Dining in The Astoria Dining Room, one of two dining areas on the American Empress

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Fine Dining Aboard the American Empress: An Interview With Executive Chef Paul Wayland-Smith

Chef Paul on creating a menu, catering to dietary restrictions, and the American Empress’ dining concepts

The American Queen Steamboat Company not only boasts award-winning shore excursions and “gracious service and warm hospitality,” but quality culinary offerings which often take advantage of “the region’s diverse bounty of fresh ingredients,” according to the company website.

Steamed cold-water lobster tail with parsley buttered potatoes, garlicky green beans, and warm drawn butter

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On creating menus for each voyage, executive chef Paul Wayland-Smith told The Daily Meal, “Many things [go] into consideration: Items representative of the Pacific Northwest, local availability, variety, popularity, starting off the week with a solid example and then building up to a climactic finish.” Quality and speed of service, health and nutrition, and budgets are also important, according to Wayland-Smith.

Key lime pie

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For guests with special dietary needs, Wayland-Smith stresses the importance of educating the staff and working closely with guests to “modify menu items and preparation to fulfill their personal needs.”

Grilled double lamb chop with a maple-dijon glaze

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The American Empress has two different dining areas for guests to enjoy meals: The Astoria Dining Room and River Grill & Bar. The Astoria Dining Room offers “traditional service and elegant dining” for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while River Grill & Bar allows guests to take in the outdoor scenery while enjoying buffet-style breakfast and lunch and reservation-only dinners.

Alfresco dining at River Grill & Bar

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“We concentrated on building a menu with some of our best items for the River Grill & Bar,” said Wayland-Smith. “We wanted to create an environment to showcase the beautiful view.”

Whether dining at The Astoria Dining Room or River Grill & Bar, guests can expect “gracious and friendly service with high standards,” according to Wayland-Smith.

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