A lot has happened since Focolare Bar and Bistro in New York City. Recently, I was hired as the Italian chef for the very prestigious Oceania Cruises. This is a great position with one of the top cruise line companies in the world. They are also known to have the best cuisine on the high seas.
I spent the summer of 2009 deployed in the Mediterranean on Oceania’s Insignia. The workload on this type of voyage is tremendous since Mediterranean cruises are extremely popular, but the comradery that comes with it is priceless. The ship is staffed with an international crew. You’ll find nearly every nationality more or less while working onboard a cruise ship. This offers a great opportunity to make friends with people from around the world. This particular Mediterranean cruise was fantastic! The majority of the ports of call were in Italy, France, Spain, and the Greek Islands. We also extended out a few times to include Turkey, Israel, and Egypt.
The award-winning culinary program of Oceania Cruises is directed under the watchful eye of Master Chef Jacques Pepin. I’ve been watching chef Pepin’s PBS cooking programs since I was a small child. He is one of my all-time favorite chefs. It was a great thrill and an honor to have met him and his travel group. What was even more exciting was that I got to personally cook for Jacques Pepin and his entire entourage in the Toscana restaurant that I headed for Oceania during the summer.
Chef Jacques recently announced the launch of his new restaurant on Oceania’s new ship called Marina which is set to launch in early 2011. The announcement was made by Jacques Pepin along with Oceania Cruises’ president Bob Binder and founder Frank Del Rio. Oceania Cruises recently ranked third in the luxury cruise line category in Travel + Leisure’s 2009 World’s Best Awards.
I’ve been cooking for nearly 20 years in many high-profile places where movie stars, politicians, (for me two Presidents — Reagan and Clinton) rock stars, and supermodels are often in the dining room. However, as a chef, to cook for another chef that you totally admire and look up to is the most memorable of all!
I am very proud to be the first American – well Italian-American, ever hired by Oceania to fill their Italian chef position. It’s nice to see that there are nice opportunities out there for American chefs that might want to work on a cruise ship. Traditionally most of these chef positions were filled by Europeans, but the cruise line industry is changing and now welcoming culinary talent from the United States. Very nice!
I hope to see you on Oceania Cruises. I’d love to cook for you too!
Learn more about the exotic voyages and beautiful ships of Oceania Cruises by clicking here.