Dining in style on board Celebrity Eclipse

Dining in style on board the Celebrity Eclipse

by Great British Chefs 15 May 2015

We were delighted to partner with Celebrity Cruises to bring Michelin-starred chefs Adam Simmonds and Robert Thompson together to create two stunning seasonal menus for a very special two-night 'Taste of Luxury' cruise from Southampton to Paris.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

What better way to launch the newly refurbished Celebrity Eclipse's first sailing from the UK than with amazing menus and cooking demonstrations from Adam Simmonds and Robert Thompson.

Adam (the winner of Great British Menu 2014) and Robert, one of the youngest chefs in the UK to receive a Michelin star (and holder of the Isle of Wight's only Michelin star), brought their energy, skills and creativity to Celebrity Eclipse so hundreds of guests could experience the best of the UK's food while sailing to France. Normally used to running award-winning restaurants in London, the South East and the Isle of Wight, the chefs welcomed the challenge of working hard with the staff on board the ship's galley. With the help of a little extra specialist equipment (such as sous vide water baths) both Adam and Robert quickly adapted to the busy kitchen and put themselves to the task of ensuring their intricate dishes moved smoothly from conception to plate.

‘One of the most interesting dishes for me was the Langoustine tails; a fairly complicated dish not just because of the flavour but because we had to prepare so many on board the ship,’ says Robert. ‘The dish was well received along with the other courses we put together, and I would like to say a big thank you to Simon Ulph (who will be joining me at Thompson’s in the kitchens) for helping me out on board.’ The Langoustine tails were a triumph and made a stunning opening to the chefs' menus at Murano, the first of the specialist restaurants they cooked at on board the Celebrity Eclipse.

Langoustine tails
The langoustine tails were particularly tricky to prepare on board a cruise ship
Banana dessert
The caramelised banana dessert was another highlight of the meal

On the menu

The savoury brûlée had a sweet edge thanks to the delicious tomatoes that Robert brought over from the Isle of Wight. Robert tries to source as much produce from the island as possible including poultry, dairy, cheese and the famous heritage tomatoes grown in the Arreton valley. The island's size does create limitations, but that's why his strong relationships with mainland British suppliers are just as important.

Next we moved on to Adam's sea trout, which was another burst of beautifully plated colour for the tables. His brill course was equally perfect, with a slightly sweet touch from a crisp cracker adding a flavourful crunch to the dish. Adam also puts a strong emphasis on respect for ingredients – as his career has developed, we've seen a gentle complexity shine through in every dish. The final result is simple is although the preparation is somewhat complex. He ensures that each element on the plate is very well taken care of and the natural flavours are enhanced and allowed to sing.

For the mains we were treated to Robert's opulent dish of venison and oysters. The venison was sourced from second generation deer park owner Seb Peterson of Chart Farm in Sevenoaks, Kent. As Robert moves toward the opening of his own restaurant (Thompson's) on the Isle of Wight this summer, he will be calling on all his favourite farmers from around the UK to bring the best of British ingredients into the kitchen of his much anticipated venture.

Our dinner at Murano closed with two spectacular desserts. Adam refreshed our palate with a light strawberry sorbet transformed with fresh eucalyptus and olive. Sweet and refreshing, it was extremely well balanced, whilst remaining provocative and interesting. Just to illustrate the diversity of each element, there were four textures of strawberry (sorbet, dried, fresh, jelly). The flavour of olive came through in the form of dehydrated black olives and an olive oil pate, while the texture was contrasted with a parfait and eucalyptus cream.

The light sorbet prepared us for Robert's dessert, another great study in textures and flavours. Think of a plate of luxury Aero served with an expertly caramelised banana. The whole dessert was lightened by a crème fraiche sorbet and touches of smooth dulce de leche. Both Adam and Robert spent time with guests after the fantastic meal to answer any questions and explain some of the inspiration behind the dishes.

Adam Simmonds
Adam shared his recipe for parfait and strawberry sorbet
Robert Thompson
Robert Thompson showed passengers how to make his delicious egg yolk ravioli

School at sea

After a well deserved rest, the chefs were up bright and early the following morning treating guests to masterclasses and demos in Eclipse's comfortable theatre. Hosted by John Suley, Celebrity Cruises' director of culinary operations, the first masterclass was in filleting fish by Adam. Then along with his pastry chef Jamie Warley we learnt how to make Adam's strawberry sorbet and parfait from the previous night.

After lunch, Robert captivated the audience with a demo of how to make a delicate egg yolk ravioli. This was served with duck and truffle wontons with soy and truffle sauce which some lucky guests (who correctly answered questions about Robert's background) were able to taste.

For our last night and while sailing back to the UK from Le Havre, Robert and Adam were busy in the kitchen of Tuscan Grille, another of Celebrity Eclipse's specialist restaurants. The four-course menu was expertly matched with wines from Celebrity Cruises' extensive cellars. From a Louis Jadot Pouilly Fussie from Burgundy for the quail starter right through to the Fonseca vintage Port for the dark chocolate delice, Celebrity Cruises' sommeliers got the pairing of dishes and wine just right and allowed us to keep our sea legs too!

A particular highlight of the menu at the Tuscan Grille was Adam's Wiltshire lamb belly, loin and sweetbreads, garnished with fresh goat curd, which was made only hours before service. Once again the complexity behind this led to a dish bursting with flavour. The curd was made in a sous vide water bath with vegetarian rennet to create the perfect texture.

Guests and staff at Celebrity Cruises loved Adam and Robert's dishes and demos so much that they will be back on board this summer. On 30 August 2015, Adam and Robert will sail on Celebrity Eclipse’s fourteen-night Mediterranean roundtrip from Southampton, which will call at Gibraltar, Rome, Nice, Genoa, Florence, Malaga and Lisbon, Portugal.