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  • Megan Leppert

From Under the Toque: Holland America Line Announces BLEND by Chateau Ste. Michelle on Koningsdam

Updated: Sep 16, 2022

Holland America Line, which has been a signature of excellence in the cruise industry for many years, has taken that one step further by creating new culinary and beverage experiences for their guests onboard the new Koningsdam arriving in April 2016.

At the BLEND Culinary Council Event in Woodinville, WA at Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, President of Holland America Line, Orlando Ashford, and President of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Ted Baseler, announced a new innovative and interactive guest experience called BLEND by Chateau Ste. Michelle (rendered in the header above) on the Koningsdam. This experience will give wine enthusiasts a chance to create their own red wine blend as well as learn more about the history of Washington wines, the wine making process, and see how the soil, climate, and terrain (also known as terroir) of different vineyard sites impact the flavor profiles of the wine.

Guests will sample five wines, featuring varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot from the winery’s Cold Creek and Canoe Ridge Estate vineyards. From there, the guests will be able to blend their own wine based on the flavors and characteristics that they enjoyed from each one. Guest will have a chance to customize their label to add that unique personal touch to their wine that they will be enjoying later on in their staterooms or in one of the many restaurants onboard. Reservations are required for this unique experience as the tasting table can only hold 10 guests.

Chef Elizabeth Falkner Blends Wine (Copyright © Megan Leppert)

We were lucky enough to have the chance to participate in our own BLEND tasting at Chateau Ste. Michelle on Monday afternoon with the esteemed chefs of Holland American Line’s Culinary Council. It was such a fun interactive experience to share with the chefs and hear them evaluate the wines with their well-developed palates. Chef Elizabeth Falkner was at our table with us, and we made a delicious blend using the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the Canoe Ridge Estates, as well as the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Cold Creek Estates.

After the BLEND tasting, we all enjoyed a deliciously prepared lunch that featured signature dishes from all six of the renowned Culinary Council members: Rudi Sodamin, Jonnie Boer, Elizabeth Falkner, Mark Best, David Burke and Jacques Torres.

Holland America Line’s Culinary Council (Copyright © Megan Leppert)

I loved seeing such creative food pairings like the amuse dish which featured Jonnie Boer’s shrimp with quinoa and butternut squash, Elizabeth Falkner’s seared scallop with bacon and Mark Best’s cocoa powder dusted doughnuts with chicken liver pate.

Chef Rudi Sodamin’s tomato salad bouquet with pomegranate and toasted grains was a complex salad that was the perfect lead in to Chef Burke’s entrée.

Chef David Burke’s gorgeously plated spice crusted prime rib worcestobaketch has to be one of the best prime rib dishes that I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy.

Chef Jacques Torres’ molten chocolate cake with raspberries was the perfect decadent and indulgent ending to a very lovely lunch and afternoon.

Guests onboard all of Holland America Line’s 15 cruise ships will be able to taste these chef’s culinary creations in all dining venues. With the Council’s culinary knowledge and expertise, they will enhance the line’s already industry-leading dining experiences from the Lido Restaurant to Pinnacle Grill. The Culinary Council will not only have their hands in the menus for the dining venues, but they will also help consult on the line’s Culinary Arts Center enrichment programs to bring the best culinary learning experiences to the guests.

I got the opportunity to sit at the same table as the very funny and witty Chef Jacques Torres, which was a wonderful experience to hear such fun and interesting industry stories from a true legend in our field. We also shared some laughs, especially when Chef Torres suggested to Holland America Line’s President, Orlando Ashford, that the Koningsdam’s sister ship that will be arriving in 2018, should be named the Chocodam, where guests would be able to see the process of chocolate making from the cacao bean to the finished product. He also suggested that he could move his offices onboard; what else would you expect from Mr. Chocolate?

As a chef who has looked up to all of these individuals for years as leaders and innovators in the culinary industry, it was such an enriching experience to get the opportunity to meet and speak with this immensely talented group of chefs and artists.  Holland America Line has definitely set the bar very high with this exceptional lineup of chefs, and I truly look forward to seeing what this Council has in store.

For more information about the Koningsdam, visit Holland America Line‘s website here.




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