Cruising Carnival soon? During your planning and packing (read about my recommendations here), consider adding Chef’s Table to your planned events. IF you can get in. I’ve been trying to attend Chef’s Table for years and finally got the opportunity in February on Carnival Valor.
So what’s the big deal, anyway? Chef’s Table is a several hours long multicourse dining experience hosted by the Master Executive Chef himself (or herself) that is a MUST DO at least once in your cruise life. It’s less than $100 per person, includes free flowing wine (as in unlimited, seriously), more courses than you can count on two hands (a complete surprise as to what you’ll be eating and drinking), and a memorable night I wish I had experienced sooner. Only a select few are able to attend, since seating is under 14 and in a private room adjacent to the main dining room. You make reservations before you sail (as early as possible), you may or may not get a confirmation/invitation once you’re onboard, and you cannot select which night. Aside from not knowing when, or if, I would be able to go, and the insane amount of calories consumed in four hours, my experience with Chef’s Table was bliss!
During my Caribbean cruise in February on Carnival Valor, Chef’s Table started in the Atrium Bar with a glass of sparkling wine. Bubbles are always welcome! Myself and the other 13 attendees were given a behind the scenes tour of the galley kitchen by Master Executive Chef Rakesh Pavithran, where we enjoyed the first of many courses in cocktail hour fashion standing around a large stainless steel prep table. The hors d’oeuvres we enjoyed in the kitchen with sparkling wine were:
- Mango Sphere on Rosemary Biscuit
- Salmon Tartar Cornets with Sesame Seeds
- Beef Carpaccio on Air Pillow with Chocolate Bacon and Apple Ribbons
- Double Cooked Lamb and Tapioca
After we enjoyed our first four courses in the kitchen, we toured the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake station and were shocked by the mounds of chocolate, butter, eggs, and flour ready to be whipped up and served to guests. Chef Rakesh shared the verbal recipe with us, surprisingly more about the technique than the ingredient amounts (Warm Chocolate Melting Cake recipe, as I quickly wrote it down, will be shared and linked here soon).
Did I mention the free flowing wine? Back in our private and intimate dining room, we were all seated and our glasses promptly filled with Pinot Grigio and Merlot to be paired with the courses to follow.
In case anyone was still starving at this point, which was a physical impossibility, there were plenty of Roquefort and Gorgonzola rolls to hold us over during Chef’s informative presentation on his culinary journey from his education and experience to your table in the dining room.
The next several courses and several hours were a lovely visual and culinary experience as gorgeous plate after gorgeous plate came in and wowed all the guests in the room. The dinner courses we enjoyed in our private dining room with Pinot Grigio and Merlot were:
- Beef Blanket, Spiced Grape Tea
- Asparagus, Cauliflower, Honey Carrot Tian, Mache, Lemon Streusel
- Crab Stack
- Corn Custard, Polenta Cracker, Tangerine, Passion Caviar
- Duck Textures
- Creamy Quinoa, Parmesan Churros, Olive Snow, Port Wine Jus
- Bisque Our Way
- Two Tomatoes, Three Basil, Crisped Brioche, Garlic Chip
- Sea Bass
- Chorizo Crust, Fried Pop Corn Pudding, Lemon Macaroon, Lobster Foam
- Bone Marrow Souffle, Scallion & Garlic Panisse, Gremolata Crisp
And just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, out came the dessert (I died) from the Pastry Chef:
- Sea Salt Praline Chocolate
- Raspberry Mojito
- Key Lime Cake
- Apricot Vanilla Gel
- Citrus Cream
This wasn’t just dinner, this was an EVENT. None of the dishes served were on the menu in the dining room or steakhouse, so it was a special treat to experience Chef Rakesh’s creations prepared just for us. We all thanked him for a wonderful evening, and proceeded to our respective beds to go into food comas. Worth. Every. Calorie. (and every penny!)
Have you ever enjoyed Chef’s Table on Carnival or another cruise line? I’d love recommendations on Princess or Royal Caribbean!
Also, read about my First 24 Hours on a Cruise Ship: Do’s and Don’ts here.