December 31, 2009
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Cunard Ambassadors
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 285 days
Although this Blog is being posted on New Year’s Eve, I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year for 2010. It’s going to be a very exciting year for us at Cunard, as we welcome Queen Elizabeth to the fleet in October, and we’ll follow her progress to that big day with regular Blogs including photos, videos, and announcements as they happen. In fact I’ll have some pictures to post on Monday, just before her float out ceremony on Tuesday. I’ll be there and will post plenty of pictures and video shortly afterwards. Before I get to this week’s post, thank you so much again for your continued support of this Blog; it’s fantastic that so many of you are logging on each week. Also thank you for all your comments as it’s always great to hear from you, so please keep them coming during 2010. Now it’s time to see how Cunard has marked the New Year in Cunard’s history, for the week 1 to 7January:
1 January 1934 Cunard merges with rival White Star and Olympic, Majestic and Georgic all transfer to Cunard
2 January 1969QE2 arrives in Southampton for the first time
4 January 1949 Known as the ‘Green Goddess’ due to the colour of her hull, Caronia embarks on her maiden voyage to New York
4 January 1975 QE2 sails from Southampton on her first World Cruise – a journey of 38,000 miles
6 January 2008 Queen Victoria begins her maiden World Cruise, crossing the Atlantic with QE2 as she begins her final World Cruise.
Interview with Cunard’s Culinary Ambassador – Jean-Marie Zimmermann
Many of you may have met Jean-Marie Zimmermann on either Queen Mary 2 or Queen Victoria as the Executive Chef. He is now Cunard’s Global Culinary Ambassador, since he was appointed Corporate Executive Chef for the Cunard fleet and his work has drawn international praise for his interpretive Classic Modern Cuisine. As well as his menus for the many restaurants on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, Chef Zimmermann has created sensational menus for distinguished guests including HM Queen Elizabeth II, HM Queen Noor of Jordan, President George H Bush, the President of Mexico, Ambassadors to the United Nations as well as stars of music, stage, TV and screen. He has cooked for many celebrity guests on Cunard ships including Sarah, Duchess of York, Terry Waite, Lenny Kravitz, Patrick Duffy, Terrence Howard and Bo Derek. The James Beard Foundation acknowledged Chef Zimmermann for outstanding contribution to the foundation in July 2009.
Born in Strasbourg in the Alsace region of France, Jean Marie discovered his love of cooking from his grandmother. He developed his skills working in the most respected gastronomic restaurant in his city and after this apprenticeship he headed for Cannes, Juan Les Pins, and Monte Carlo before settling in London. He was appointed Executive Chef at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, and the Britannia Intercontinental Hotel. He received Sheraton Hotels’ award for culinary excellence while also being their youngest Executive Chef in Europe and Africa.
He was proprietor of “The Warrener” restaurant in Berkshire, England; a restaurant recognised by Michelin and Egon Ronay for his classic modern cuisine. Diners included Diana, Princess of Wales, Michael Parkinson, Sir Terry Wogan and Ernie Wise. During that time he caught the culinary eye of one of the world’s most respected chefs, Michel Roux, owner of the Michelin 3 Star Waterside Inn at nearby Bray. They became both rivals in business and firm friends.
Now, after two years in the making and working with well-respected French publishers Glénat,Chef Jean-Marie Zimmermann has published his first208 pagerecipe book. Entitled “Ocean Liner Cuisine”, it is now on sale in France and on board Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria.
The book was co-authored with noted radio presenter RTL/FRANCE, Food Critic and Author for the Restaurant guide Routar, Jean-Sebastian Petitdemange. All the recipes were prepared and stunningly photographed by Jean-Francois Mallet, on Queen Mary 2.
I was grateful that Jean Marie was recently able to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions:
It must be quite an honour to be Cunard’s Culinary Ambassador. Could you tell us a bit more about the role and what it involves?
