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Jet Set Sail: cooking on cruise control

Jet Set Sail: cooking on cruise control

by Great British Chefs Friday, March 11, 2016

A luxury Mediterranean cruise with a gastronomic twist? Sounds like heaven for a foodie, combining sun, sea and first-class fare from Michelin-starred chefs Josh Eggleton and Gennaro Esposito, who will be hoping their sea-legs are up to the challenge.

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The life of a chef is a constant juggling act of time and space; gas flames, boiling pots and sharp knives; calling ‘Service!’ at a crowded pass while a well-oiled kitchen team expertly balance sauces and garnishes for hungry diners awaiting the next course. So imagine transporting that to a moving ship, out at sea with unfamiliar equipment, staff and limited access to resources? Great British Chef Josh Eggleton is attempting to do just that with the 2016 Jet Set Sail for Celebrity Cruises, bringing his skill and culinary flair to the floating kitchen of the Equinox, a luxury cruiseliner taking guests on a seven-day Mediterranean tour.

Although Josh’s career has spanned Michelin-starred kitchens across Europe and America, his own gastropub, The Pony and Trap in Chew Magna, Bristol (which he runs with his sister, Holly), is very much where he calls home. The pub has held a Michelin star since 2011, and helped the chef hone his talent for ‘field to fork’ cooking, championing the freshest local produce and suppliers – something he’ll be mostly cut off from while at sea. Josh admits, ‘we do restrict ourselves to using British produce at The Pony and Trap as it’s better for the environment, but I love Mediterranean produce and I'm looking forward to using it while on board.’

Josh is being fairly ambitious with his plans for guests on the cruise, running a host of gastronomic events while the Equinox sails from Barcelona to Athens, stopping in Provence, Genoa, Rome and Crete along the way. Taking over one of the ship’s speciality restaurants, Murano, to serve up a six-course tasting menu will be one challenge, and Josh is most worried about the set up: ‘Working in a confined space, in a small kitchen… and hopefully no sea sickness!’

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The six-course tasting menu will be served in the Murano restaurant
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Josh is also hoping to serve up a high tea on the lawn
I have two chefs joining me from The Pony and Trap; the head pastry chef Jordan Meagher and our development chef, Matt Holgate, who has worked with me for almost five years and works on a lot of dish development with me.

Josh Eggleton

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The view from La Torre del Saracino
My final departure checklist involves plenty of preparation at home so that everything will be perfect while I'm away, and perhaps buying a selection of sunbathing shorts – just in case!

Josh Eggleton

An unfamiliar kitchen, team and equipment will make cooking dishes such as poached oyster with cucumber, or Dover sole with seaweed butter, much more risky than normal, but to battle this Josh is bringing along some help: ‘I have two chefs joining me from The Pony and Trap; the head pastry chef Jordan Meagher and our development chef, Matt Holgate, who has worked with me for almost five years and works on a lot of dish development with me.’ He’ll also be hosting more intimate masterclasses, such as a game-focused ‘Catch the pigeon’ course, which will be reliant on keeping produce fresh and having enough on board to account for demonstrations, preparation and serving. The pigeon itself is causing the most anxiety: ‘I'm still waiting to hear back if I can get it on the ship!’

Logistics and challenges aside, the cruise itself provides Josh with a fantastic opportunity to share his knowledge and passion with dedicated foodies outside of a normal kitchen environment. Being able to visit different locations opens up a world of culinary inspiration for both the chef and holidaymakers alike, especially since the trip is kicked off with an excursion to the two Michelin star restaurant of Great Italian Chef, Gennaro Esposito. Overlooking the stunning Amalfi Coast near Salerno, La Torre del Saracino is a bastion of exquisite cooking and epic sea views. Enjoying exceptional food and wine both on-board and off is the perfect way to spark an interest in regional culinary traditions, whether it being how to pluck a pigeon or experiencing the freshest of Mediterranean seafood.

Like most of the guests on board, Josh’s final departure checklist involves ‘plenty of preparation at home so that everything will be perfect while I'm away, and perhaps buying a selection of sunbathing shorts… just in case!’

For more information or to book your place with Great British Chefs and Celebrity Cruises, visit Jet Set Sail. Departing Stansted Airport on 2 July 2016, the cruise includes private flights to Barcelona where the Equinox sets sail, docking in Athens before returns to Stansted.

Twitter Q&A

We caught up with Josh Eggleton for a Twitter Q & A about preparing for Jet Set Sail. Here's our top five questions & answers:

What was your source of inspiration for the menu?

The season in the Mediterranean mostly! There's going to be some great fresh produce.

Which location's food are you most looking forward to tasting?

I'm looking forward to seeing Rome because I met a lovely Italian chef in Istanbul at the weekend (Cristina Bowerman) who owns a couple of places there!

Will you be serving up your delicious fish and chips at sea?

Not this time but there is plenty of fish on the menu. I'm looking forward to sea bream, it's fantastic in the locations on our trip.

How are you handling wine pairing for your menu?

I'm working closely with Celebrity Cruise's sommeliers. They have the largest wine cellar at sea to choose from.

Where's the strangest place you've cooked a meal?

In a warehouse in the outskirts of Moscow with no cooking equipment. Don't ask!

 
 
 

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