Fun and Informative Cooking Demonstrations On A Cruise Ship
The Oceania Regatta cruise ship offered plenty to do on the cruise ship. There were many different enrichment seminars and a wide variety of entertainment. This was important over the 26 days we were onboard this cruise ship! The duelling chefs entertainment was probably our favourite!
On an early “sea day” we learned that there would be a cooking demonstration in the main lounge. We were intrigued enough to add this to our busy plan for the day. How would we know that this would turn out to be one of our favourite entertainment sessions on board. And we learned something too! We returned to view the cooking demonstrations 4 times over our 26 day cruise.
A Fun Cooking Class
Two cooking stations and one prep station was set up on the stage. Executive Chef Mario presided as the MC. He directed, teased and coached various chefs from the different restaurant venues on the preparation of key menu items. Both Mario and Paolo were from Italy (Sicily and Sardinia respectively). But as we had learned when we visited Italy for 10 weeks the previous year, the cooking in different parts of Italy often was very different. Mario did not always get it done his way!
When Mario worked with Lenka (from India), Lenka held his own. He insisted he was the expert at producing a curry based Thai dish. When pastry chef Renee joined him for one class, he towered over Mario. And it was clear that Renee was the expert for all sweet offerings.
While we got copies of the menus that would be prepared, Mario quickly tore the menu sheets up. He said that cooking was often much more creative and fun than just following the steps on a piece of paper.
Duelling Chefs Entertainment
While the pasta machine made great pasta, the chefs used the pasta as props as part of the duelling chefs entertainment.
Mario was the star of the show. But we got an extra entertaining day when the corporate French chef joined him. They debated the merits of French versus Italian style of cooking. The debate provided good duelling chefs entertainment. The good natured ribbing between them the two chefs left us laughing and not sure “to butter and not to butter”!
Throughout the cooking demonstration we were given a lot of information on how to cook better. And we even earned a glass of wine if we answered his questions just the way he wanted. Or asked a particularly interesting question. When Lenka ran out of wine to distribute, he finished distributing the rest of the bottle of cognac that Mario used in his shrimp pasta sauce.
We took the opportunity a few times when we saw the chefs as they walked around to follow up on questions that didn’t get answered during the demonstration. Just a few cooking tips we scribbled down at the cooking demonstration:
- Sear the risotto at the beginning before adding stock to seal it
- Don’t stir risotto, just occasionally shake the pot
- Put the liquid in risotto to level of rice (the stock should always be warm)
- Let the risotto rest after 18 minutes – add butter to bind the rice and Parmesan cheese for taste
- Sear all meat (from room temp) at a high temperature with the meat covered with a light flour – to keep in juices
- To cool down oil to keep it from burning, add a little butter
- Cook meat on medium heat slowly
- Sear scallops on high heat – to get rid of water
- Flambé with alcohol is used to to keep the taste but lose the alcohol taste
- Don’t add salt when you cook – can’t take salt out
- Don’t use Semolina in pasta dough for pasta you are cooking fresh – only use it for “hard” pasta (e.g. lasagna that gets put in the oven)
- Make pasta and keep it in fridge for 24 hours to mix the flavour and improve the elasticity – add a teaspoon of vinegar to make sure the colour doesn’t change
- When making pizza dough, add a pinch of sugar, add a little olive oil if you want it to be crispier, the dough is ready when it is “white”
- Don’t cook with extra virgin olive oil (too strong) – use regular olive oil for cooking and save the extra virgin oil for drizzle
- Use balsamic to offset the sugar when you caramelize stuff (e.g. shrimp, onions)
- When melting sugar, add a touch of corn syrup to stop it from crystallizing
Don’t Miss The Duelling Chefs Entertainment On A Cruise Ship
The cooking demonstrations just whetted our appetite. We couldn’t wait for lunch. And we considered a gastronomic trip on the bigger Oceania ships. Those trips included a much more extensive set of cooking lessons. One of Oceania’s cooking cruises included Master Chef Jacques Pepin himself (Executive Culinary Director for Oceania Cruises).
With the rise of cooking shows, most people expected not only education but a high entertainment value. We certainly got this each time we put the duelling chefs entertainment on our cruise schedule!
Have you had the chance to experience a fun cooking demonstration? Did you learn any other good helpful cooking tips?
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