July 30, 2009
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Ship's Company
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 404days
Thank you again for all the great feedback and questions. Thanks particularly to Theresa Arrowsmith as it’s great to hear family stories, especially when a life at sea seems to be in the blood. I know there is a lot of interest regarding Queen Elizabeth, but I’m afraid that announcements about her first Master and other details have yet to be made, but rest assured I’ll let you know as soon as I know.
Some news I can give you, is that the results of the annualSuperbrands survey in the UK have just been announced. The survey is a major piece of research amongst thousands of consumers and a panel of experts that looks at which brands are recognized as the ‘best in their field’.It reveals that consumers are seeking out brands and companies that act as dominant brand ‘presidents’ in their categories. I’m delighted to say Cunard is selected as the Brand President within the ‘Travel General’ category and comes in as the highest ranking cruise line within the 500 selected Superbrands.
Before we get to this week’s special interview here’s “This week in Cunard’s History” for the week, 31st July to 6th August:
July 31 1951
Caronia completes her first North Cape voyage arriving back in Southampton
August 1 1996
QE2 makes her maiden call to Helsinki, Finland
August 6 1929
The Britannic is launched at Harland & Wolf in Belfast and becomes part of the Cunard Fleet in January 1934
August 6 2008
Queen Victoria makes maiden call to Cannes, France
Many of you who have sailed on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will have hopefully enjoyed a special night in the Todd English restaurant. For this Blog we thought we would find out a little bit more about the man behind these amazing restaurants in a fascinating interview. Firstly here’s a background on this multitalented chef.
Award-winning restaurateur and celebrity chef Todd English is one of the culinary world’s brightest stars. Throughout his illustrious two-decade career, he has received numerous honours and accolades by several of the industry’s most prestigious publications. In addition, he established one of the best-known restaurants in America (Olives), published three acclaimed cookbooks (The Olives Table, The Figs Table and The Olives Dessert Table), and has been featured in many TV programmes including his own Emmy-nominated show, Food Trip with Todd English.He has even been named one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People!” When Cunard began developing Queen Mary 2’s restaurants, the goal was to create an alternative restaurant that would delight guests ranging from first-timeCunarders to well seasoned world travellers.Todd English stood above all others because of his innovative approach to Mediterranean-inspired faire that combines comfort-food with a sense of style. His first venture at sea, simply named “Todd English” opened aboard Queen Mary 2 in 2004.In December 2007, Chef English attended the royal naming ceremony of Queen Victoria and joined Cunard in opening his second Todd English restaurant at sea. In early 2008 Chef English partnered with actress Eva Longoria to open his first west coast restaurant in Hollywood (Beso).Later that year he opened The Libertine in New York’s Gild Hall Hotel, offering his own interpretation of “pub fare” complete with an upstairs Library Bar.
You can find out more about Todd English’s restaurants on board in these three consecutive video clips which are currently showing on both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria.
Todd English was kind enough to spend some time to talk to us about his life, restaurants and association with Cunard so; on with the interview.
Special Interview – Celebrity Chef – Todd English
How did your partnership with Cunard come about?
Shortly after my New York Olives restaurant opened 9 years ago Cunard approached me as they were looking for something new and different for their new ocean liner under development, Queen Mary 2, and I fit that description! So I went to London and we started the concept and design processes for the restaurant.
Could you tell us a bit about what inspires your style of cuisine?
It is inspired by all the Mediterranean regions where olives grow.I’ve been studying for over 20 years, and I’ve travelled to many places and sampled lots of cultures and cuisines so I get a lot of ideas from traveling, and I reinterpret a lot of what I see and infuse it with my own style.It’s layered, and complex, but the ingredients are local, and I rework them with a Mediterranean sensibility.
The Todd English restaurants on board Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria are stunning; could you give us an idea of what goes in to their design?
I wanted to do the restaurants so that you felt like you weren’t necessarily on the ship.I wanted to give the feeling like you were walking down a New York City neighborhood and found the perfect place; beautiful and inviting, combining elegance with sophistication.
What would you say are the differences between planning menus for Cunard and for your restaurants on land?
Well you have to base the menu around what you can get on board, and you have to plan ahead of course.That’s why the restaurants feature what I like to call, The Greatest Hits of Todd English, because they offer a wide variety of all my best dishes, and incorporate the local ingredients from the various ports of call that the ships visit.
In addition to being an award winning chef with many restaurants throughout America, you manage to write acclaimed cookbooks, appear on television programmes and be involved with the two Todd English restaurants on board – how do you manage to fit it all in?
It’s a people business, and it definitely gets tough to balance it all, but you’ve got to get out there and push yourself and try everything if you’re going to succeed.I’ve hired the best people and I trust my team to do a good job whether I’m there or not, and they do!
What is your favourite city in the world for food and why?
I love Sushi, so right now it’s Tokyo.One; because it’s so different from what I do, and two; because the food is pure, clean, and simple, in a certain way.I’m such a sushi junkie that I’d like to open my own Sushi restaurant to support my habit!
What is your favourite restaurant in the world?
Since my mother’s kitchen isn’t an official restaurant, I’d have to say Daiwa Sushi in Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.
What do you enjoy to eat if you are lucky enough to have a relaxing evening at home?
Spaghetti.I love my homemade pasta.
What would be your ultimate meal and who would be your chosen dinner guest (from any era) to share it with?
Japanese food from Daiwa Sushi in Tokyo, Japan.I’d like to share it with the late Julia Child because she was the ultimate culinary master.We’d order the finest A5 grade Kobe beef, the delicious Ohtoro,(bluefin tuna) and Chuutoro sushi, and the finest quality shari (rice); and of course, only the most superb and delicate Daiginjo sake.
What would be your best piece of advice to anyone dining in one of your restaurants for the first time?
Don’t be afraid.My menus feature common ingredients, but in uncommon ways, but trust me, the food tastes good!
And what would be your best advice to any Cunard guests for when they are cooking at home?
Keep it simple and use lots of fresh ingredients!
You have achieved so much already- are there any other dreams you have yet to fulfill?
Yes, I’ve always wanted to have my own vineyard somewhere in a Mediterranean climate.
Many thanks to Todd English for taking the time to chat to me and if you would like to explore more of the culinary world of Todd English you can go to his website: – www.toddenglish.com.
I’ll be back again soon with more news and hopefully in the next few weeks an update from the Fincantieri ship yard in Monfalcone on the progress of Queen Elizabeth as well as some exciting news about Sir Terry Wogan’s next TOG’s voyage. Cheers Alastair