The reincarnation of the Titanic by Australian tycoon Clive Palmer will include a dramatic grand staircase, marble-lined Turkish baths, and one hopes, more lifeboats. But until the Titanic II is built, a series of culinary events around the world will give the public a preview of the experience to come.
New York was the latest stop last week. With the help of New York-based caterers Pinch Food Design, an 11-course menu was created for Palmer's invite-only party to promote his project. Around 600 guests attended the black-tie dinner on the U.S.S. Intrepid docked on the Hudson River west of Times Square. Future food-themed parties will be held in London and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
On this night, a parade of early 20th-Century dishes based on a dinner served to first-class passengers on the original Titanic rivaled any trendy chef tasting menu. The meal featured a range of dishes, from a crystal-clear consommé Olga to slices of lamb loin nestled between nubs of mint gelee, peas, and boiled fingerling potatoes.
"It's a long meal but at least it's not our last one," quipped Robert Penfold, an Australian guest who lives in Los Angeles, as the ninth course was served, a dish with foie gras and shreds of asparagus drizzled with chive vinaigrette.
Bob Spiegel, Pinch's executive chef and co-founder, began working on the menu nearly a month ago, and he quickly discovered the meals showcased classic French cooking. But the biggest challenge was pulling off an elegant meal for the 600 guests that reflected the original meal. The custom-made plates and utensils — all 30,000 pieces — were shipped over from Australia.
By the time servers brought out the Waldorf pudding, Mr. Spiegel calculated about 200 diners had left the party. The meal finished just before midnight. At least four versions of "My Heart Will Go On" were performed as computer-animated renderings of the Titanic II flashed in the background.
"I kept picturing Kathy Bates eating this dinner," said Mr. Spiegel, referring to the actress who portrayed "the unskinkable" Molly Brown, in the Hollywood blockbuster.
He added that there will be future parties to introduce the public to Titanic II, and Pinch plans to be involved. It's been reported that some tickets for the maiden voyage have been sold for over $1 million for first-class cabins.
In addition to its elaborate meals, Titanic II will pay homage to the original ship in nearly every way. Passengers will be divided into three different classes, and clothing from the Titanic's era will be stocked in closets and gilded smoking rooms.
Construction of the ship is expected to start later this year, and if all goes well, the Titanic II will be ready by 2016 and will take the same path from Southampton, England, to New York. Everyone involved, of course, is hoping for a safe journey.
Image courtesy of Pinch Food Design.