I am responsible for the quality and style of the gastronomy in all Cunard restaurants and work on designing the operational side of all new restaurants, and am currently working hard on innovations for Queen Elizabeth. I am responsible for establishing the food specifications for our menus and work very closely with our purchasing department. I am involved in choosing all the suppliers for Cunard and will only work with the freshest and highest quality produce. I introduce menu changes when necessary throughout the year and ensure that we are keeping within our food budgets. Here I am in my favourite place – the galley at work:
I am also responsible for the safety of the food and public health in all the galleys on our ships. I work very closely with my team of over hundred chefs and act as their motivator and critic, always ensuring they are meeting the highest standards for our guests.
I have just seen the Queen Mary 2 Cookbook, which is superb. Could you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the book?
Whether in my kitchens in luxury hotels in London, my own restaurant in Berkshire, or on board luxury liners, my passion is the same; I love to produce dishes that excite the eye and the palate. Queen Mary 2 is the quintessential grand ocean liner, and like a grand hotel she carries certain traditions; elegance, style, superb restaurants and innovative cuisine. Whether it’s afternoon tea with white glove service in the Queens Room, traditional fish and chips for lunch in the Golden Lion Pub, or a five course supper in the Queens or Princess Grill; it all takes passion to create and present. This passion comes not just from me; but from the hundreds of chefs, waiters, and officers who are part of this creation. We spend so much time deciding what should be served, how it can be prepared, how it can be delivered in excellent condition, how we can make it more attractive to the eye therefore exciting the diners’ palates. How could we communicate this? The obvious answer was a book that would allow guests to take some of these experiences home with them.
How far in advance do you order food for our ships, especially considering the huge amount of planning that must go into a World Voyage?
I will not forget the first transatlantic voyage on Queen Mary 2 when we ran out of, of all things, turkey! It isn’t always possible to just stop off somewhere and pick up what we need. We always have to think ahead, not only what food, but the logistics of getting the right food to the right port at the right time. We work several months in advance with the purchasing team, to ensure orders are in place in ample time, so that there is a timely delivery. As we attract a diverse clientele on all voyages, especially the World Voyage, we like to bring cuisine of the various regions we visit to our guests on board, by purchasing local specialities so we can offer those as specials on board.
When you are at home in France, who does the cooking?
Traditionally I used to do much of the cooking at home, but more recently my wife has decided to spend more time there and she enjoys it. With more frequent stays in hotels I don’t get such a chance to cook, although when I’m on the oceans I am cooking or watching others cook. When I’m at home we both get pleasure from making forays to local markets, farms, vineyards and producers to seek out the freshest and most natural ingredients, so that we can enjoy the kitchen between us. As for the actual cooking, we both enjoy watching the other cook, so we tend to go for our own specialities so we don’t create any conflict in the kitchen!
Are there any particular trends in on board cuisine at the moment?
Guests seem to be increasingly enjoying the opportunity to dine in alternative restaurants, as well as new International cuisine in a more familiar setting. Being on board ship guests have greater confidence in the source of the ingredients and know that the kitchens will be spotless and that the chefs are well-trained.
What and where would be your perfect restaurant?
It would be a bright, light restaurant on the coast; perhaps somewhere on the Riviera where it could take advantage of that light. It would use the freshest of ingredients from the sea; as well as organic produce from nearby farms and the breads and patisserie would be created in-house.
What is the most frequent question you get asked – and what is the answer?
“What is your favourite cuisine?” I’d have to be very French and say “French of course.” That’s not really a truthful answer, because it’s probably International cuisine that I have demonstrated over the years. But most recently the question I hear most is; “When will there be another book?” Well, for that we shall just have to wait and see.
You’ve achieved so much already – are there any other dreams you have yet to fulfil?
I guess my dream would be to create that delightful restaurant in Paris or one by the sea and maybe retire there someday surrounded by family.
And finally; what is your favourite quote and who said it?
“It is not what we do; it is how much love we put in the doing”. (Mother Teresa)
I’d like to thank Jean-Marie for taking the time to chat to me, and if you would like to more information about Jean-Marie Zimmermann and his cuisine you can log on to his website at www.ChefZimmermann.com. I’m returning to Monfalcone on Tuesday for the float out ceremony of Queen Elizabeth and will do my best to get you the pictures as soon as possible. Before that, I’ll be posting some pictures, which have just come from the shipyard, on Monday. Cheers Alastair