While most cruise lines employ a single corporate
chef that oversees the creation, organization and implementation of menus,
Oceania Cruises has an entire team at the helm of its culinary program. Of
course, renowned master chef Jacques Pépin has been the
inspiration for the program since he became executive culinary director when
the line was founded 10 years ago. But consistently delivering the finest
cuisine at sea requires a large group of dedicated chefs committed to this
“No one person can be in charge of all the food
and beverage for a cruise line and do it well,” says Senior Vice President of
Hotel Operations Franco Semeraro. “It’s creativity, it’s administration,
it’s logistics and human resources; it’s sourcing and tracking and training and
quality control. And then there’s bread and pastry. From a culinary point of
view, that’s like another planet! How could one person do all that?”
As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I’ve
enjoyed the privilege of meeting several members of the culinary team, including
Semeraro, who led the team in one of its most ambitious projects to date: the
launch of entirely new menus for the Grand Dining Room. Semeraro has been a key
player in the creation of Oceania Cruises’ renowned cuisine since the line’s
founding in 2003. In fact, most of the culinary team has been onboard since the
company began with a handful of employees a decade ago, which accounts for the
family atmosphere amongst the entire team and translates to a warm camaraderie amidst
the crew and guests onboard the ships. It truly is a family affair, as several
of the original recipes served in the Italian restaurants have come from Semeraro
and his wife, Packy, and their mothers.
Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger has certainly
found his niche within the team. His sole responsibility is creating innovative
new menus that keep Oceania Cruises at the forefront of culinary excellence.
Meanwhile, Culinary Director Eric Barale handles the logistics of implementing
Garanger’s creations, from purchasing fresh ingredients and acquiring new
equipment to assembling the necessary staff and designing menus. Interestingly,
Barale used to be Garanger’s teacher at culinary school, and when Garanger was
invited to come onboard with Oceania Cruises when the line was founded in 2003,
Barale was the first person he called to join him.
“Eric does all the work I don’t like to do,” Garanger
says, chuckling. “I am the right brain and he is the left, so it makes a great
partnership. When you don’t have to take care of all the logistics and you’re
free to just create the recipes, it’s fantastic. It allows me to keep a clear
head and to simply create. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be enough hours in the
Of course, the right brain and left brain wouldn’t
function without a lot of neurons flashing in synchronicity. Several other team
members help execute this culinary vision, not to mention the hundreds of chefs
and sous chefs working onboard the ships. Assistant Culinary Director Pascal Lesueur
and Senior Executive Chef Alexis Quaretti were both heavily involved in the new menu rollout in the Grand Dining Room.
Senior Executive Chef Christophe Belin oversaw implementation on Riviera,
while Senior Executive Chef Laurent Trias will oversee Marina, and
Executive Chef Renald Macouin will oversee Regatta and Nautica.
If you saw yesterday’s blog, your mouth is
probably still watering over the photos I shared that revealed the fruits of
the team’s labors. There are so many delicious dishes on the new Grand Dining
Room menus that I wanted to share a few more with you today.
In my next blog post, read
my behind-the-scenes interview with Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger and
learn where he gets his inspiration to create the finest cuisine at sea.