Chef’s Table, A Carnival Cruise Special

We have just returned from our first cruise.  I have been excited for months about doing this.  We have heard from so many people how much fun cruises are and how much there is to do while on a cruise.  I just couldn’t wait!!!  Hubby, however, had some reservations about the whole thing.  He’s not much of a gambler so he knew he wouldn’t enjoy the casino and he was just leery about how he would occupy his time on the days that we were at sea.  So I made it my mission to ensure that he had fun and that he had things to occupy his time.

One of the things that hubby and I really enjoy as a couple are wine dinners at local restaurants.  Well, turns out Carnival offers a similar experience on their cruise ships.  It is called the “Chef’s Table” and consists of seven courses along with a couple of wines.

Chef's Table 3

The evening started with our confirmation for the dinner reservation being slipped under the door of our stateroom.  This confirmation included a recommendation that you avoid wearing high heels.  This wasn’t an issue for hubby, but I had to change my whole wardrobe for the evening.  😉

There was a group of eight people attending the dinner.  We all gathered in the lobby and after a brief introduction to “Chef De Cuisine Santosh Kumar,” we headed to the galley.  (No pictures allowed in the galley.) Hors d’oeuvres  were served with champagne while we listened to the Chef tell us about the ship, the numerous kitchens and the various chefs required to pull off feeding 2,600 people for dinner.  (They actually have a person whose main job is to crack 1,000 eggs each night!)  From the galley tour, we met with one of the pastry chefs so we could learn the secret to making Carnival’s most popular dessert, Chocolate Melting Cake.  Just so happened he needed a couple of volunteers to help mix everything together for the cake and I was lucky enough, along with Suzanne – another lady attending the dinner – to be one of those volunteers.  Fitted with our very own chef’s hat, we stepped behind the prep table and promptly went to work.  Once the cake was in the oven, our tour was over.

Chef's hatWe moved as a group back through the dining room to the private room they had set up for our dinner.  There were only eight of us but we had two servers and three chefs, including Chef Santosh and were treated like royalty the rest of the evening.  Our first course was simply tomatoes – but there was nothing simple about these tomatoes!  We had aerated tomato juice (and you thought the only thing people aerated was wine!) which was thick and served on the plate to be eaten with a fork, cocoa butter coated tomatoes and Chardonnay poached tomatoes.  None of these tasted anything like the tomatoes that come from my garden and were all so delicious.  (If anyone reading this has a recipe you want to share with us, I would be glad to post it.  Would love to learn how to prepare the cocoa butter coated tomatoes!)

2013-01-14 01.51.05

The menu consisted of tuna, Cornish hen, bavarois (spinach, green peas, warm turnip and apple juice), salmon, short ribs, and a dessert called “Chocolate 88F” as well as the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake that Suzanne and a I helped make.  Each of these was served as a separate course and paired with a Merlot and a Pinot Grigio.



The tuna was coated with lemon bread crumbs and served with sesame crisp and miso cream avocado gel – great pairing of foods and really good.

The Cornish hen was caramelized and served with butternut squash and was delicious.

The salmon was quite good especially since I (typically) don’t eat fish.  It was served with an herb pesto to dip it in that was heavenly, cured tomatoes and condensed beets.  I will taste any food served at a special event just to say I did, but let’s be clear on this one, after a really bad experience as a child and being forced by a teacher to eat beets, I don’t eat them now.  However, I decided to taste these.  they actually looked like fruit roll-ups so I popped one into my mouth.  But only one – and it is probably the last time I will ever try beets!  Everyone else seemed to like them which indicates it was just me.

The short ribs were from Wagyu, an aged Kobe beef and were served with potato pebbles and pumpkin fudge (probably one of my least favorite items on the menu after the beets – definitely doesn’t taste like it sounds!).

Overall the dinner was great and the evening was fun.  The cost for the Chef’s Table is $75 per person – about what you would pay at any restaurant for a good wine dinner.  Unfortunately we were not offered the option of purchasing any of the wines to bring home, but it was a fun experience with some great people (who shared these pictures with me) and new friends.

New Friends

New Friends


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brandy
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 15:51:03

    That looks great! Check this out, the evolution of the sailing chef throughout time: Looks like we were born in the right time!


  2. Reader
    Apr 03, 2013 @ 22:22:35

    Do you recall what the wines with the meal were specifically?


    • Red Wine Diva
      Apr 04, 2013 @ 06:21:01

      Unfortunately I don’t. I know the red was a Merlot and the white was a Sauvignon Blanc but I did not write the names down. These wines were not available for purchase on the ship anywhere, though, or I would have bought some for later. They were really good.


  3. Melissa
    Jun 03, 2013 @ 14:37:46

    Is is true that you get unlimited champagne and wine? Trying to “sell” my husband on the idea for our cruise in July. Thanks for all the great details!


    • Red Wine Diva
      Jun 03, 2013 @ 14:47:55

      There are special events where they give you champagne, but that is the only time it is free. The only thing you have to pay for is the alcohol. However, if you leave the ship at one of the ports, chances are you will be able to spend the day at an all-inclusive resort where alcohol is included – but you will have to pay a fee on the ship to go on the excursion.


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