When it comes with a James Beard Award-winning chef, it's a true culinary cruise.

By Yolanda Crous
April 08, 2016
Credit: Justin Lewis/Courtesy Windstar Cruises

Cruise lines continue to boost their culinary cred by adding celeb-chef-helmed sailings to their lineups. Case in point: Windstar, which is partnering with the James Beard Foundation on three foodie-friendly European cruises in 2016. On each sailing, guests will get face time with a James Beard-nominated or -award-winning chef, who will create a locally inspired dish each night, do on-board cooking demonstrations, and even lead an off-ship excursion or two. Regional wines will be in the spotlight, too: A guest wine expert will be on board to put together tastings and pairings.

Three-time James Beard award winner and founder of food-equity non-profit Wholesome Wave, chef Michel Nischan is onboard for the first voyage, an eight-day April 24 sailing from Lisbon to Barcelona on the Wind Surf. Ports of call include Málaga, Almeria, and Tangier, Morocco, so expect Nischan to put his career-long commitment to local, sustainable food to work by focusing on the flavors and ingredients of southern Spain and Morocco. As for those tempranillos and cavas, Steve Olson of aka wine geek, who’s consulted with the Spanish government for the past 25 years, will be on hand for pairings and tastings.

The cuisine of Portugal, northern Spain, and France are the stars of the remaining two cruises, both 10-day sailings on the Star Le­gend. On June 10, Maria Hines, owner and executive chef of Seattle’s organic-cuisine mecca Tilth, will work her culinary magic on a Lisbon to Dublin voyage, while on August 9, Matt and Kate Jennings, owners and chefs of sustainability-focused Townsman in Boston, will take the reverse route during the Dublin to Lisbon trip. Sip sidra in the orchards of Gijon, ports in Porto, Bordeaux in Bordeaux, and cognacs in La Rochelle. (Sommelier William Davis of wine and spirits importer Wilson Daniels has signed up for the June 10 cruise; the sommelier for the August 9 sailing has not yet been announced.) Before every onboard dinner on both sailings, guests will gather for wine tastings and tapas, but the true highlight may just be the cooking demonstration in a Bordeaux chateau.