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Oceania’s Still Cookin’ With Kathryn

It has been more than three years since we had the pleasure of meeting Kathryn Kelly. Pleasure, because she is a fascinating woman who doesn’t think she is. Pleasure, because she knows more about cooking than both of us combined…a piece of cake compared to one of us (male), a formidable chore compared to the family chef (female).

At the time, on board the Oceania Riviera where she was conducting classes at the ship’s Culinary Center, she told us that two years earlier she’d agree to this assignment for two months, maximum. She also told us about the most popular shore excursions she was conducting, taking passengers to a market to buy ingredients, to a restaurant to taste local cuisine and back to the ship for a cooking class.

Chef KellyTwo months became two years became five years…because these days the Center’s Executive Chef is still doing what she enjoys, in the bread-basket of cuisine.

Europe.

“On our new tours, guests spend time in the kitchen with local culinary experts and renowned chefs learning about regional ingredients and cooking customs that have influenced European cuisine for centuries," Kelly said in a statement. “Our goal is for guests to walk away with new culinary skills, satisfied taste buds, and a deeper appreciation for the vibrant culinary traditions found in Europe.”

The Culinary Discovery Tours are not in all ports, not on all Oceania ships (also the Marina), and not always with her as the host (i.e., the program is growing). For example, when the Riviera’s in Barcelona there is sometimes a Chef’s Gastronomy Tour and Tapas Lunch. In France, there’s an Aix-en-Provence Market Tour. Greece and Italy are also on the menu.

All have at least the touch of Chef Kelly.

“Guests love it,” she says. “They're on vacation. A lot of them are experienced travelers and they've been to some of these places four or five times, so for them it's 'show me something new.' They see the world through a culinary lens. They go to a market for local produce, a favorite place to eat, come back for cooking class. There's no corollary to that."

Nor is there for a Kathryn Kelly.

In the news…

• Royal Caribbean keeps Majesty of the Seas, which was headed to Pullmantur
• Oceania launches free shore excursion incentive for booking early
• Carnival Vista floats out at Monfalcone Shipyard to prep for May 1 arrival

Today at portsandbows.com: Silver Muse new flagship for Silversea

Carnival Glory
7 nights
September 19, 2015
Miami (return): Half Moon Cay, St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk
Inside: $409
Cost per day: $58
www.carnival.com

Sharpening Culinary Skills At Oceania

It’s more than two years since we experienced cooking at sea (and we lived to write about it) and, at the time, Oceania’s Director of Culinary Enrichment speculated what her upscale cruise line was doing would continue to grow.

Chef KellyKathryn Kelly also said that she believed in five years only Oceania would be teaching customers like this, because it was too expensive to create the Culinary Centers on the Riviera and the Marina.

What’s happened?

Two years ago, shore excursions under the title of Culinary Discovery Tours were conducted mostly in Europe. In a nutshell, you shopped at local markets, ate at local restaurants and cooked the ingredients you bought as part of a culinary class.

Today, while the tours are still mostly (15) in Europe, the concept has been expanded to Australia and New Zealand (2), South America (2) and, later this year, the Caribbean (3). Today, the tours have evolved so that you may wind up at a biodynamic farm in Tortola where organic produce was planted according to the lunar calendar…or cooking pizza in a Tuscan oven…or picking herbs to go with lunch on a New Zealand hillside.

It’s all about time in the kitchen, because that’s where you learn to cook. The kitchen could be on the shore excursions, or back in the ship’s Culinary Center. That’s where Chef Kelly — as she is widely known — will teach up to 24 people at a time how to…well, cook.

“Guests love it,” she said. “They’re on vacation. They learn to relax. When we’re at sea, there are two classes a day. In ports, we take guests to market. There are so many fabulous markets.”

Maybe the people at Norwegian Cruise Line love it, too. Oceania’s ships will soon be owned by Norwegian, and you know what they say about reaching somebody’s heart through the stomach…

Today at portsandbows.com: “3 for Free”  Princess promotion

Celebrity Constellation
11 nights
October 25, 2014
Istanbul, Ephesus, Haifa, Jerusalem, Valletta, Messina, Naples, Rome
Inside $599
Cost per day: $54
www.celebritycruises.com

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