I was extremely honoured to attend a lunch hosted by Royal Caribbean yesterday. The venue was Cliff Townhouse on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. After arriving by Enterprise train from Belfast to Connolly station and then ferried by cab, I arrived in time to carry on my chat with Mr Derek McKnight.
Derek, who hails from Cork, was gracious enough to share his thoughts with me during a Phone interview with him last November. He was a pleasure to talk to on the phone and it was a huge honour to actually get to meet him in the flesh and continue our conversation.
He is currently on leave from his position as Food & Beverage Director onboard Oasis of the Seas. Derek McKnight is fully responsible for the entire Food & Beverage operation onboard, with a team of 1,100 crew members, which is more than half of the entire crew. He is passionate about driving implementations onboard for new initiatives and directives from shore side. He also looks after all VIP guests, groups and charters with elaborate requirements in line with the Royal Way Philosophy.
Derek began his career with Royal Caribbean in 2008 as Executive Chef onboard Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, each with a combined capacity 8,500 passengers and crew. In this role he was in charge of all aspects of running the food operation, which included a management team of 350 culinary staff, 24 food outlets ranging from 3 fine dining restaurants, 8 themed specialty restaurants and a 3,000 capacity 3 tier dining room, and on average served 80,000 meals a day.
Derek undertook his culinary education in Rockwell Hotel and Catering College before joining Cunard in 1989. He worked as an executive sous chef in Grand Cayman from 1996 for seven years. He returned to Ireland to open and run his own bar and restaurant in his hometown of Schull in West Cork in 2003, before joining Royal Caribbean in 2008.
Our lunch was expertly prepared, presented and served by the wonderful staff. For starters I chose the salmon. This was a wonderful plate of organic salmon (red) and smoked salmon with beetroot, horseradish creme fraiche, lemon and salad leaves with fresh bread and butter. This was definitely the best starter as it was served in a clear dome over the starter filled with smoke which really added to the flavour!!
My main course was a very generous fish pie which was packed with prawns and cod, to name but two types of seafood present. It was served in a light creamy sauce with hints of samphyre and topped with fluffy potato. It was amazing!! Unfortunately I had to leave before my creme brûlée to catch my train. I would like to sincerely thank Louise and Aoife from Aiken PR for kind invite and travel, Royal Caribbean for hosting and Derek for his time and his snippets of info about his life before the high seas and on the high seas as chef extraordinaire!!!!