LINE: CHEF AT SEA
& COOKING ARTICLE
chef James Martin has taken on a new challenge - three
years as head chef of The Bistro on P&O Cruises' new
ship, Ocean Village.
dining in The Bistro on Ocean Village this summer may
well come face to face with TV chef James Martin, who,
working around his filming commitments for the BBC, has
taken the position of head chef of the restaurant for
the next three years. And it won't just be the occasional,
celebrity-style appearance; Martin has planned and designed
the menus and will be doing a spell in the kitchen at
least twice a month.
Martin, 28, has shot to fame during the last five years
with his appearances on the popular show 'Ready, Steady,
Cook' and Channel Four's 'Why Weight?'. He has filmed
four series of his own for Carlton Food Network's Taste
channel: 'For Better For Worse', 'Simply Fish', 'Entertaining
with James' and most recently a 50-part show, 'Food For
Lovers'. He is also co-presenter on 'Use Your Loaf' with
Paul Hollywood and 'Master & Servant' with Antony Worrall
Thompson, who in fact gave him his first job as a college-leaver.
He has just finished presenting a 24-part daily cookery
show, 'Kitchen Invaders', for BBC 1 and is currently the
resident chef on BBC 1's live, daily hour-long show, 'Housecall'.
Martin clearly has cooking in his blood; his father, for
a start, was the resident chef at Yorkshire's Castle Howard.
"I started cooking when I was four years old and I cooked
for the Queen Mother when I was twelve," he says. "I came
down to London after college in Scarborough and worked
for Antony Worrall Thompson. I got spotted for TV about
five years ago and never looked back. It's been crazy,
a roller-coaster ride."
offer to work as head chef of The Bistro on Ocean Village
came after Martin had taken the plunge and finally taken
a cruise with his mother on P&O's Oriana. "I had been
invited several times to do demonstrations on cruise ships
but had resisted because I'd been told you didn't get
any time to yourself," he says. "But Oriana was fantastic.
I did some demos and got a huge response. Shortly afterwards,
I was approached to work on the new ship."
take a job at sea? "I thought it was time to get back
into cooking. I'm a better chef now than I was. When
you're in the kitchen, you tend to get very blinkered
to what's going on outside but I've been working on
all sorts of projects and travelling for some time now,
and I thought this would be ideal. It's a huge undertaking
and I'm on board for three years."
So does cooking on a cruise ship differ from cooking
in a restaurant? "For a start, you might be 3,000 miles
away from base," says Martin. "The whole logistic of
buying food is different. In a restaurant here, you
order supplies at 11pm and it's with you the following
morning. On a ship, you order three or four weeks in
advance and you plan for months ahead. We've been costing,
testing and re-testing. There are eight or nine thousand
covers a day overall, after all. In the Bistro, there
will be about one hundred and eighty covers a night.
"It is different on a ship. The hygiene in the galley
is far, far greater than on land. Restaurant kitchens
are immaculate, of course, but cruise ships are severely
immaculate. The hygiene of the chefs is incredibly strict.
And the kitchen's a lot bigger. The maximum number of
staff you'd have in a restaurant might be about twenty,
more like seven or eight, but on a ship you might have
up to one hundred. It can be hard to organise a kitchen
when you can only see one tenth of it! But the camaraderie
There is hardly anything, Martin says, that can't be
prepared in a ship's galley. "More, in fact. We make
all our own bread on board, for example. Ice cream is
a bit of a problem because you have to use raw eggs
and we have to meet American standards as well as British
ones." And is the motion of the ship a problem? "We've
been doing lots of testing in the Bay of Biscay when
it's really rough," says Martin. "The chefs were dropping
like flies. I was OK, though. You all get used to it."
Martin describes his style as 'Modern British with a
hint of Mediterranean', which is essentially what diners
in the Bistro will be enjoying this summer. "There will
be risotto, and ham from Spain and Italy, and cheese
from Spain," he explains. "The type of people we will
be serving will be well travelled. They'll know about
food. You've got to have a balance, something that will
suit everybody." Guests will be treated to such delicacies
as prosciutto-wrapped, three cheese-stuffed chicken
breast with wilted spinach and roast tomatoes, followed
by white chocolate and whisky croissant butter pudding.
So what is Martin most looking forward to in his first
job at sea? "The Caribbean next winter, of course,"
he says. "Any chef would be daft not to be. I love all
the places we' re going - they're great for foodies.
But I like the whole idea of Ocean Village. It suits
me, the informality, the fact that people won't have
to book for dinner or eat with the same crowd every
night. It all adds up to a good package."
CHOCOLATE WHISKY AND CROISSANT BUTTER PUDDING
be made well, James Martin's signature dish needs a
good quality white chocolate containing at least 40%
cocoa solids, good Scotch whisky and a combination of
eggs and egg yolks. The reason whole eggs are combined
with egg yolks is that although the whites make the
mixture tough, they're actually needed to make it set.
The extra yolks make the mixture more smooth and creamy.
Please note that over-cooking the dish can make the
500ml (18 floz) double cream
1 vanilla pod
3 whole eggs
5 egg yolks
200g (7oz) caster sugar
3 large croissants
25g (1oz) sultanas
25g (1oz) butter, melted
175g (6oz) good quality white chocolate, grated
3 tablespoons whisky
55g (2oz) apricot jam, slightly melted
the oven to 200ºC (400ºF) Gas Mark 6. Pour the milk
and cream into a pan, add the vanilla pod, and gradually
bring to the boil.
the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl and
the cream is heating, slice the croissants and place
in an ovenproof dish, slightly overlapping the pieces.
Sprinkle with sultanas and pour over the butter.
the cream has boiled, take it off the heat. Add the
egg mixture and chocolate and stir well. Set on one
side to allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally.
the whisky to the cream mixture. Next, using a sieve,
strain the cream over the croissants, cover with foil
and bake in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until
from the oven, coat the top with the jam and dust
with icing sugar. Caramelize the topping using a very
hot grill or, if you have one, a blow torch. This
is best served at room temperature, with a spoonful
of good ice-cream.
feature originally appeared in the Summer 2003 issue
of Cruise Traveller.
Bryant has been a freelance writer, editor and broadcaster
specialising in travel for over ten years. Before launching
Cruise Traveller, she edited consumer and business-to-business
magazines including What Cruise, Hilton Guest, The Great
Business Travel Guide and World of Travel. She currently
acts as editorial consultant to American Express Business
Travel's Focus magazine and ABTA Magazine's annual golf
has also contributed to The Times, The Independent,
The Independent on Sunday, Financial Mail on Sunday,
The Daily Telegraph, Business Traveller, Junior, Voyager,
Ski & Board, RCI Holiday and Virgin.net. She has
written six travel guidebooks and appears regularly
on The Travel Channel's Travel On . . . programme.
In 1999 she was shortlisted by the Periodical Publishers'
Association as 'Business Writer of the Year' for her
contributions to Business Traveller.
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