Known as much for his fierce TV persona as for his groundbreaking cuisine, Marco Pierre White shares his love affair with onboard cuisine with Bernadette Chua.
The original bad boy of cooking and the youngest chef to be awarded three Michelin stars, Marco Pierre White paired up with P&O UK in 2008. His latest project was to craft a menu for Britannia, which launched last year.
The ship’s specialty restaurants include The Epicurean, which serves afternoon tea by master patissier Eric Lanlard and dinner with British TV chef James Martin. Cruise Passenger spoke with Marco Pierre White about his partnership with the line.
What one misconception about cruise food do you want to dispel?
The amount of work and time invested in delivering food to a consistently high standard for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, 52 weeks a year is staggering. I am proud to be involved in an operation that has such exacting standards.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in cruise food since you joined P&O in 2008?
Investment in kitchen facilities, staff, front of house, training and menu development over the past 10 years is extraordinary.
What is your favourite onboard dining experience?
My very favourite dining experience on P&O Cruises is eating outside at night, particularly on the terrace of Epicurean on Azura and Ventura. Sitting under the stars is wonderful and the dishes are of a consistently high standard, with great variety. The amazing thing about dining at sea is that there is a place which fits your mood and dining requirement, however you feel and wherever you are in the world.
What’s your favourite dish?
I always class it as a great privilege when the staff in the kitchen cook me an Indian lunch. Without question this the greatest Indian food I’ve ever eaten, even after extensive travel in India and Sri Lanka.
Passengers have become fascinated by food and where it comes from. Do you enjoy shore excursions?
The most important part of any holiday, on sea or land, is undoubtedly food and, more crucially, the specialties of the region. The world’s appetite for eating and buying has grown enormously and the shore excursions enable the traveller to get to the heart of each port of call and taste the dishes typical of each place as well as seeing the local producers, markets and restaurants. For me, it is one of the most special elements of the cruise – seeing and eating the dishes which have been made the same way for hundreds of years, recipes which have been handed down through generations and which we are fortunate enough to be able to share. These are magical days on shore.
Tell us about Britannia’s cooking school.
There is no other cookery school in the world that has had as many famous, talented and Michelin-starred chefs taking masterclasses as the one on Britannia. Whether it is a celebrity chef or the superb resident chef taking the themed masterclasses, the experience in the cookery school is equally informative, fun and useful. The gourmet, specialty hosted dinners, with the sun setting outside the window, are an unforgettable experience and give guests the opportunity to watch and learn from experienced, well-known chefs.
You oversee Battlechefs, a cooking show at sea for TV in the UK. Tell us about it.
It is food, travel and entertainment at its very best. The specialties and culture of each port shine through as the chefs research and immerse themselves with the locals before cooking dinner for the captain and his guests.
What is something innovative you’d like to do with onboard dining?
If there were no boundaries, I would turn the entire deck space into a candlelit alfresco restaurant serving the very best grills and seafood. On a warm Caribbean evening it would be magical.
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