Sea ViewsFrom President and COO, Adam Goldstein

Sea Views Blog with Adam Goldstein

Guest Post – We’ve Chosen the Winner of Our Chef Search for 150 Central Park on Allure!

CIA Alumni

The Royal Caribbean team all headed to Hyde Park, New York and the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) for the final phase of our contest for the selection of the new Chef de Cuisine for 150 Central Park on Allure of the Seas.  I had never been to the CIA campus, and a word we are very familiar with at Royal came to mind – WOW.  This is a very impressive and picturesque campus. I highly encourage a trip to visit the facility and enjoy the culinary treats.  The smells alone were intoxicating.  I would also like to thank the chefs from the CIA that worked with us on this search, as they were awesome.  This included Master Chefs Ron, Rudy, Lou and Victor, all famous in their own right and we were very fortunate to get their expertise and input during this unique search process.

After the tour, we began the panel interview process with each of the six candidates.  This was our opportunity to meet them and ask them questions about their history, motivations, and really get a sense of their passion and interests.  We wanted to ensure they weren’t only skilled Chefs, but could manage a staff and have good leadership skills as well professional presence and personality to meet with our guests in 150 Central Park.  The whole idea behind 150 Central Park is for the restaurant to take on the personality of the Chef, so that is why we were so careful to balance all these requirements. Each candidate received a score on how they interviewed.  The candidates then had two hours of prep work to begin to get ready for the big day where they actually prepared their meals for us.

150 Central Park Competition

Day two started with all six candidates preparing a three course tasting meal for us – this included an appetizer, entrée and dessert. A crucial part of the selection process was also observing how the Chefs organized themselves, how they managed their assistant, their processes in the kitchen, how organized their workspace was, including their refrigerators!  The CIA judges as well as our Royal judges kept close observation on their skill level and how they used their allotted time to prepare for the tasting.

CIA Chef Search

The final aspect of the contest was actually judging the food they prepared. We evaluated each meal on taste, presentation, execution and how the Chef presented what they had created.  Each of the six Chefs created 5 meals for sharing with the 10 judges, and we had one for display that we could refer to after they were all completed.  If you do the math, that means we each tasted 18 different food selections between the appetizers, entrees and desserts!!!  Yes 18!!!!  (I also have to admit that I did try every dish, including the snapper and the halibut from two of the chefs.  I will also admit that I actually really enjoyed it, so perhaps I will end up eating fish after all).  Following this portion of the interview process we had an open discussion about each candidate and then tabulated the scores, which included the points from the “Fan Favorite”, as well as the interviews, the food preparation and, finally, the taste and presentation of the food.  Later that evening, we had a cocktail party and dinner for all the contestants, and that is where we announced our winner.

Our winner, who also happens to be the fan favorite, is Maureen (Molly) Brandt.  Molly not only has an impressive background that includes being a culinary intern at the Food Network but also being a teaching assistant at the CIA. The menu she prepared for the contest included an appetizer of chilled lobster with citrus, caviar and a tempura battered lobster mitt (my new favorite food item).  Her entrée featured Provencal lamb loin, Dijon potato puree, ratatouille and Patty pan squash stuffed with an olive tapenade. Dessert was a unique creation of pistachio cake, whipped rosewater crème fraiche and carbonated raspberries. We are all thrilled that the partnership with the CIA resulted in 150 Central Park getting such a great young talent.  Molly will be joining Oasis in a few weeks to begin her immersion into shipboard life and begin the menu creation for 150 Central Park on Allure. We can’t wait to see what she creates for Allure!

