We've seen him on television and his cookbooks line our shelves, but one thing Australians haven't truly had a taste of is Curtis Stone's lauded cuisine. Until now.
The much-loved chef's first local restaurant, SHARE, has reached Australian shores, commanding pride of place onboard Sun Princess.
The Down Under debut of SHARE follows Curtis' partnership with Princess Cruises, adding to the existing range of 'Crafted by Curtis' menu items throughout the 18-ship fleet. The restaurant joins its Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess Northern Hemisphere counterparts.
"My cooking philosophy is to keep it simple and cook with naturally produced ingredients just as Mother Nature intended," he says.
Curtis Stone's culinary ethos naturally marries with Princess Cruises' 'designed for fresh' food philosophy. It's a match made in heaven – or in this case, on the high seas.
Curtis isn't the first king of the kitchen to land on a cruise ship, nor will he be the last, but SHARE exudes a certain comfort unlike other celebrity chef restaurants found at sea.
SHARE is elegant, yet relaxed; refined, but not pretentious. Atop the impressive atrium, leather banquettes create cosy nooks to linger longer with loved ones, while decorative curios hand-picked by Curtis himself – including his first-ever recipe – lend the space an intimate atmosphere. It's a beautiful place where you'll immediately feel at home.
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“Since I travel often, I know that discovering delicious food and sharing a great meal can create some of the most memorable moments and I’ve designed my restaurants with this in mind. I love the process of passing plates among each other and creating meaningful conversations through food,” says Curtis.
And that's exactly what SHARE delivers.
Its contemporary share-plate menu has been crafted specifically for Australian tastes, with nods to regional producers, including 22 local wines. You won't be faced with endless choices, though he and executive chef Christian Dortch certainly haven't made it easy to choose.
Hungry cruisers will be treated to a veritable medley of dishes; think charcuterie plates, artfully plated salads (including a modern take on the classic caprese using oozy burrata cheese and roasted tomatoes) and a spread of hearty mains.
Curtis counts his favourite dish as the roasted king crab leg baked with lemongrass served with chicharron powder (crispy pig skin crumble), fermented soybean aioli and clarified butter. Add a side of decadent potato gratin that sings with a hint of truffle and you've got the perfect meal.
When it comes to the sweet stuff, veer away from the beautifully plated contemporary bites, for a hearty serve of bread and butter pudding. Even the most discerning who usually associate this humble pud' with a soggy mess (guilty) will be promptly won over by the custard-soaked sourdough cubes, silky butterscotch sauce and almost candy-like crispy exterior.
This dish is exactly why there's an extensive gym and fitness program onboard.
While it's unlikely you'll find Curtis on the pass, diners at SHARE will be in great hands with his right-hand man executive chef Christian Dortch at the helm.
Curtis may have his hands full setting up his second restaurant in LA, Gwen, but I have it on good authority the chef keeps Princess cruise ship itineraries on hand so he can duck onboard whenever his schedule aligns with time in port.
Set your course to the high seas with chef Curtis Stone as your guide. Bon appétit!
Sun Princess became the first Australian-based cruise ship to feature the new Princess Luxury Bed in all cabins. Further enhancements to the ship from its recent dry dock include the new Kai Sushi Bar which pairs fine wines with fresh seafood, and the Australian debut of the cruise line's highest-rated show, Bravo.
Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest Princess Cruise deals.