Food writer/personality Mark Bittman, a Michelin Star chef, Bocuse d’Or World Championship of Cooking winners, and even an Italian wine heiress are among the international culinary luminaries set for Crystal Cruises’ 15th annual Wine & Food Experiences of Discovery series in 2011.  Six ultra-luxury cruises will spotlight the artistry, craftsmanship and practiced palette of celebrated chefs, wine experts and mixologists that reflects each itinerary’s geographical region. 

Scheduled thus far are:

June 13 North Cape:
• 2011 Bocuse d’Or winner Rasmus Kofoed
• 2003 Bocuse d’Or winner Charles Tjessem
• Master of Wine Philip Goodband
• U.S. Bartenders Guild President Dave Nepove

August 2 Western Europe/Mediterranean:
• Michelin Star chef Alessandro Stratta
• Gaia Gaja of the Gaja Italian wine estate
• TV chef Jon Ashton

August 13 Alaska:
• JiRaffe’s Chef Raphael Lunetta
• H. Joseph Ehrmann, Green Mixologist/2010 Bartender of the Year
October 1 Mediterranean:
• Mark Bittman, best-selling author of How to Cook Everything
• Master Chef André Soltner
• Alexis Kahn, L’Ecôle French Culinary Institute wine director

October 24 Mediterranean/Holy Land:
• Persian chef Azmin Ghahreman
• Rajat Parr, wine director, all Michael Mina restaurants

December 11 Mexican Riviera:
• Mezcal expert/mixologist Steve Olson

In addition to hands-on instruction, sailings will variously feature chefs’ demos, wine tastings, pairing sessions, cocktail-making classes, “Iron Bar Chef” competitions, and/or sushi-making classes by Nobu-trained chefs from Crystal’s on-board Nobu Matsuhisa restaurants, Silk Road and The Sushi Bar.  Guest chefs will also craft a five-course, signature dinner, with Chef Stratta and Ms. Gaja creating an indulgent $1,000/person seven-course “Ultimate Vintage Room Experience.”

“Extraordinary culinary experiences are a hallmark of every Crystal vacation,” says Toni Neumeister, Crystal’s vice president, food and beverage operations.  “Wine & Food voyages allow travelers to immerse themselves in an area’s culture via the imaginative cuisine and practical techniques of some of the world’s most respected food and beverage professionals.”

The cruises also offer epicurean exploration via shore-side Crystal Adventures featuring private wine tastings, cooking lessons, and regional food sampling with local experts.