Emeril Lagasse is taking his flavor profile out to sea. The celebrity chef is partnering with Carnival Cruise Line to deliver a signature restaurant on board the new ship Mardi Gras when it debuts in 2020.
The Port Canaveral-bound ship is the largest Carnival has ever built and has already made headlines with features like the first roller coaster at sea. Now Emeril will make his first foray into the cruise industry with the restaurant that will be named Emeril’s Bistro 1396.
Located in a section of the ship appropriately called the French Quarter, the restaurant will serve New Orleans cajun cuisine, the hallmark of the popular chef. "I've developed restaurants all over the country, but to create my first restaurant at sea - on a ship named Mardi Gras with its own French Quarter, no less - was an opportunity I simply could not pass up," said Lagasse.
“This goes back to when we were deciding we're going to name the ship Mardi Gras,” explained Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy. “Having a New Orleans zone or area dedicated to all things New Orleans. It doesn't take you long when you talk about New Orleans cooking and food, who else but Emeril?”
Why Emeril’s Bistro 1396? It’s the hull number for the ship currently under construction at Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, Duffy explained, and that Emeril liked it. Open for breakfast and all-day dining, the restaurant will feature Louisiana menu items like poboys, muffuletta sandwiches, gumbo and jambalaya. Breakfast items will include things like shrimp and grits and a shrimp Creole omelet. Dessert will include Bananas Foster and lemon ice box pie.
And entrees will include things like Emeril’s barbecue shrimp, fresh seafood ceviche and roasted duck & Andouille sausage gumbo. Sides will include creole potato salad with diced scallions, and red beans and the “jazz-man” rice. The New Orleans staple beignet is not planned on board, but Lagasse said menu limitations are not an uncommon challenge.
“You always wish that as a chef but there's only so much practicality that you can really deliver,” he said. “I think that's what's important is delivering the best experience that you possibly can to the guest.” The venue is casual with bar, booth and table seating, embedded into the French Quarter section of the ship that also will feature a signature jazz club. A raw bar will be on display including Louisiana crawfish as well as fresh oysters and other shellfish.
“We don't want to make it this like stuffy fine dining white tablecloth experience,” Lagasse said. “We may do that on another journey, but for this journey with the Mardi Gras ship, it's exactly what we want to give the guests … this French Quarter, Emeril, New Orleans experience.”
The a la carte menu will feature fairly inexpensive price points with $2 appetizers and entrees up to $12. Duffy has dined at several of Lagasse’s landside restaurants and is a fan. “The bananas Foster, it’s really a treat, and it should be just a treat. Of course his oysters are amazing too, but it's hard to pick one thing because it’s all good,” Duffy said.
Lagasse joins other celebrities tied to Carnival Cruise Line including fellow Food Network personality Guy Fieri as well as Shaquille O’Neal. “They're all you know for me authentically what the Carnival vacation experience represents, which is very approachable, laid back, relaxation, fun, good food, good music, have a laugh,” Duffy said. “We think it's such a logical partnership." Lagasse said he did not get into this partnership as some sort of goal to conquer another culinary landscape, but because of the ship’s theme and opportunity to play a role.
“I think you'll have a great experience all around but I think the food and beverage is going to be exceptional,” Lagasse said. “I think that you'll walk away feeling like you got just a tiny bit of the French Quarter, just a tiny bit of Emeril, just a tiny bit of Mardi Gras.”
At 180,000 gross-tons and 1,130 feet long, Mardi Gras will be the largest ship in the Carnival fleet. The 6,500-passenger ship will be sailing out of Port Canaveral’s Terminal 3, which is undergoing renovation now. The ship is powered by liquefied natural gas and will be the first such cruise ship to home port in North America. While it will debut in August 2020 with a maiden voyage in Europe, it will then sail to New York one six-night sailing before making its way on a 15-night trip to Port Canaveral. Once here, it will sail a one-time eight-night cruise from Oct. 16-24 and then begin its normal seven-night schedule sailing alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
Earlier announcements detailed some of the public spaces on the ship including its signature top-deck feature, an 800-foot-long roller coaster called Bolt: Ultimate Sea Coaster.
The ship will feature six named neighborhoods: Grand Central, French Quarter, La Piazza, Summer Landing, Lido and The Ultimate Playground. While it will have some new features specific to the ship such as a jazz club, it will also find homes for many of the venues that have been rolled out on earlier ships. That includes an expanded Guy's Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse from Guy Fieri. His other venue, Guy’s Burger Joint will be there along with Alchemy Bar, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, Seafood Shack, BlueIguana Cantina Mexican eatery, Pizzeria del Capitano and more.
By Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel
Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
For more cruise news and articles go to https://www.cruisecrazies.com