 As we finalized and reviewed the whole process, we also capitalized on a unique opportunity that presented itself to us. We were going to begin a search for the next Chef for 150 Central Park on Oasis of the Seas for year two of the operation.  The runner up on the CIA contest was Daniel Fein.  We were very impressed with him and offered him the position on Oasis! Daniel’s background includes some great experience, including working for Cameron Mitchell. We all loved the very playful menu he prepared for us, which included “Southern Style Grilled Cheese and Tomatoes” for an appetizer that included heirloom tomatoes with blue grit cakes, blue cheese mousse as well as an argula and basil salad with lemon fennel oil.  The entrée was “Not your Mom’s Pork and Applesauce” which was apple jalapeno glazed pork tenderloin with couscous, cauliflower sauce and an apple and jicama slaw. Dessert was “Breakfast to Bed” a vanilla honey waffle with homemade blackberry ice cream, with a blackberry reduction and lemon whipped cream.  Daniel really did his homework on Royal Caribbean and we look forward to welcoming him to the Royal family as well.

I hope I have tantalized your taste buds enough, and I look forward to welcoming you onboard either of the ships to enjoy the dishes these great young chefs will prepare.  We know that the overall culinary and dining experience onboard is very important to our guests, which is why we have been working hard to bring a creative new approach to various dining experiences onboard Royal Caribbean.  I could share a lot more about this entire great experience, but I really have to go for a nice long run now after these two days!!!!!!

6 responses to:
“Guest Post – We’ve Chosen the Winner of Our Chef Search for 150 Central Park on Allure!”

  1. Carmen Henesy

    It was fun reading about all the effort put forth in finding that special person to serve as head chef at 150 Central Park on the Allure of the Seas. The menus were amazing and, of course, I loved dining, vicariously. How I would love to sample the real thing. In a little over 15 years I managed to acquire 78 cruise credits with Royal Caribbean and an immeasurably amount of joy. Very sadly, seventeen months ago, in massive budget cuts to San Francisco’s Dept of Public Health, I lost my forensic nursing job of 21 years. Retirement income does not allow me to cruise anymore but I will continue to encourage everyone I know to sail with the company I have grown to know and love. Royal Caribbean has the finest crew sailing the seven seas.

    • Adam

      Carmen, we are happy that you enjoyed reading this post, thank you for your support. We appreciate your loyalty and your kind words. Best of luck, we hope that we will be able to sail with you again soon.

  2. Margie

    I am scheduled to go on a cruise in several days. I just called and was disappointed to find out that Royal Caribbean routinely uses hydrogenated oils (trans fats) in their cooking. I must say that I am dismayed after the harmful effects of trans fats have been so public. Major cities have outlawed their use in restaurants and even Disney World has stopped using all trans fats since 2007. I am very nervous and upset that we are about to embark on a cruise where the food will contain these invisible poisons. While my husband and I can make choices that are least likely to contain these harmful chemicals, we are bringing 2 children on the cruise with us and we now have to spend the entire vacation monitoring what they eat because we can’t have confidence that the food is made from natural ingredients. I implore Royal Caribbean to please eradicate these chemicals from your kitchens.

    • Adam

      Margie, we are so glad you asked, as we think that it is imperative that our guests have all the correct information about their Royal Caribbean cruises. We were actually one of the first cruise lines to have made the move to remove trans fat from its menus, which began in March of 2007. You’ll be happy to hear that we have a fully trans-fat-free menu fleetwide. Thank you for reaching out to us, and we look forward to sailing with you and your family soon.

  3. Holly C. Bittman

    Today we visited the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY for a tour and lunch. We happened to be in the Hospitality Room at the school and a teacher there said, “Molly got the job as a chef at Royal Caribbean and she was in my class”. This was overheard by a friend of mine who was in the room and told me about it as my husband and I are Diamond Plus cruisers. I checked here to be sure as I saw it recently posted and yes, it is Molly! We have been on Oasis and are going on Allure in May so we will look her up and congratulate her! Small world wouldn’t you say??

    • Adam

      Holly, it certainly is a small world! Thank you for joining us in congratulating Molly on this great accomplishment, we are happy to have her as Chef de Cuisine for 150 Central Park on Allure of the Seas. We look forward to seeing you onboard Allure of the Seas in May 2011.

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