At Oceania Cruises, Executive Chef and Culinary Enrichment Director Kathryn Kelly is responsible for developing the curriculum for the classes aboard the Marina and the Riviera and the line’s culinary discovery shore excursion tours.
“I also serve as one of the instructors onboard and lead culinary tours ashore,” Kelly told Cruise Industry News. “We visit local markets, interact with local chefs, visit agricultural sites within a region such as vineyards, fish farms, olive oil production facilities and more.”
Kelly said she wanted to be a chef from the time she was a teenager, but her family did not think it was a “smart” enough career. However, she worked in restaurants early on as a way of paying for college and went on to study public health in graduate school. She eventually landed executive positions at several companies, before returning to culinary school and pursuing her dream of becoming a chef.
“Both of my grandmothers were farmers and a life on a farm revolves around what is in season,” Kelly said. “My grandmothers helped fuel my passion for cooking early on. Already, when I was a child I was in the local 4H club and entered the baking contests at the county fair.”
Asked about one of her popular terms “healthy kitchens, healthy lives,” Kelly explained: “It means using a combination of healthy foods or ingredients, leveraging healthy cooking techniques and having an overall healthy orientation or outlook.”
She continued: “I think people should follow their passion, no matter what their age, and never stop yearning and learning.
“Teaching adults is what I am passionate about these days. Our entire educational system is ‘tilted’ to the young. What makes my job so fun and so rewarding is the chance to teach adults something they are interested in – and a skill they can use every day.”
Culinary classes vary, focusing on cuisine from the destinations the ships visit along with courses that cover how to prepare vegetarian dishes or how best to prepare fish. More than 20 different courses are offered, and they are hands-on, with two guests at each of 12 work stations. The guests cook and afterward they can sample the fruits of their labor.