When Celebrity Cruises introduces the Apex, there will be some new experiences on the culinary side, according to Cornelius Gallagher, vice president of food and beverage operations.
In an exclusive interview with Cruise Industry News, Gallagher said: “The biggest change for me is that we have completely changed the concept of the Eden Restaurant. On the Edge, we have a five- to six-course tasting menu for a two-hour experience, blended with entertainment, which we have turned on its head and elevated it. On the Apex, the Eden will be à la carte. Guests can come and have an appetizer, entrée and dessert and leave. It will be more of a typical restaurant and the food will be less about aesthetics and more about flavors.
“Normally, I rely on my team,” Gallagher continued, “our venues and menus are a collaborative effort, but in this case, I wrote the menu personally. I really wanted to put my thumbprint on it, expressing all that I have learned from the world’s greatest chefs and from all the places I have been.
“We are using top ingredients and manipulating them as little as possible.”
Focusing on ingredient-based cooking in the Eden, Gallagher said that sourcing is vital. “Much of the time, you need to get that one product from that one farmer who is a real artisan in how he grows it. My experience is that specific sourcing like that comes down to forming relationships with local farmers and local purveyors. We do a lot of that ourselves, working with our procurement team.
“When we created the Edge class, it was years in the making,” Gallagher added. “We wanted restaurant and bar concepts and venues to be born from three different categories: tradition, evolution and revolution.
“Blu for Aqua-class guests and Lumina for Retreat-class guests represented tradition. We wanted the new ship to have a thread of familiarity, so we kept some traditions, but enhanced them.
“An example of evolution would be our main dining room. We evolved from one large dining room to four restaurants, including the Tuscan Restaurant, which is based on the Tuscan Grille we have elsewhere in our fleet, where it is a blend of Italian and a steakhouse. On the Edge, however, we separated the two. The Tuscan Restaurant features Italian cuisine and Fine Cut USDA prime dry-aged steaks.
“The revolution would be Eden, something that never existed before. We created it, and when people go there, they experience something truly new and unique.”
Altogether the Edge class has 29 distinct restaurants, food venues and bar concepts. All created through one “lens,” Gallagher said. “They had to offer quality. That was our North Star.
“All great restaurant and bar experiences start with quality and that starts with the look and feel of venues and that is not just the color palette or the selection of chairs and tables, but also the music, the lighting, the uniforms, and the menus, even the fonts used – all the sensory touch points communicate.
“And, of course, the food and the quality of the food, but most important are the people. In any great restaurant you have to have great people. I like people to have what I call the hospitality gene; that is just generally being a nice person. As a guest I would prefer to be waited upon by someone who is genuinely nice but maybe not an expert versus somebody who is an expert but not genuinely nice.
“The biggest challenge for restaurants and hotels on land these days is to find top talent, and we have top talent at Celebrity, that is our strong asset.”
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