If you follow Oceania Cruises’ blog, then you know that as Blogger-at-Large, I love travel and I love food. Oceania Cruises has always appreciated that the two go hand in hand, because one of the greatest parts of travel is experiencing the variety of world cuisines. This is one reason that we feature many later evening departures and overnight stays in port, so that guests have plenty of time to sample the local fare and enjoy an authentic meal ashore. At the same time, the onboard cuisine is the finest at sea, and the culinary program is designed to reflect the varied flavors of the international destinations we visit. Our chefs continually strive to enhance this onboard culinary experience, and we are very excited to unveil their latest innovation.

6a0120a92e343a970b019affebdec4970b-250wiAfter many months of research, experimentation and plenty of tastings by both chefs and executives, Oceania
Cruises is pleased to introduce the Taste of the World dishes. Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger and his culinary team thoroughly researched and tested more than 80 recipes to create this new collection that captures the essence of 13 countries with six to seven recipes presented on each plate. These new dishes celebrate the authentic flavors of some of the most intriguing areas to which Oceania Cruises sails.

The new Taste of the World dishes will be featured during lunch in the Grand Dining Room and the Terrace Café on each Oceania Cruises ship beginning in January 2014 as part of an entirely new menu (about which I’ll share further tantalizing details in a future blog!). Guests who have lunch in the Grand Dining Room can order a Taste of the World selection as an entrée or enjoy it as an appetizer, perfectly sized to share with the entire table.

Cuisine onboard Oceania Cruises is noted for its variety, and the Taste of the World dishes are no exception. Here are few of my favorites (and I freely admit that my love for some of these cruising regions has a lot to do with which Taste of the World choices I will enjoy the most).

What is more enticing than golden and emerald buddhas, red-roofed pagodas, terraced rice fields, buried terra cotta warriors or great walls that stretch for thousands of miles? For me, that would be Asian food, and the Taste of the World from Asia showcases some of the best of countries such as Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. Dig into crispy Prawns Tempura, a delectable Thai Beef Salad, creamy Avocado Rolls, tasty Wakame Salad, satisfying Vietnamese Chicken and Shrimp Fried Rolls, and a perfectly cooked Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce.



Few countries tantalize the palate like Italy. Until you travel among the hills of Tuscany, glide across the canals of Venice, walk the cobbled streets of ancient Rome or sip a glass of limoncello among the lemon trees of the Amalfi Coast, you may not realize the incredible breadth and depth of Italian cuisine. Somehow the Taste of the World from Italy embodies all of the nation’s great flavors in just one plate featuring refreshing Melon and Prosciutto, delicious Cipolline in Agrodolce with Goat Cheese, tangy Grilled Marinated Vegetables, decadent Tomato Mozzarella Stracciatella, smooth Ricotta and Spinach Panzerotti, and lovely Fagottini di Bresaola e Ricotta.



England has given us amazing cathedrals, crown jewels, stunning palaces, historic museums and iconic clock towers, but this popular destination’s cuisine is often overlooked. It’s a shame, because the best of English dishes presented on a single plate is a reminder of why this empire once stretched around the world. The Taste of the World from England presents a wonderful Salmon Cake with Tartar Sauce, savory Roast Beef with Coleslaw, fantastic Soft Eggs with Potato Salad, traditional Fish and Chips, surprisingly good Honey and Mustard Pickled Vegetables, classic Yorkshire Pudding and beloved Minced Beef and Onion Pie.



Wander among the lavender fields of Provence, explore the small towns in the countryside, discover the great museums of Marseille and you have only scratched the surface of what this amazing region has to offer. With the Taste of the World from Provence, you will better understand the many cultural and artistic influences that have shaped Provence through the centuries. Sample Salted Cod Aioli, vibrant Artichokes Barigoule, a smooth Chicken Liver Pâté with Aubergine in Vinegar, spicy Nice Black Olive Tapenade, crunchy Fried Barbajuan with Spinach and Ricotta Stuffing, traditional Salad Niçoise with Tuna and a spirited Green Olive Fougasse.



