Recently I had the great pleasure of being invited on the cruise ship Queen Victoria for a luncheon at the restaurant Todd English, to meet Chef Todd and take a tour of the ship. I had never been on a cruise ship before, so it was all new and exciting for me. Here you can see Harbor Drive going down to the World Cruise Center Catalina Terminal in San Pedro and the stacks of one of the other gigantic cruise ships. I took this from my car as we inched along.
The Queen Victoria is immense. The top photo is a composite of four photos, because I couldn’t get it all in one shot. The QV weighs 90,000 tons and her length is 964.5 feet (294 meters). That is the length of 3 ¼ football fields. If you stood it on end, it would be 65 stories tall. She was built for Cunard by the Italian shipyard Fincantiere and cost approximately $522 million. Her maiden voyage out of Southampton, England, was December 11, 2007 after being named the previous day by Camilla, HRH the Duchess of Cornwall in the presence of Charles, HRH the Prince of Wales. She has a passenger capacity of 2014 with a crew of approximately 1000. The QV has 13 bars and clubs, 7 restaurants, proper English Tea served daily and room service 24/7.
The restaurant, Todd English, is quite elegant and has windows that overlook the water. My table companions were Patti of Worth the Whisk and her husband, and Erika of In Erika’s Kitchen and her husband, which made for quite lively conversation to go with our dining experience. It was fun to be with other people that were just as interested in photographing the food as eating it.
Chef Todd English was 20 when he attended the Culinary Institute of America and he graduated in 1982 with honors. He worked with Jean Jacques Rachou at New York’s La Cote Basque and in Italy apprenticed at Dal Pescatore and Paraccuchi. He returned to the U.S. at 25 and was asked to be the Executive Chef at award winning Michela’s in Cambridge, Mass., where for three years he received high praise from press and public.
In 1991 the James Beard Foundation named him their National Rising Star Chef; in 1994 Best Chef in the Northeast; 1999 “Top 50 Tastemakers”; 2001 Bon Appetit’s Restaurateur of the Year; and People Magazines 50 Most Beautiful People. He was recently named to the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who in Food and Beverage in America.”
Chef Todd is currently Chef and owner of three Olives in Charlestown, Mass; New York in Union Square; and at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. He has four Figs Restaurants and 14 additional restaurants nation-wide. He has numerous television credits, including the series “Cooking Under Fire”, Iron Chef USA and Martha Stewart Living.
Chef Todd has written three acclaimed cookbooks and has a line of cookware and lifestyle products. He is also involved with several charities including Big Brothers, Share Our Strength, and Boys and Girls Clubs.
Here you can see Erika and Patti as we were waiting to talk to Chef Todd.
After our delightful lunch, we met with Chef Todd in a small bar, where we had a short question and answer session. Someone asked him what he would be doing if he wasn’t a chef, and he said he would be living on an island somewhere in the South Pacific.
Chef Todd talks with his hands, which may be part of his Italian heritage. He was standing about three feet in front of me, so his hands were right in front of my camera.
Next was our tour of the ship, which was very interesting to me, because I had never been on a cruise ship before. On a 12-day voyage there are 1072 pounds of lobster served; 14,105 pounds of potatoes served; 1705 pounds of coffee; 51,847 eggs; 24 pounds of caviar; 2617 bottles of champagne; and 1752 gallons of beer. The annual consumption is 954,681 teabags; 59,060 pounds of coffee; 1,528,707 eggs; and 34,871 pounds of breakfast cereal. All meals are included in the price of the ticket. I would be a butterball by the time I got home.
I asked our tour guide if there was anything to do on the ship besides eat, because it seemed there were restaurants at every turn. She said we could go shopping in the boutiques and art galleries, or visit the two-story library which has a spiral stairway and 6,000 books. We could go to the casino and play the slots, or attend a play. We could visit the pool and jacuzzi outside or go to the gym and spa. Here is a photo tour as we walked and walked. I was lost immediately.
GolinHarris, the PR firm for Cunard Line/Queen Victoria, gave us a whole packet of information about the ship and Chef Todd English, which I have used extensively in the story above. One of the facts that made me laugh out loud was this:
There are 280,000 square yards (159 miles) of carpet on the Queen Victoria.
I laughed because I am a carpet aficionado and I was in heaven walking on all the beautiful carpet everywhere we went. The colors and designs were different in each area and I took photos of the carpet throughout our tour. Ok, I’m weird. Check these out:
So it was time to end our stay on the Queen Victoria. We turned in our bar code badges and got our Driver’s Licenses returned to us. As I was walking out of the terminal, I saw Chef Todd English getting in his limousine, no doubt rushing off to his next engagement.
Farewell, Queen Victoria.