February 18, 2022. 77°F/25°C
It’s pedicure day!! (also Friday, although that is pretty meaningless these days)
But first, The Great Viking Cook-off, where crew members with “absolutely no culinary experience” competed in teams against each other to create a culinary masterpiece from ingredients curated by Executive Chef Thomas. Their dishes were rated on taste, presentation, creativity, and teamwork.
A good sized crowd headed to the Star Theater to witness the competition. I went alone while Ted got caught up on reading his online newspapers, so all the photos are from my phone plus those generously shared by our friend Allan.
The show’s intro music was Weird Al Yankovic’s “Eat It!” We weren’t sure whether we would or not… our Emcee for the event was not instilling in us a great sense of confidence.
The teams were able to work with all of the topnotch ingredients that our “real” chefs use: Tomahawk steaks, chicken breasts, filet mignons, pork loin chops, sea bass, calamari, prawns, langoustine, tons of fresh fruits and veggies, rice, pasta, potatoes, red and white wines, limoncello, mandarin Napoleon, Pernod, and port. They also had a whole range of pre-chopped fresh herbs and spices available to them – but they only had 15 minutes to create their main dish!
Each team was led by one of the ship’s actual chefs, but those chefs could not touch the food, demonstrate, or give specific instructions. They did have some initial advice though: “Don’t overcook the pasta and don’t burn the meat!”
The Red Pepper team, led by sous-chef Ashish, consisted of deck crew: chief engineer Ibo, plumber Bramir, deck cadet Finn, and security member Marilyn. They chose to work with seafood elements. Ashish described their dish as “very exciting”. That could certainly mean lots of things! As the team added a generous pour of limoncello to their seafood, he modified his opinion to: “It’s fusion cuisine. Very nutritious and healthy with everything in one pot”.
The Green Pepper team, led by executive corporate chef Patrick, consisted of members of our hotel staff: our beverage manager Andrej, guest services manager Mara, shore excursion manager Rob and restaurant supervisor Uma. They chose to work with the filet of beef. As they progressed, Chef Patrick described their dish as “very organic” and “taking shape… as long as the team continues to listen to Mara!” Rob, meanwhile, juggled yellow peppers while the rest of his team cooked.
Our Cruise Director Aaron donned an apron – not for cooking, but to protect his suit from “accidents” – and then narrated the action and manned the fire extinguisher.
At one point a prawn ended up in someone’s chef’s hat and we thought things might go downhill from there, but the teams held it together and remained focussed on their dishes.
As the frenzied activity continued on stage, it certainly smelled good.
There was an opportunity for audience members to taste the final dishes – with “medical standing by”. I tried team Green Pepper’s steak, which was delicious and tender, but was afraid to try the seafood after Aaron said the langoustine was still moving!
After round one of audience voting, the teams were tied – prompting Aaron to demand a “Florida recount”, but to no avail. There was no clear winner… or loser.
All that food activity had me hungry, so I met Ted for lunch in the World Café. With all the rich and tempting food everywhere, I really just wanted a simple sandwich, so I got 2 slices of baguette from the bakery station, and headed to where a beautiful glazed ham was being carved. Heaven forbid that a passenger should lift a finger on this ship though; as soon as I mentioned that I only wanted a slice big enough for a sandwich, my plate was whisked out of my hands. The line cook insisted on crisping my bread on the grill, layering thin slices of lean ham on it, adding the mustard for me, and arranging it artfully on my plate. How spoiled are we? Very!
Tonight we returned to Manfredi’s, the ship’s specialty Italian restaurant, to have dinner with Judy and Bill, a very interesting couple, retired from careers in the U.S. diplomatic service, who have lots of family heritage in common with us. Judy writes a wonderful (not public) blog for her family and friends that she has graciously shared with me. It’s really a treat to be able to look at our cruise days from different perspectives, and see what we might otherwise have missed. We had a wonderful dinner getting to know each other better, and will have to do it again!
Manfredi’s changes their menu each month, rotating through 3 versions. There are a couple of items that are common to all three: their popular and iconic Bistecca, some version of Caprese salad, and tiramisu. Also “standard” is the fact that there is a chef’s special pasta dish and fish dish that changes every day depending on the chef’s whim.
After dinner, we were treated to yet another guest entertainer that joined the ship in Montevideo: veteran ventriloquist – and Vancouver Canada native – Don Bryan and his “sidekick” Noseworthy. It wasn’t Ted’s cup of tea (he’s not generally a fan of any kind of stand-up comedy, even with an inanimate sidekick), but I laughed out loud quite a few times.
Oh…. the toes ended up sparkly light blue. Justina, my salon tech, said it looked like a colour Elsa from the movie Frozen would wear!