After hosting an eight week-long contest, which culminated with five intense hours in the competition kitchens at The Culinary Institute of America, Royal Caribbean International has found the next culinary superstar to lead the kitchen of the signature restaurant onboard Allure of the Seas, the cruise line's newest ship which will make her debut in December 2010 and share the title of world's largest and most innovative cruise ship with sister-ship Oasis of the Seas. Maureen “Molly” Brandt of Stillwater, Minn. has landed the job of a lifetime: a one-year paid contract to be the Chef de Cuisine of 150 Central Park onboard Allure of the Seas.
Brandt was one of six chefs – all graduates of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the world’s premier culinary college – to be a finalist in the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge, a contest open exclusively to the CIA’s network of 40,000 alumni. The six chefs participated in a two-part final challenge at the college's Hyde Park campus in New York on August 5 & 6, where they were each required to showcase their culinary prowess and creativity by participating in an interview with, as well preparing a three-course meal for, an esteemed panel of judges from Royal Caribbean and The Culinary Institute of America.
“Partnering with the Culinary Institute and having the ability to tap into their alumni has been an amazing opportunity,” said Lisa Bauer, Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean International. “Each of the finalists truly showcased their passion and knowledge in the kitchen and we are extremely excited to have selected Molly as our new Chef de Cuisine for 150 Central Park.”
After her entry video was selected as the “fan favorite” in the consumer voting portion of the contest, Brandt went on to impress the judges at the Final Challenge by serving up a menu consisting of Chilled Lobster with fennel, carrots, citrus, caviar and tempura battered lobster mitt; Provencal Lamb Loin with Dijon potato puree, ratatouille, pattypan squash and olive tapenade; and Pistachio Cake with whipped rosewater crème fraiche and carbonated raspberries.
“This entire process with The Culinary Institute of America and Royal Caribbean has been such an amazing experience and hearing my name announced as the winner of the Culinary Challenge was surreal,” stated Maureen “Molly” Brandt, Chef de Cuisine, 150 Central Park, Allure of the Seas. “I am beyond thrilled to open this amazing restaurant and look forward to crafting the perfect menu for our guests over the next couple of months as we count down to the launch of Allure.”
A 2006 alumni of The Culinary Institute of America, Brant was named a Food and Wine best student chef in 2006. While in training she worked at the Food Network as a culinary extern, where she prepared food for a variety of production projects including “Iron Chef America,” “Emeril Live,” and “Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee.” Immediately following graduation, she spent a year as a teaching assistant in the CIA’s Escoffier restaurant, before going on to work in the kitchens at many reputable restaurants in New York, Minnesota and abroad, including the critically acclaimed, Michelin starred Cafe Boulud in New York City. Currently Brandt owns her own private chef and catering company, Cook in the Kitchen in the Twin Cities. She is also the co-founder and villa chef for Flavors of Italia, a company that offers intimate, culinary-focused vacations in Northern Tuscany.
Located in the lush and tropical grounds of the ship’s Central Park neighborhood, 150 Central Park will feature décor that will embrace the mellow earth tones, unique textiles and fixtures inspired by nature’s four seasons. Inspired by the simple elegance concept of trend-setting restaurants in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, each detail of 150 Central Park will be dedicated to enhancing the dining ambiance, from the tabletops to the service team uniforms. The restaurant menu and certain design aspects will be developed and determined by the winning chef of the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge.