Culinary travel reaches a new zenith now that the James Beard Foundation has launched its Culinary Collection series of eight 2017-2018 cruises onboard Windstar’s small luxury cruise line.
On its fleet of bespoke yachts, Windstar has launched its stellar James Beard program with exclusive menus created and prepared by guest chefs, including “Top Chef” judge Hugh Acheson and Renee Erickson, the Seattle-based chef who won the 2016 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northwest. Regionally and nationally celebrated chefs – including Andy Ricker, Keith Rhodes and Mario Pagan – are booked to travel on special 2018 cruises and will rotate original recipes onto ship menus throughout the coming year.
The first James Beard cruise of 2018 is “Icons of Southeast Asia,” a 14-day journey on the Star Legend, embarking on January 20 from Hong Kong to Bangkok. It features two-time James Beard award-winner Andy Ricker, the celebrated Thai cuisine chef known for his trendy Pok-Pok restaurants in New York and Portland, Oregon. Each year, he spends several months in Thailand, studying the food culture there and in neighboring countries, including Vietnam, but this will be his first time accompanying an intimate group of passengers. Each night, he will serve 200-300 cruisers a signature dish in the Star Legend’s AmphorA dining room, and will host a private cooking demonstration.
The ongoing infusion of new destination-inspired locavore fare created by James Beard-affiliated chefs will enhance Windstar dining experiences as the culinary partnership rolls out and expands. While megaships continue to license celebrity chef restaurant franchises-at-sea – most notably Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa (Crystal), Jamie Oliver (Royal Caribbean), Jacques Pepin (Oceania), Thomas Keller (Seabourn), Arnaud Lallement and Scott Hunnel (Disney), Jose Garces (Norwegian), Guy Fieri (Carnival), and Curtis Stone, Ernesto Uchimura, and master chocolatier Norman Love (Princess) – Windstar’s small fleet of intimate ships and yachts goes the extra mile to create personalized local dining experiences with a carefully-curated selection of eight James Beard award-winning chefs traveling alongside passengers, with special nightly menus included at no additional charge.
“While some cruise lines boast a celebrity chef or offer a special restaurant experience on board for an additional fee, we have an entire arsenal of chefs who give us the ability to focus on regional cuisine that’s aligned with each chef’s specialty,” said Windstar President John Delaney. “This equates to more memorable meals at sea, prepared with locally-sourced ingredients by some of the most recognized culinary talent in the world – all as part of our regular Windstar guest experience.”