We get so caught up in the swaying palm trees, turquoise waters, white sand beaches and brightly colored undersea worlds of the Caribbean that it’s easy to forget its cuisine is among the most interesting and sought after in the world. With almost every major European power laying claim to an island at one point or another, the dishes served in the Caribbean hark back to an intriguing ancestry. Mix in the native plants and indigenous spices and things really start to get interesting. The Taste of the World from the Caribbean features spicy Jerk Chicken, Dirty Rice, refreshing Avocado and Pineapple Salad with a Passion Fruit Vinaigrette, moist Crab Cake with fiery Poblano Aioli, tart Lemon Marinated Fruit Salad, Dhal Puri Flat Bread and delicate Acras de Morue and Sweet Potatoes.



Many other countries are also delectably profiled in the Taste of the World. Some of my favorites are the positively divine Eggplant Baba Ghanoush that is part of the Taste of the World from Turkey, the Lamb Bourekaki and Spanakopita included in the Taste of the World from Greece and the Beef Kefta with Yogurt Sauce served with the Taste of the World Morocco. I’m a big fan of Indian food, so the Taste of the World from India’s Chicken Tikka Salad, Samosa and Prawns Curry sound delicious. The Philippines are represented by Pork Spring Rolls and a Mango Salad, and Mexico tempts the palate with Fish Ceviche and Empanadas with Salsa Cruda. The rich fishing history of Scandinavian countries is showcased in Gravlax and Marinated Herring with some Swedish Meatballs and Polar Bread to keep things interesting. Last but certainly not least, the Taste of the World from Spain represents the many flavors of the country, ranging from a Valencia Spinach and Orange Salad to Beef Albondigas and Pulpo Alla Gallega.

Taste of the World has been a huge hit with guests who got a sneak peek during the preliminary onboard tastings, and those cruising with us in 2014 can look forward to enjoying this wonderful array of new dishes. The creativity and innovation of our chefs continues to uphold Oceania Cruises’ long-held reputation for serving the finest cuisine at sea.

1 comment on “Oceania Cruises President Kunal Kamlani Launches 10th Anniversary Sailing with Chef Kelly on a Culinary Discovery Tour in Livorno”

Oceania Cruises President Kunal Kamlani Launches 10th Anniversary Sailing with Chef Kelly on a Culinary Discovery Tour in Livorno

6a0120a92e343a970b01910419307d970c-200wiSummer has arrived in Tuscany and so has Oceania Cruises President Kunal Kamlani, who joined me to host a special sailing on Riviera in celebration of Oceania Cruises’ 10th anniversary. What better way to celebrate than with fellow food and wine enthusiasts on a Culinary Discovery Tour in Tuscany!

We started the morning in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center onboard the ship for an orientation to the day’s schedule and then boarded our coach for a short ride to the Mercato Centrale in Livorno.


This market has been a favorite of mine for years because it yields exquisite products, and I also love its atmosphere. Like many public daily markets that we visit, there is a central closed building as well as individual stalls spilling out on all sides from the main market. As July is upon us, there were willowy yellow zucchini blossoms, fresh cherries and fragrant tomatoes. Don’t you just love the smell of a great tomato?


All guests were given a shopping assignment, so they set off to experience the local ambiance of the market. Some stopped for a cappuccino and others headed to our favorite cheese shop. One couple was celebrating their 50-year anniversary with us, and this was the perfect beginning to their cruise and celebration.


6a014e8a072452970d01901e233958970b-200wiWe enjoyed an hour at the market exploring the meat and cheese counters, vegetable stalls and fishmongers. Then our sous chefs, Asif and Raj, gathered up our purchases and returned to the ship to prepare for this afternoon’s cooking class in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center. The rest of us returned to the coach for a miniature picnic of Parma ham, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, focaccia, cherries and fresh mozzarella to fortify us for the day’s adventure in Tuscany.

