Holland America lures food and wine lovers with new celebrity chef cruises

Holland America lures food and wine lovers with new celebrity chef cruises
Food experts on Holland America's Culinary Council take the stage to announce a new program for the cruise line. (Holland America Line)

You can't have too many cooks in the kitchen, as far as Holland America Line is concerned.

The Seattle-based cruise line announced that it’s beefing up its Culinary Council, a group of seven celebrity chefs who consult and oversee dining in restaurants on the line’s 14 ships.


And the line is adding a celebrity wine expert to the mix.

The announcement came before the annual Seatrade Cruise conference, a four-day convention in Florida that brings together a global mix of cruise companies and vendors.

The Culinary Council is led by Austrian native Rudi Sodamin, Holland America’s master chef. He and six other chefs will focus on lending their expertise on a broad scale. They’ll also lead upcoming food and beverage-oriented cruises.

The council’s chefs “often only influence one restaurant or one area,” said Orlando Ashford, the cruise line’s president.

“Having seven world-class chefs enables us to cover our entire dining program and utilize their collective passion and creativity so all guests can enjoy their cuisine,” he said.

The chef-accompanied voyages, called Food and Beverage Aficionado Cruises, will include cooking, cocktail or wine demonstrations. Passengers will get to know the experts at presentations, meet them for photo opportunities and attend a special dinner.

In addition to the new concentration on food, wine expert James Suckling has been named the line’s wine curator. Suckling served as European bureau chief of Wine Spectator and European editor of Cigar Aficionado for many years. He now rates about 17,000 wines annually.

Holland America also works with Dale DeGroff, master mixologist, on its beverage program

Upcoming Food and Beverage cruises, and the chefs who will accompany them, include:

— Rudi Sodamin, Culinary Council chairman, will sail on the Koningsdam on a seven-day, round-trip Norse Legends voyage beginning July 1 in Amsterdam.

— David Burke, featured on the TV shows “Iron Chef America” and “Top Chefs America,” specializes in contemporary American cuisine and is a master of French culinary techniques. He will sail Sept. 13 on Zuiderdam on a 10-day Colors of Canada and New England voyage from New York City to Quebec, Canada.

— Japanese-born Andy Matsuda, the newest member of the council, heads up Matsuda’s Sushi Chef Institute in Los Angeles. He will sail on the Nieuw Amsterdam on a seven-day, round-trip Western Caribbean cruise beginning March 17 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He also will accompany the Koningsdam on a seven-day, round-trip Norse Legends cruise on June 3 in Amsterdam.

— Ethan Stowell, a mover and shaker on the food scene in Seattle, is another recent addition to the Culinary Council. He will accompany the Eurodam on a seven-day, round-trip Alaskan Explorer voyage on May 26 in Seattle. He also will join the Amsterdam on a seven-day, round-trip Alaskan Explorer voyage on Sept. 16 from Seattle.

— Jacques Torres, known as Mr. Chocolate for his confections, is co-host and head judge on the new Netflix culinary show “Nailed It,” which debuts Friday. He will sail June 24 with the Westerdam on a seven-day Glacier Discovery cruise from Vancouver, Canada, to Seward, Alaska. He also will sail on the Veendam on a round-trip, 14-day Summer Cuba cruise on Aug. 4 from Boston.


— Dale DeGroff, master mixologist, will sail on the Zuiderdam on an 18-day Azores and Normandy cruise on April 22 from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Copenhagen, Denmark. He also will sail with the Oosterdam on a seven-day, round-trip Tropical Caribbean cruise beginning Nov. 10 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Other members of the Culinary Council are Jonnie Boer, whose restaurant De Librije in the Netherlands has earned a three-star Michelin rating every year since 2004; and San Franciscan Elizabeth Falkner, a frequent judge and competitor on the Food Network, who specializes in lighter fare.

Info: Holland America, (877) 932-4259 or contact a travel agent