It was worth the long drive from the Hollywood Hills to the Port of Los Angeles for a sneak preview of SHARE by Curtis Stone—a new alternative dining venue on the Ruby Princess–and other exciting innovations being implemented by the Santa Clarita, California-based cruise line. It was a gala media event with writers arriving from all over the country—even with bad snow conditions and blizzards they manage to get to the ship for the occasion that also brought out the top guns from Carnival Corp. which owns the cruise lines and Princess Cruises. Of course Curtis was also on hand to talk about his first shipboard restaurant.
The internationally recognized Australia-born chef currently stars as a mentor on Food Network’s All-Star Academy and is host of the Network’s brand-new show Beach Eats, which premiered August 12. He also operates the popular Beverly Hills restaurant Maude, which he opened 2014. The idea behind SHARE is just as it sounds, plates of food are served family-style for passengers to taste and pass on. Some of the offering are harder to part with but it’s part of the game so you keep the dishes moving around the table. There is a cost to dine there of $39 a person and a pretty extensive wine list from which to choose bottles that cost from 48 to $480 or glasses than range from $10 to $14.
Our media lunch consisted of a charcuterie platter of salami, chicken liver parfait and house pickles followed by pickled pearl onions, shrimp salad, something called Cavatelli that came with beets, Brussel sprout and other ingredients and an Alaskan King Crab tagliatelle. Main courses were a roast turbot white fish with gruyere crumbs and mushrooms that was my favorite; a wild mushroom ragu with cauliflower and pine nuts and hint of bitter greens which I also liked, beef cheek pie and twice cooked duck. There were also various sides of leeks, kale and potato gratin. Although desserts were listed on the menu we were whisked away to Vines Wine Bar to enjoy a ‘chocolate journey’ by world famous chocolatier Chef Norman Love.
During various speeches at the event we learned that “this exclusive partnership with Chef Stone adds to the line’s “come back new” brand promise, designed to elevate the onboard guest experience by introducing new culinary offerings dedicated to fresh, flavorful cuisine aboard all ships.” As part of the partnership, “Crafted by Curtis” menu items offered in the main dining rooms will debut aboard Golden Princess in the fall and roll out fleet-wide through the end of 2015. Curtis Stone’s Chef’s Table experience will debut in early 2016.
SHARE, which replaced Sabatini’s on the Ruby Princess occupies a gorgeously decorated space on Deck 16 aft. The signature feature is a long communal table at which passengers sink their teeth into a freshly prepared meal in the company of friends and family. Hand blown glass pendants etched with some of Chef Stone’s favorite recipes cast an intimate glow and create a warm and celebratory experience. Elements not often seen in cruise ship restaurant interiors add to the friendly atmosphere – low-backed banquettes, beautifully upholstered in luxe Chesterfield tufted leather and decorative curios from Chef Stone’s own collection including photographs and travel souvenirs make guests feel even more at home.
“We’re honored that Princess Cruises is the home of Curtis Stone’s first restaurant at sea,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises President who addressed the media on arrival at the ship in the Ruby’s gorgeous lobby/atrium. “We know our guests will enjoy the menu Chef Stone has created for SHARE and we’re sure they will also feel right at home dining in his new restaurant, just like we hope they always feel on a Princess cruise vacation. SHARE is an exciting new enhancement adding to our guest experience intended to fulfill our ‘come back new’ brand promise.”
Chef Stone also added a little spice to the occasion telling the the group that, “It’s only natural that my first restaurant at sea is named SHARE, as sharing food family-style with family and good friends is the most enjoyable way to eat,” said Chef Stone. “I love the process of passing plates amongst each other and creating meaningful connections through the food and conversation. I’ve worked feverishly to create elegant, tasty dishes that I’m really proud to serve in a beautiful and relaxed environment, and I’m excited that SHARE is set to become a special part of people’s holiday memories and experience at sea.”
One of the true gems of Princess’ 18-ship fleet, Ruby Princess sails from Los Angeles on cruises to Hawaii and Mexico. SHARE will take a space on the Emerald Princess during her sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean this December with the rollout continuing aboard Coral Princess cruising the Panama Canal in January 2016 and then Sun Princess in April 2016, which will bring Chef Stone’s restaurant to his home country, Australia.
Come back for more about Princess Cruises new Luxury Bed and Salty Dog Gastropub with Chef Ernesto Uchimura.