I have led this Culinary Discovery Tour several times now, and every time we drive up the long cypress-lined driveway of Torre a Cenaia, I feel like I am on a film set for a quintessential Tuscan movie! The family is always so welcoming and happy to see our group from Oceania Cruises.



We began with a visit to the winery and cellars, and on this day they were bottling, which was very exciting. We heard the constant clinking of the bottles as they left the warehouse to be taken into the cellar for storage. Outside of the winery, our horse-drawn carriage awaited us. The driver told me that the horses were quite frisky this morning because the grass is so lush and green – and they had been eating all night!


Off we went for a tour of the villa. We saw the sangiovese and vermentino vineyards, lovely ponds and local pheasants, and everyone enjoyed taking in the beauty of this authentic Tuscan farm. At the end of the tour, we arrived at the 300-year-old farmhouse that had been converted into a kitchen with a wood-fired oven. Chef David was there to greet us and begin my favorite part of the tour – the cooking!



Pizza dough was the first item on the agenda. While making our dough, we learned that some of our guests were of Italian heritage, so this was like coming home for them and a great way to spend the first day of their cruise with us! While our pizza dough rested, we moved on to focaccia. We shaped the dough into an oval shape, punched it down with our fingers and spread it with olive oil (lots of it!) and sea salt. Into the oven it went, and while it cooked, we began tasting some wines from the Pitti family vineyards. We started with a chardonnay–sauvignon blanc blend and then moved on to two vermentinos, one quite young and the other aged in acacia oak for a bit longer. Both wines were spectacular, and the second was particularly good with the family’s salami, which made the perfect complement to our wine tasting.





Next up was the highlight of our trip – pizza! We took full advantage of the farm’s bounty and made too many pizzas to count – with vegetables, farm sausage, cheese, salami and even just plain tomato sauce. At the market I had purchased some burrata cheese, and we enjoyed it with our pizza, focaccia and, of course, more wine! This time we tasted a delicious sangiovese, a rosé and a sangiovese-cabernet blend.



6a0120a92e343a970b01910419531f970c-200wiAs we sat together family-style around the table, sampling the wines and pizza and focaccia, we all commented on how this was such a wonderful way to travel. To meet and interact with locals, share their home and cooking secrets, and relax over great food and wine – what a blessing!

Our meal would not have been complete without dessert, so for our final recipe we prepared cantucci. This sweet bread is often baked twice to make biscotti, although we would enjoy the original version baked once in the wood-fired oven. We grated fresh lemon to add to the eggs, sugar, butter, flour and anise seeds that made up this yummy “biscuit,” as they call it in Livorno.

While the cantucci was baking, we strolled back to the winery to sample a late-harvest vermentino and take in the fabulous surroundings of olive trees, fresh blooming lavender, sunflowers poking their early green stems from the rich earth and sensuous flowering annuals overflowing their pots. Soon the cantucci was ready, and we enjoyed its buttery deliciousness as the grand finale to our day at this beautiful Tuscan farm. It was then time to say “arrivederci” and return to Riviera.



After a short siesta on the coach ride back to the ship, we met at the Bon Appétit Culinary Center for a class celebrating the foods of Tuscany and the many things we purchased at the market that day. We had found some zucchini blossoms, so we made zucchini fritters with chickpea flour. We also found fabulous cherry tomatoes and made a batch of Chianti-style crostini rossi. The class focused primarily on fresh pasta, and I was so proud of all the great pasta that our students made.



6a0120a92e343a970b01901e235160970b-150wiWe topped off the day with a salted caramel ice cream and a pine nut cake that we had purchased at the market.

What a great way to kick off this 10th anniversary sailing! Kunal had the chance to visit at length with some guests who were on their first voyage with Oceania Cruises as well as some guests who had sailed with us before. I always enjoy having our executives along on Culinary Discovery Tours, not only because they are true lovers of food and wine but also because they are able to interact with the guests and see how much everyone enjoys this unique program and the truly special experience it offers. There are more Culinary Discovery Tours to come on this cruise, and I look forward to sharing them with you soon!



