Costa’s Michelin-Star Experience

Introducing the new Archipelago restaurant, Roberto Bonomini, corporate food and beverage director for Costa Cruises, told Cruise Industry News the new concept is part of a brand transformation of the cruise line.

“We are offering a Michelin-star level experience that is also sustainable,” he said. “(On any give cruise) our guests can choose from three menus from three different Michelin-starred chefs.

“Hélène Darroze, Bruno Barbieri and Ángel León have each created five different menus, reflecting the itineraries and regions we are sailing in: the Western Mediterranean, Eastern Mediterranean, Caribbean, Emirates and Northern Europe.

“This is not your usual collaboration with celebrity chefs for signature dishes. This is not fake. These chefs have worked closely with us, they have been on our ships.

“The Archipelago has a dedicated galley staff of six, and there is a 10-person staff in the restaurant plus sommeliers.

“Usually when you go to a Michelin-star restaurant, there is one chef, one cuisine. Here, we have three. We have choices for everyone – a traditional menu, super innovative and one that mixes both.”

Among the menu examples given, in the Western Mediterranean, Chef León offers plankton puffed bread, sea urchins, squid ravioli and creamy cuttlefish rice with hydrated plankton and puffed rice.

“León is considered the chef of the sea,” said Bonmini. “When you eat fish he has prepared, you are not eating fish, you are eating the sea. He is able to create very particular flavors.

“Creating this restaurant was a significant project,” he continued. “The chefs were chosen based on their sustainability and creativity records. We visited with them in their restaurants, and they came aboard the ships to see our facilities, equipment and how we work. Then, they came back aboard again to work on the actual dishes in their menus.”

Three menus with five courses each are offered every night in the Archipelago, which can seat up to 70 guests.

First introduced on the Costa Smeralda, the Archipelago was installed on the Luminosa before year’s end and will be aboard the Toscana by spring. Plans call for a further roll out.

“The chefs’ menus have been created with great care in selecting raw materials, mainly from local sources, and with the aim of avoiding waste,” Bonmini added.

Even the furnishings in the Archipelago have an element of sustainability with driftwood recovered by the “Guardians of the Coast,” an environmental educational program sponsored by the Costa Cruises Foundation. Costa will donate 5 euros to the foundation for every dinner served in the restaurant.

Such a gourmet restaurant is important for the brand positioning, according to Bonmini, and it helps generate bookings while also being financially sustainable.

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Winter 2021-2022 

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