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Celebrity chef Curtis Stone tells Yahoo Travel why he, or at least his food, is headed out to sea. (Photo: Princess Cruises)
It’s almost impossible to get a table at Australian celebrity chef Curtis Stone’s hot L.A. restaurant, Maude. So if you want to sample his culinary artistry, you might have to book a cruise.
Stone, best known for his cookbooks and his appearances on the Food Network’s “All-Star Academy” and hosting the new show “Beach Eats USA,” is the latest celebrity chef to hop on the cruise ship bandwagon. He’s partnered with Princess Cruises to bring a restaurant bearing his name to several ships.
At an unveiling event/tasting in Los Angeles, Stone talked to Yahoo Travel about what he (literally) plans to bring to the table.
Related: Confessions of a Cruise Ship Chef
“Truly, it’s not something I ever thought about,” Stone told us about partnering with a cruise line. He says the issue didn’t come up until a Princess Cruises executive managed to snag a table at Maude recently. The two got to talking, and talking some more, about taking Stone’s signature cooking style to the sea.
“Not long after that he called me and said, “Are you interested in doing something together?” Stone said. “I was blown away!”
The Ruby Princess is one of the ships that will house Stone’s newest restaurant venture. (Photo: Princess Cruises/Flickr)
A partnership was born! “SHARE by Curtis Stone” is scheduled to debut aboard Ruby Princess and Emerald Princess this December, likely as a premium restaurant for which passengers have to pay more (Princess has not announced pricing). He’s also devising “Crafted by Curtis” menus that Princess will roll out to its entire fleet, starting with the Golden Princess this fall.
Stone’s new partnership makes him one of a number of celebrity chefs who’ve decided to put on sailor hats in addition to their chef hats. Foodie superstars Jamie Oliver (Royal Caribbean), Guy Fieri (Carnival), Thomas Keller (Seabourn), and Nobu Matsuhisa (Crystal) also have lent their names and recipes to cruise ships.
Related: Surviving the Cruise Ship Buffet
Cruise lines see such collaborations as win-win-win situations: passengers get a new culinary experience about which they can brag to their friends; celebrity chefs get a chance to expand their brands to people who may not be familiar with them; and cruise lines get marquee names they can use to promote their own brands and lure more passengers aboard.
Jamie Oliver (right, next to chef Devin Alexander) is one of the many foodie rock stars partnering with cruise ships; his “Jamie’s Italian” restaurants are featured aboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean)
In addition to the obvious promotional (and financial) perks of his new Princess deal, Stone also sees a personal benefit. “I guess as someone who’s always surrounded himself with good food and good travel, this sort of joins those two things together beautifully,” he said.
As the name implies, SHARE by Curtis Stone adds a new twist to cruise ship dining by encouraging sharing among your table mates. According to concept renderings just released by Princess, SHARE will be made up of big long tables that promote a communal dining experience. Dishes like butter-roasted lobster with caramelized endive and endive foam, twice-cooked duck leg with fennel, and tagliatelle with roasted Alaskan crab will be served on small plates and passed around the table.
SHARE by Curtis Stone features big tables that encourage sharing. (Photo: Princess Cruises)
“Small plates give us a bit more flexibility to show off more of the menu,” Stone told Yahoo Travel. “A couple could try six savory courses then a couple of desserts.”
That looks good, but we had to ask: if everyone’s idea of enjoying a cruise is stuffing their faces, will people be willing to actually share their delicious food with a bunch of strangers?
“Sharing of food is so ingrained,” Stone told reporters. “In Chinese-style banquets, all the food comes out to the center of the table and then everyone sort of leans in and shares. I love that style of eating because you get such a variety in terms of what you can eat.”
But for the sea-faring gluttons among us, Stone’s quick to add: “By the way, you don’t have to share. You can eat it all yourself. I hope the food tastes so good that you won’t want to share it.”
We’ll soon see if passengers agree. But with Stone joining a long, illustrious list of celebrity chefs at sea, and with there being only just so many cruise lines, it looks like foodie rock stars are fighting for restaurant space on the high seas. And that’s one prize they don’t seem willing to share.