Anyone who has ever sailed with Oceania Cruises knows that cuisine is a very important part of the experience. From its very beginnings 10 years ago with the appointment of Master Chef Jacques Pépin as Executive Culinary Director, to the exceptional onboard specialty restaurants at no additional charge, to the Bon Appétit Culinary Center offering hands-on cooking classes, Oceania Cruises is unrivaled in its dedication to the culinary arts.

Of course, considering the fascinating worldwide destinations that Oceania Cruises visits, the opportunities for culinary enrichment are as abundant ashore as they are onboard. Numerous shore excursions are available that allow foodies to learn about diverse world cuisines. These excursions were especially appealing to guest lecturer Don Campbell, who recently shared his expertise with guests onboard Nautica.

After a 24-year career with the US Coast Guard, Don traveled the world as a program manager in the aerospace and defense industries. His extensive travels fueled a lifelong passion for discovering world cultures, and he especially enjoys interacting with local people and learning about their art and cuisine. During his voyage onboard Nautica, Don had the chance to not only share his valuable insights with guests but also extend his own knowledge even further on the Thai Cooking Class shore excursion offered in Ko Samui. Don took some great photos during the class and was kind enough to share them with us.


For Thai food lovers, this excursion was an excellent opportunity to learn some of the secrets to preparing this delicious cuisine. The day began with a trip to a Thai market to pick out the fresh ingredients that would be used in the class. Walking through the lively market, guests got a feel for life on the island of Ko Samui as the locals shopped for their own daily staples.


Having purchased the ingredients for the class, the group drove to the Nora Beach Resort & Spa, where the cooking class was taught. After being welcomed with a traditional Thai beverage, guests rolled up their sleeves and got to it. Guests had individual cooking stations and, using the ingredients purchased at the market, prepared a delicious Thai meal.


After a satisfying Thai feast, guests enjoyed some time to relax and explore the lovely resort.


If your mouth is watering after all this discussion of Thai food, you’ll be happy to know that Nautica will be back in Ko Samui on the Pagodas & Palaces sailing on February 6, 2014. You, too, could learn to prepare authentic Thai cuisine on a wonderful voyage with Oceania Cruises!



For the past eight months, Fleet
Corporate Chef Franck Garanger and the rest of the Oceania Cruises culinary
team have been designing and testing new menus for the fleet’s flagship
restaurant, the Grand Dining Room. The menus in the Grand Dining Room change
daily, and in total, Garanger has created 85 new recipes for 14 different


One of Garanger’s latest creations: Zucchini-Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp with Parmesan Cheese and Angel Hair Pasta al Limone

“If you just copied other recipes or
used a cookbook, you could do this rollout in two months,” Garanger says. “But
we try to be unique in every single recipe we create, and that is a lengthy
process requiring the dedicated efforts of the entire team.”

6a0120a92e343a970b017d40c9e939970c-200wiSo what is Garanger’s creative process
for conceiving all of these unique recipes? “I start to think about the recipe
and then I start to make notes. Then I prepare it once. If I’m lucky, I only
have to prepare the dish three or four times before it’s finalized. But often I
have to try it eight or ten times before it’s perfect. And sometimes I give
up!” Garanger chuckles. “Sometimes I say, okay, this one is never going to work
– and then maybe it works a few years later. It happens sometimes.”

Garanger’s conception of the recipes is
only the first step in a launch of this scale. Once the recipes are designed, a
great deal of product research must be done to secure all of the new
ingredients. This is one of the challenges facing restaurants operating onboard
a ship versus restaurants ashore.

“Fresh products are purchased in every
port, and the availability changes depending on whether you’re in South America
or Europe or Asia, so the executive chefs have to plan ahead and make
adjustments,” Garanger explains. “Meanwhile, dry goods and frozen items are
delivered via shipping containers, which can take a long time to reach the
ship. If a container is traveling from Miami to Europe, it may take three
weeks. To ensure we have all the necessary ingredients for these new recipes,
we had to begin scheduling these shipments months in advance.”

