One of the essential ingredients of our recipe for The Finest Cuisine at Sea™ is our talented and innovative culinary team. Our distinguished chefs are selected from the world’s best restaurants, and are the masters behind the magic of Oceania Cruises’ renowned cuisine. In recognition of the role of our culinary staff, we’ll be periodically spotlighting our Executive Chefs and other members of our extraordinary culinary staff. As a part of this series, we recently caught up with Senior Executive Chef Alban Gjoka for behind-the-scenes insight on some of the most prized ingredients on board, what he loves about Oceania Cruises and more.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
I have had the pleasure of working with many inspirational people throughout my career – the French master chefs Eric Barale, Franck Garanger, and of course, Jacques Pépin all come to mind, but I always think of my grandmother no matter what I am cooking. She was my first teacher. I have had the privilege to work with some of the most talented chefs in the world and have learned not to simply “cook” a recipe, but to build a dish based on the individual flavors of each ingredient and to trust my palate. For this, I am eternally grateful.
What are some of the most prized ingredients on board our ships?
The lobsters from Maine and Brittany have a huge impact on our menus and with good reason, due to their excellent quality and flavor. The dry-aged certified Black Angus USDA Prime beef is another, and that’s not even mentioning the vast selection of top spices from around the world.
What is your favorite dish on board?
A parent can’t choose their favorite child – but yes, I have so many favorites! Culatello Gran Riserva & Smoked Ricotta in Tricorne Ravioli with Pumpkin Velouté and the Butter Poached Brittany Blue Lobster with Vegetable Nage and Beetroot Cress, both featured on The Connoisseur Menu in La Reserve by Wine Spectator, are two of my top choices.
What do you love about your work aboard Oceania Cruises?
I love that I’m able to combine two of my greatest passions: cooking and traveling. I get to explore the world plate by plate. I also have the opportunity to continually travel, and with our exclusive destinations, it makes my role a dream.
About Senior Executive Chef Alban Gjoka
Chef Alban is from Ebrusco of Franciacorta, a famous area near Lake Iseo renowned for its
wine, olive oil and the most sumptuous, traditional food in all of Lombardy, Italy. He spent the first years of his life at his grandmother’s house where he discovered a passion for cooking as he helped her prepare Sunday dinners for the family. After completing his culinary studies at the Accademia ltaliana della Cucina in Milan, Chef Alban worked with some of the most talented chefs, including Ferran Adrià and Joël Robuchon. He eventually worked at acclaimed restaurants all over the world including L’Albereta Relais &Châteaux in Brescia, Bulgari Hotels & Resorts in Bali, the Bulgari restaurant in Tokyo and the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan. Chef Alban began his life at sea with Oceania Cruises in 2007 and since then has been happily fulfilling both his culinary and travel passions as he brings you The Finest Cuisine at Sea™.