Jamie Oliver has changed the eating habits of the nation and proved that you don’t have to shout and swear to be a success in the kitchen. He took jobless youngsters off the streets to work in his pioneering 15 Restaurant, and he took on the Ministry of Education and stubborn turkey-twizzling mums to shake up school dinners.
Now he is about to take his successful Jamie’s Italian concept to sea for the first time, on Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas.
His is one of 18 themed restaurants on each ship which – in another bold move – will abandon the concept of a cavernous main dining room in favour of smaller, more intimate venues.
Quantum will visit the UK briefly later this year before making its home in New York. Anthem will be based in Southampton from spring next year, putting Jamie in direct competition with fellow TV chefs James Martin and Marco Pierre White, who will both be masterminding restaurants on P&O’s Britannia.
The move to what Royal Caribbean call Dynamic Dining follows the example set by rivals Norwegian Cruise Line on their newer ships. Only five of the Quantum class restaurants will be complimentary; others, including the American Icon Grill, the pan-Asian Silk, Coastal Kitchen, will be subject to an extra charge.
Old favourites such as Chops Grille, Izumi, and Johnny Rockets burger bar will be joined by a gastropub devised by American celebrity chef Michael Schwartz, and for the health-conscious, Devenly Decadence in the Solarium Bistro, with menus compiled by Devin Alexander from TV’s The Biggest Loser.
For those who like to dress for dinner, every night will be formal night in The Grande, modelled on the luxurious salons of ocean liners.
Royal Caribbean’s Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said: “Jamie Oliver is known for pushing the boundaries within the world of food and Royal Caribbean has a history of pioneering many firsts within the holiday industry.
“With Jamie’s Italian creating unique but accessible dining with food that is at its freshest and ethically sourced, we are able to guarantee guests will only be served the freshest dishes possible. This is just one element of a revolutionised dining concept to ensure the options we have on board reflect what today’s modern family looks for from their holiday.”
Jamie – who says his father saved up to take him on a cruise every three years as a child – added: “Royal Caribbean shares my approach to food and dining, which is to serve simple, fresh ingredients. I couldn’t be more excited to bring my love of Italian cooking to their guests. It’s going to be brilliant.”
Steph Curtin, of online travel agent bonvoyage.co.uk, said: “It’s really great that Royal Caribbean, an American brand, have taken one of the UK’s best-loved chefs and added his name and culinary flair to two of their ships, particularly as Anthem will be based out of the UK for her maiden season.
“Although many other ships have restaurants or menus designed by famous chefs, I think Royal are really trying to work outside the box in terms of innovation by bringing someone like Jamie on to their ships and creating a new dining concept. I am really excited to try out his restaurant and I’m sure it will be massively popular with UK cruisers.”