Onboard restaurants are open seven days
a week, 365 days a year, another aspect of shipboard operations requiring
ingenuity in management. Galleys operate around the clock, and shifts must be
staffed accordingly. Training and oversight must be constant and diligent.


As an example of the team’s commitment
to the ingredients, design and process of recipes from start to finish,
consider the dinner baguette in the Grand Dining Room. Only the finest (and most
expensive) French flour is used – Viron flour harvested in the Beauce region –
because it has a lower gluten content and thus more flavor. The flour is
shipped direct from France, and each batch of dough goes through a two-stage
proofing process to release the full aromas of the flour. The dough is
refrigerated to proof overnight and then worked, formed into baguettes and
proofed again before baking. And this is just to create the dinner baguette,
one of thousands of items prepared onboard each day.

Here Garanger and Senior Executive
Chef Alexis Quaretti discuss the finer points of the baguette wafer that will
accompany the new Grand Dining Room dish: Cauliflower Panna Cotta with
Artichoke Salpicon, Tomato Coulis and Poblano Chili Aioli


Considering the complex methods required
to make an exceptional baguette, you can imagine how involved the process is
when launching entirely new menus for the Grand Dining Room. The rollout will
take nearly four months to complete across the entire fleet, with each ship
requiring a full cruise for initial implementation and another full cruise for
follow-up training.


The new dishes are a feast for the
senses. The flavor profiles are rich and diverse, and the presentation is


Beef Carpaccio with Fried Shallots, Parmesan and Lemon Vinaigrette



Baby Shrimp and Avocado Cocktail with Marie-Louise Sauce


Warm Duck Pâté in Puff Pastry with Port Wine Sauce


The new
menus also include an assortment of Canyon Ranch® Healthy Living
Choices that meet the Canyon Ranch standards for balanced nutrition from a wide
variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains and lean
proteins. The calories, fat grams and fiber grams for each Canyon Ranch
selection are included on the menu. If healthy living means eating dishes like
this, then I’m becoming a health nut!


Canyon Ranch Vegetable Caponata on Roasted Red Pepper Dressing with Crispy Sardinian Bread


Canyon Ranch Wild Salmon Tartare with Sushi Rice and Avocado


Having created so many exquisite dishes,
does Garanger have a personal favorite?

“My signature dish is my mashed
potatoes,” Garanger says. With the new rollout, Franck’s Mashed Potatoes will
always be available as a side in the Grand Dining Room, and you really must try
them. Absolute heaven!

“The pâté en croute on the new menu is
also very close to my heart,” Garanger continues. “This is a recipe from my
childhood for the classic dish that the French enjoy around the family table.” Here Franck prepares his Childhood Paté en Croute: French Family-Style Encrusted Paté with Smoked Ham
and Pheasant


you’ve visited the Grand Dining Room, you can only imagine the amazing
selection of delectable new dishes to be tasted. And the Grand Dining Room is
only one of four gourmet restaurants on Regatta
and Nautica and six restaurants on Marina and Riviera! When you reserve your next voyage with Oceania Cruises, I
suggest you make it a lengthy one, so you have plenty of time to sample all of
the spectacular cuisine!



6a0120a92e343a970b017ee83922f1970d-300wiAny fan of Oceania Cruises knows that
esteemed master chef Jacques Pépin is our executive culinary director and the
inspiration behind our extraordinary cuisine. But even Chef Pépin knows that it
takes more than one person to create a culinary program for a cruise line that
can successfully rival the cuisine of even the best restaurants ashore. As
Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I recently had the privilege of interviewing
one of the other culinary team members responsible for creating the finest
cuisine at sea

Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger
might modestly resist the label of “creative genius.” But after tasting the
exquisite dishes he has conceived for Oceania Cruises’ ships, I can’t think of
a more appropriate moniker.

