With the launch of one of the first hands-on culinary centers at sea, Oceania’s newest ship, the 1,250-passenger Marina, is a floating oasis for foodies. After all, good food — whether on ship or on shore — is an integral part of any cruise experience. So it’s not surprising that lines are going overboard to seduce epicureans.
Marina passengers can enroll in a variety of interactive classes held at the beautifully appointed Bon Appetit Culinary Center on Deck 12. Instructors or guest chefs show how to prepare relatively simple dishes and meals using local ingredients reflecting the culture and cuisine of nearby ports. After sampling what they’ve cooked, budding sous-chefs can simply wash their hands as crew come in for the antiseptic cleanup, readying the classroom for the next group.
The center has nine sparkling granite workstations, each with a conduction cooktop and stainless food sink, where students work in pairs. The curriculum and evolving menu have been designed in collaboration with Bon Appetit under the supervision of Kathryn Kelly, executive chef of the center, and offers instruction for beginners to master chefs.
A similar center is planned for Oceania’s sister ship, Riviera, which will debut this spring, and culinary enrichment programs have been expanded to the entire fleet (oceaniacruises.com).
Marina also offers on-board cooking demonstrations and market trips at ports. In the dining rooms, all meals are prepared to order either in the Grand Dining Room or one of five specialty restaurants: Italian- themed Toscana, the clubby steakhouse Polo Grill, the Asian fusion Red Ginger, the less formal Terrace Cafe (which offers al fresco dining), and the signature brasserie Jacques, named for Jacques Pepin, the ship’s executive culinary director.
[Previously in the Chicago Tribune – July 14, 2011]