Norwegian ‘On Trend’ in Food and Beverage

The new Texas Smokehouse Q

“We are very much on trend with what our guests’ expectations are and the many ways we can exceed those,” said Wes Cort, vice president, food and beverage operations, Norwegian Cruise Line.

“We are very diverse in what we offer from our standard concepts that are at the top of the list in terms of popularity –  Cagney’s steakhouse, Le Bistro for French cuisine, La Cucina for Italian and Teppanyaki for Japanese – but also staying on trend with other concepts like the Food Republic, Ocean Blue, Q and Los Lobos.

“So I think that being on trend, being very diverse, gives our guests opportunities to dine for special occasions and also have casual options with high quality foods.”

To reach its current level of quality foods, Cort said that Norwegian had done a full review of all its dining concepts and signature restaurants some time ago. “We made a significant investment going back and looking at all our concepts,” Cort said. “And we made a significant investment in product and training. Our chefs go through a culinary training process we have onboard; we have trainers on the ships that are certified. In addition, we also invested in front of the house, training waiters to become level one sommeliers, and some added training provided by our resource partners.”

Cort also said 98 percent of the food is made from scratch aboard the ships. “We create everything fresh and from scratch – sauces, breads, pastry, desserts; we have full-service butcheries, and we  buy our fish whole and cut and trim it ourselves. There is very little we buy in a package.”

Wes Cort, vice president, food and beverage operations, Norwegian Cruise Line

While Norwegian has always offered some regional dishes based on itineraries, and carried local beers and wines, European sailings now have more regional and local condiments aboard, as well as sausages, cheeses and meats.

Norwegian’s newest ship, the Bliss, features a number of new dining venues. Q is a Texas smokehouse, serving authentic Texas-style barbecue – smoked meats, brisket, beef and pork ribs, pulled pork and some “cool” side items, plus there is live entertainment.

Another hit is Los Lobos, featuring authentic Mexican cuisine, as well as tequilas and mezcals, including a signature blended tequila just for the Bliss.

“Our demographic looks for venues that are more casual but have great food and beverages,” he added. “The Food Republic is also popular and is our highest-rated restaurant.”

The new ship will also have a Margaritaville restaurant and Coco’s, a dessert venue with “chocolate dishes over the top,” according to Cort.

Ocean Blue, another Norwegian hallmark restaurant, will be a little different with the ship sailing seasonally in Alaska and the Caribbean. When based in Seattle, the restaurant will serve seafood from the Northwest, such as salmon, halibut, chowder and oysters from the region. When moving to Miami, Ocean Blue switches menus back to seafood from Florida, the Gulf and the Atlantic coast.

Cort said they are always looking for new products in conjunction with the procurement team and ways to improve existing products.

“The process to create a new dish or a new menu starts with being on trend,” he said, “understanding what concepts are hot and up and coming. “We also introduce new menus or concepts when we have new ships, and when ships go in to be retrofitted. This is an ongoing effort.”

After the Bliss, Cort said he is already working on the Encore and has started work on the Leonardo class as well.

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Summer 2018

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