culinary center onboard Marina earlier this year, we had no precedent to follow — we were the first hands-on cooking school at sea. By the time Marina had completed her maiden voyage, we already knew that we had created something really special. So with this blog post, I send heartfelt thanks to the many people who made this dream a reality.
Oceania Cruises Leaders: Everyone involved is so grateful to Chairman & CEO Frank Del Rio and Vice Chairman Bob Binder for envisioning a cruise ship designed for foodies. The Bon Appétit Culinary Center was Bob’s vision, his passion and his “baby.” He saw what a special place it would be for our guests to enrich themselves, have fun, meet new friends, experiment with local foods and wines, and explore the markets and cuisines of the world.
Oceania Cruises Executive Team: You can only imagine how demanding it is to launch a new ship. Well, imagine what it is like to add to that a prototype culinary center with new equipment, logistics, staff and demands. Every day, and every step of the way, our leaders and executive team were behind us and always cheerfully asking, “What do you need, Chef?” It doesn’t get any better than that!
Officers and Crew of Marina: As a guest on Insignia twice, I had no idea what went on behind the scenes in order to make the sailings such a success. As a new employee of the company, I was amazed (and still am) by the professionalism, collegiality and skill of our officers and crew. Without them, I would not have survived this maiden year. And it is because of them that I truly miss my “ship family” when I am on vacation at home.
Oceania Cruises Culinary Team: From the moment I arrived, the executive chefs (who were very busy opening new restaurants and venues onboard Marina) made me feel welcome. The first few months were challenging, but we never lost our sense of purpose — or our sense of humor. Franck, Wolfgang, Tino, Olivier, Laurent and Eric…you are my heroes! And I would be remiss not to thank Master Chef Jacques Pépin, who is our Executive Culinary Director. His support has been very much appreciated.
Bon Appétit Culinary Center Team: As so many of you who have taken classes know, our staff is prepared, enthusiastic and unflappable. I have worked with so many talented sous chefs — Asif, Maddi, Seyto, Venish, Tyrone, Kripton, Daniel and Alka. I know how much it has meant to them to interact with the guests, which they don’t often get the chance to do in the galley. And to Chef Steven, who navigated the trail, my deepest thanks.
Guest Chefs and Instructors: We have been honored to have two chefs, Chef Eisenhauer and Chef Velie, join us from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), my alma mater. They have helped us with both cuisine and instruction and will continue to remain on our faculty-at-large. Chef Annie Copps, who will also continue with us in 2012, has been a joy and has delighted many of our guests with her sparkling personality and unbridled enthusiasm.
Finally, and most importantly, our guests…
Some of you took classes because you wanted to take a recipe home from Red Ginger, others because you were curious to discover what this cooking school was all about. Some found out that we tasted wine while we cooked — so you were in! And then there were the students who wanted to master the soccarat in paella, the ganache for truffles, the cartouche for shallow-poached shrimp, and the grilled pizza crust for your creations at home. Regardless of the reason, we are glad you came, cooked, tasted, laughed, made new friends, learned new recipes, mastered egg cookery or made your first fresh pasta.
As a final farewell to 2011 and a tribute to all of our guests in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center, I’d like to share some of the treasured memories from our inaugural season. I hope those of you who experienced the culinary center this past year will remember these concepts fondly (and review them at home!).
As the song goes, “these are a few of my favorite things…”
- Boiling, salted water
- Sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami
- Temping chocolate
- Onion and garlic cookery
- Searing hot grilling
- Paella soccarat
- Digital thermometers
We love you all and look forward to seeing you in 2012!
God Bless and Happy New Year!
Bon Appétit Culinary Center