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Sushi making with Celebrity Cruises

October 5, 2013

(Published in TTG 03.07.13)

Matthew Parsons joins tops chefs and Celebrity Cruises at the Taste of London Festival

Top chefs from Celebrity Cruises rubbed shoulders with the likes of Raymond Blanc and Michel Roux Jr last weekend, as the line showcased its restaurants, and dishes, at the Taste of London festival last week.

I was invited to take part in its sushi demonstration, with corporate executive chef Rufino Rengifo first running us through his sushi lollipops.

Sushi on a stick? Rengifo explained that he believes in creating meals that involve “dimensions” – in this case a dish that soars upwards.

My stand-out flavour was salmon encrusted in Doritos, topped with a cucumber gel. “It sounds a little funky, a little out there, but that’s the intention of it,” the chef told me. “The saltiness and the crunchiness will give you the texture, then the cucumber will give you a refreshing flavour”.

Celebrity also used the food festival to promote its “immersive wine cruises” this autumn, onboard Celebrity Infinity. Voyages will take in France, Spain and Portugal, with Oz Clarke appearing on the October 12 sailing.

Rengifo later outlined the thinking behind Celebrity’s Qsine restaurant, which he claimed was the first to offer a menu entirely on an iPad.

Guests can pick from a menu, or for a bit more fun, tap on a series of pictures on the iPad with animations bringing the food to life.

Clicking on “Taco Royale” we were treated to an animated video of a taco visiting England: “We’ve elevated it – we’ve brought it to the UK. We use Black Angus sirloin steak.”

In a Qsine restaurant, guests would then have the chance to make their own guacamole, with a “culinary guide” on hand to help. Educational too, then, but all designed around the line’s motto of “uniquely unordinary”.

But the highlight of the festival (for me), was Celebrity’s woman in white wearing a “strawberry fields” dress – a garment made from grass, with strawberries covered in chocolate (again, on sticks) protruding from it.

That’s one way to get people’s attention, and after four days exhibiting – in front of 50,000 attendees – Michael English, head of sales at Celebrity Cruises, said one agent who had been there has already booked a cruise after seeing the “brand come to life” at the show. “Considerable leads” were also generated.

It’s food for thought for any other travel companies thinking of taking a stand at gastronomical festivals.

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