If you ever get the chance to experience the Chef’s Table when you’re on a Carnival cruise, do it! If you’re a foodie or willing to be a little adventurous in, have a couple hours to spare, like your wine, want a tour of the kitchen galleys, or have $75 burning a hole in your pocket, chances are you’ll enjoy this special event!
If you are thinking of booking the Chef’s Table though, do so in advance! Like months in advance if you can. They only allow 12 people in a sitting and it only happens once on a 3 day cruise. I had reserved it a couple months before the cruise and got a confirmation email back. After the first night of our cruise came and went and we didn’t receive a letter telling us where to meet anyone or what day it would be on, I was getting a little worried. I went down to Guest Services (on port day so everyone was off the ship and the line was short) to ask about it. Turns out this group of 15 had it all booked up and they didn’t have our reservation! I showed them a copy of the confirmation email that I brought with me (because I’m
anal a planner like that) and they said they’d see what they could do. I was feeling pretty bummed until late that evening that we got confirmed we would be able to attend!
We received this in our room:
Here is the menu for the Chef’s Table. This is the same for most of the ships right now. They are testing out a new menu on the Vista, but it will still be quite a while before they make it fleetwide.
(To read the menu better, try clicking on the picture to make it bigger or go here under Chef’s Table where I scanned it).
The night started out with us meeting the rest of the group at the atrium bar. From there they brough us to a waiting area off to the side and handed us champagne while we waited for everyone to arrive. Then the chef met us and brought everyone into the galley.
Here, we had our appetizers (4 of them!)
Mango Sphere, Rosemary Biscuit
So…this looks like an egg yolk, right? Our chef didn’t tell us what it was, just that we had to trust him. He also mentioned that we had to put it all on our mouth in one bite or it would have oozed all over us. Everybody, 1….2….3……Mango! I think we all looked relieved that it wasn’t egg, lol. The mango definitely pops in your mouth, but it was really good. I loved the “rosemary biscuit” that came with it. It was like a crumbly cookie and the different textures were really nice.
Salmon Tartar Cornets
Okay, so I had seen this menu before I did the tasting because I had read someone else’s review before my trip. I knew I was going to have to go in open minded and be a little brave, because honestly, I don’t eat raw food. Anything tartar is something I’ve stayed away from my whole life. Mys husband has been trying to get me to eat it for YEARS. But going into this, I promised myself I would try everything. You know what? Salmon tartar…pretty darn good! It came in a little pastry cornet and had sour cream and I believe avocado on it. It wasn’t my favorite of the night, but I give it a solid 7.5.
Beef Carpaccio on Air Pillow, Chocolate Bacon, Apple Ribbons
Again with the rare food. Be brave, Kelly, lol. But seriously though, look at this presentation! And did someone say chocolate bacon??? By the way…how am I supposed to eat this thing?? The chef instructed us to take the bacon off and taste that first. Then, pop the whole beef carpaccio thing in your mouth with a little more bacon. Umm….oh…my…god. I think I may have melted into the floor right here. Now this was one of my favorites of the night! Who knew??? What made it for me was inside this “air pillow” was some amazing Parmesan cheese that with everything else, was just heavenly.
Double Cooked Lamb, Tapioca
Again, I’ve tried lamb before, and it hasn’t really been my cup of tea. This was better than any lamb I’ve tried before…but it didn’t make a huge impression on me. I’ll give it a 6.
After that we saw a little more of the galley and they gave us a demonstration on how their Chocolate Melting Cake is made! It’s surprisingly super easy and is only like 4 ingredients.
Then it was time to head into the Library for the rest of the courses (and wine with each course)! Everyone had a cute little place tag with their name so they know where to sit.
I wish the menu would have described these, but it didn’t as they didn’t count as a course. But these rolls were delicious. The crumbles on top of them are blue cheese, which normally, I do not care for. They had roasted garlic on the side which you squeeze out and add with the butter to put on the roll as well. So good.
Beet Blanket, Spiced Grape Tea
Now this was interesting. We were all trying to guess what it was. Turns out that the colored layers are asparagus (green), cauliflower (white), honey carrot (orange, all wrapped in a beet blanket (red). Hmmmm. The technique and the amount of time that went into this dish is impressive….so much work for such a small amount of food. But this technique and precision is something found throughout the entire dinner.
So then they pour on this “spiced grape tea”….
The beet blankets were…interesting. They were pretty tasty…more so than I was expecting. But they seemed a little gel like(?) in the centers. It was supposed to be like that, just an odd texture for me personally. But that grape tea??? Delicious! My favorite part of that dish for sure.
Next, they sent in a magician for a little entertainment before the main courses. It was a fun surprise and broke things up. It gave us a nice little break to rest our stomachs before more courses!
The crab stack is on a corn custard with polenta crackers. The red bit on top is a passion fruit caviar. I love crab….but this was really one of my least favorite dishes. My husband’s as well. I’m not going to say it tasted bad..it didn’t. I think maybe it was lacking flavor? I thought the normal crab cake in the dining room had more flavor. Maybe it’s just in comparison to the rest of the amazing food that was served?? Either way…all of this food…you can’t win them all!
Again, I’m usually not a huge fan of duck, but this was really good! Underneath the duck was this creamy quinoa….and omg it was amazing! The best part of the dish…for me. I have never had quinoa like this before…..so so so good. This dish was up there on my list…..very good!
Bisque Our Way
So they start out by bringing you this:
And you’re wondering what it is. Well, it’s some cream cheese (?), garlic chips, and basil. Then they tell us it’s a soup and pour two separate colored soups at the same time into the dish:
It’s a yellow tomato and a regular tomato soup. You’re instructed to taste each one separately and then mix everything together and taste again. It was interesting getting to taste the individual flavors and then see what happened as it all came together. Lots of ooooohs and ahhhhhs with this one. Everyone’s plate was cleaned. Definitely a favorite of the night for everyone! Sooooo good!
This sea bass had a chorizo crust, fried popcorn pudding is the brown squares along the side, and a lemon macaroon on top. Then they added a lobster foam sauce:
The popcorn pudding really does taste like popcorn! Pretty amazing. The lemon macaroon was delicious. I didn’t have high hopes for that since I recently tried them on my trip to Montreal earlier in the summer and didn’t really like them….but this was was really good. The sea bass…my husband and I both agree it wasn’t their best dish. Mine was pretty dry.
This dish was Wagyu beef with a bone marrow souffle. The beef was really tender and had a nice flavor. I was a little hesitant to try the bone marrow souffle (another dish my husband has been trying to get me to try for a long time)….but it was pretty good! For what it’s worth, my husband loved the souffle.
By this point, everyone was stuffed, but there was still….
So much dessert! There was a macaroon, key lime cake, sea salt praline chocolate mousse, raspberry mojito cake…… and coffee! The chocolate mousse was my favorite. They also brought our little birthday and anniversary cakes to the people that were celebrating which I thought was nice. We all sang Happy Birthday to one of the ladies and she blew out some candles.
The whole experience ended up being just under 4 hours from start to finish. So certainly plan on spending some time here, but it was a great event! It was nice to get to talk to the staff, see the galleys, and of course have the wonderful food. Was $75 worth it? Yes!! Besides all of the special attention, behind the scenes information, food, wine and champagne, seeing how the famous chocolate melting cake was made…..we even got the picture of everyone together with the chef for a souvenir! If you have the opportunity to try it….I don’t think you could regret it! It makes for a very nice evening and would be great to surprise someone with!