The Chef's Table
Aboard Holland America Line's ms
by Linda Coffman
By day, Westerdam's Queen's Lounge is the location of the
Culinary Arts Center, where cooking demonstrations and hands-on
classes are offered in the
state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen.
When the sun goes down, it
doubles as an elegant nightclub with live music for dancing, a venue
for late night comedy, and a theater where movies are screened.
However, one evening a week the Queen's Lounge is transformed
into a setting for fine dining at the Chef's Table. With
reservations limited to only twenty-four diners, the Chef's Table is
an exquisite five course pairing of wines selected by Cellar Master Saurabh
to complement the gourmet dishes prepared a la minute by Executive Chef Andreas
in the Culinary Arts Center's show kitchen.
"A meal without wine is breakfast." Chef
As we arrived and took our seats, Chef Andreas broke the ice by introducing us to the menu and
sharing his passion for food by serving an "Amuse" with champagne to
get us started while he began to cook.
As we sampled the unexpected
course of Dungeness Crab Cake, prepared in the Pinnacle Grill
galley (the only dish not cooked on the spot), Chef Andreas began to explain the next
Ginger Marinated Plump Scallops
Enhanced with a spicy orange marmalade and wasabi
Complemented by 2007 Chateau Ste Michelle & Dr. Loosen
Eroica Riesling, Washington State
Chilled Lime Froth
Served with cayenne crusted carmelized crab legs
Matched with 2008 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand
Potato Chests with Mushrooms
Filled with a truffle flavored cognac cream and
accompanied by caviar on the rox
Paired with Conundrum, California
Chef's Indulging Version of Surf and
The famous filet and lobster dish with an Asian twist
Enjoy with Domaine de la Serre Cailloux, France
of Tropical Cheesecakes
A trio of Blue Mountain Coffee, Mango-Chili, and
Lime-Tequila cheesecakes, served with a spiced strawberry sabayon
(illustrated right by Chef Andreas)
Made sweeter by NV Graham Six Grape Port Wine, Portugal
Dinner and A Show
The Chef's Table is fine dining, but more than that.
As he prepared each dish, screens overhead in the Culinary Arts
Center captured Chef Andreas at work. His banter was informative as
he explained why certain ingredients would work with others and how
to avert disaster when mixing them.
Chef Andreas also discussed kitchen gadgets and the cook's
workspace. For instance, he let us in on the secret to the quickest
way to clean a cutting board—"turn
As participants in a unique dining experience, we were encouraged
to interact with Chef Andreas. Questions, such as, "do we dunk the
crab leg in the frothy lime?" were asked. No. Some of us were
relieved to know because we weren't sure either. Although served
together, they were two distinct flavors, the tart chilled lime soup
and the sweet, peppery crab balanced each other beautifully.
Skeptics among us who frowned when Chef Andreas said the filet
for the main course would be prepared "medium" were reassured that
we wouldn't be disappointed. I, for one, thought it would be too
"done," but the meat was fork tender, juicy, and delicious. The
lobster accompanying it was one of the most flavorful crustaceans
I've ever tasted.
Cellar Master Saurabh introduced the wine for each course and
explained why it was chosen. He mingled among the tables and was available
to answer our questions.
Chef's Table is a new dining concept for Holland
America Line aboard Westerdam and, at about $130 per person, the
seats are booked quickly each week. It's proven so popular that Holland
America guests should look for it to be introduced fleetwide in the