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Cooking with Jon Ashton

Jon Ashton

Crystal Cruises has found a way of communicating with its guests via weekly half-hour cooking demonstrations on its Facebook page, hosted by Chef Jon Ashton.

Part of a bigger effort to stay in touch, Cooking with Jon Ashton runs Sunday afternoons, while weekdays feature Storyteller Mondays, Wellness Wednesdays, Thirsty Thursday cocktail recipes; entertainment selections in Friday Nights at the Galaxy, and Sail Away Saturdays with guests sharing images and short videos from their Crystal voyages.

“It is about bringing the Crystal experience to our guests during this pause,” said Ashton, who was speaking to Cruise Industry News from his home on Martha’s Vineyard. “We are bringing the experience into their homes, it is a way for us to stay together and share positivity.”

Early summer shows featured wiener schnitzel, homemade scones, bread, penne alla vodka, mini egg cookies, mushroom soup and shrimp tacos.

Explained Ashton: “The recipes are a little different from what we have onboard where we have Michelin-inspired cuisine by the culinary team and Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. The recipes I use for the show are close to authentic but that people can actually make at home, being able to get the ingredients at the local supermarket.

“We want to give them tastes of different lands. It has to be a relatable recipe and something that make them feel good.”

Preparing the forest mushroom soup, Ashton took the viewer through the whole process of preparing and cooking the ingredients to serving the soup in a bread bowl or alternatively, cappuccino-style.

“The mushroom soup from Prego (specialty restaurant aboard Crystal’s ships) has been a guest favorite for years, but you have to have the porcini and morel mushrooms,” he added.
“When you get a recipe that works, that recipe creates kindness,” Ashton said. “When you cook, it comes from the heart. You can make people happy in that very short window of life.”

He does not think he will ever run out of recipes. “Let me clarify,” he added. “It is not just myself; I am surrounded by the best culinary team in the business; we brainstorm and come up with ideas together.

“We are blessed, because we can learn from the locals. It is not like somebody in a hotel taking recipes from a book, our chefs travel continuously to foreign lands and learn to create authentic foods.”

Ashton has worked with Crystal for 13 years, participating as a guest celebrity chef on the line’s Wine & Food Festival voyages. Last year, he also produced a 12-part video series.

“I am classically trained chef,” he explained, “and when I first visited a Crystal ship and saw how they prepared the food and how they made their stocks from scratch, I thought this is the way it should be. The attention to detail, the quality, the passion and the love for the guests were such that I just fell in love with the brand.”

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Summer 2020

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