While many cruise lines employ a single
corporate chef, Oceania Cruises has an entire team of culinary directors and
executive chefs committed to realizing its culinary vision. Thus Garanger is
free to focus his creative genius – there, I said it – on designing recipes
that uphold Oceania Cruises’ reputation for the finest cuisine at sea.


An example of the finest cuisine at sea: Tamarind-Braised Black Cod with Sweet Ginger Sauce and Vegetable Ragout

While Garanger was born in the Normandy
region of France, his family moved to Angers in the Loire Valley when he was
two years old. His father owned a bakery, and after being exposed to the
culinary world at a very young age, Garanger began working with his father and
learning the pastry trade at age 16. One year later he began studies in
hospitality and hotel management. French universities are very specialized, and
the training involved one week of classes alternating with two weeks of
hands-on restaurant experience, at which time Garanger worked with a French
master chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Angers.


Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger

After passing his first exams, Garanger
worked at one of the world’s most famous hotels, the Hotel de Paris in Monaco,
followed by the equally renowned Hotel de Cap Eden Roc, a palace on the French
Riviera in Antibes. He then returned to school for two years to complete his
degrees and after exams, at the age of 24, began officially working as a chef.

His first position on a cruise ship was
with Silversea Cruises in 1995. When he was asked to join Oceania Cruises in
2003, he did not hesitate to accept. “I liked the vision they had for the line,”
Garanger says. “And I really liked the passion of all the people involved. They
were so into food that, in everything we were creating, they were not only
behind me but also tasting the food with me. When you have the CEO and the
president coming onboard just to taste the food to see if we can put it on the
menu, it applies a little pressure, but it is also very rewarding because you
can really see how important the food is to the company.”

Much like the passionate commitment of
the executives, many aspects of Garanger’s tenure with Oceania Cruises have
been both challenging and rewarding. “Regatta
was a challenge because we had to start from scratch, and we were working with
a ship we didn’t build, so we had to make adjustments. We built Marina ourselves, but it was also
challenging because we opened eight different restaurants – each a completely
different concept – and had 160 cooks onboard to manage. In both cases, there were
very high expectations, and we had to deliver in a short period of time. Both
debuts were a huge success, and so of course, we’re very happy.”

So what is the secret to continuing to
deliver the finest cuisine at sea? For one thing, most members of the culinary
team, such as Executive Culinary Director Jacques Pépin, Senior Vice President
of Hotel Operations Franco Semeraro, Culinary Director Eric Barale and
Assistant Culinary Director Pascal Lesueur, have been with Oceania Cruises
since its very beginnings. And the line’s commitment to cuisine has ensured
that the team is provided every tool they need to succeed.

“I’ve always been asked what I needed,
and whatever I asked for, I got,” Garanger says. “Of course, then you have to
make sure you deliver, and so far, I’ve succeeded. That’s why I’m still here!”

Each restaurant onboard provides its own
unique challenges. Jacques is perhaps the most challenging because of the
technical precision required to execute true, authentic French recipes using
traditional, time-honored methods on a daily basis. Toscana is also technically
challenging because of the à la minute preparation of all the fresh pasta and

Red Ginger is one of Garanger’s favorite
concepts because it is truly “his baby.” Garanger traveled in Asia for two
years and then spent time in both London and San Francisco researching ideas
before developing the restaurant concept and recipes.


One of Red Ginger’s signature dishes: Miso-Glazed Sea Bass in Hoba Leaf

While Jacques and Red Ginger are
featured on Oceania Cruises’ newest ships, Marina
and Riviera, guests will be excited
to know that they can soon get a taste of these restaurants onboard Regatta and Nautica as well. These ships will soon feature an entrée from both
Jacques and Red Ginger each night in the Grand Dining Room. The new features
are just one small part of Garanger’s latest large scale project, the rollout
of new menus for the Grand Dining Rooms on the entire fleet.

In my next blog post, I’ll share Garanger’s
insights into the creative process, training and implementation involved in
this extensive menu rollout. Check the blog again soon for more
behind-the-scenes stories.