Michel Roux, the celebrated Michelin-starred French chef who served as the cruise industry's first "celebrity" chef for over a decade at Celebrity, is the star of his own autobiography (natch) in Life is a Menu. Here we learn how a handsome, debonair Frenchmen with a deep, sensually accented voice highlights the events of his carefully guided career. From a young boy in the 1940's on the streets of France to a man of world travels, Michel has devoted his life to mastering the food art profession.
He is candid with his personal likes and dislikes, he willingly shares his treasured personal notes that always travel with him, and he includes photographs of those who shaped his life. Join Michel as he tells tales of working for the British Embassy in Paris to the private residential kitchen of Mlle Cecile de Rothschild. Tossed in for good measure are anecdotes from Greta Garbo to the Queen of England and more. Though having just retired from cruise ships, for over 15 years he single handedly shaped the standard of food excellence for Celebrity Cruises. The cruise industry chefs today strive to duplicate his high standards.
Having the honor to personally know this extraordinary Master Chef, I have witnessed how easily he can serve thousands in a few hours. Not to mention, when he was onboard, his chefs would excitingly create their own specialties in hopes of receiving his approval or expertise. When he walks the streets of London or Paris, reactions towards him are equal to a movie star.
Another plus about Life is a Menu: Roux provides recipes and they are enticement enough to encourage me to whip up (so to speak) a romantic meal. He was the maestro behind Celebrity's famed goat cheese souffle (it's not as hard as you'd think to make), and I also love his Lobster Medallions in Port Sauce. He also offers recipes from the menu at his Michelin-acclaimed three-star Waterside Inn in Bray, England.
A Taste of Excellence Cookbook:
Holland America Line (Culinary Signature Collection) by Rudi Sodamin ($19.77); (£11.84)
Master chef and Holland America Line culinary consultant Rudi Sodamin has put together an attractive and fairly useful collection of popular items and specialties from the chefs and kitchens of the line's worldwide fleet in A Taste of Excellence Cookbook: Holland America Line (Culinary Signature Collection). Some of the dishes are a bit complicated, but others such as a Wild Mushroom Strudel are relatively simple and can even be adapted at home without losing their taste or appearance.
Sodamin, who has worked before with Royal Caribbean and Cunard and compiled good cookbooks for both, emphasizes freshness, variety and the need to please the eye as well as the palate.
The book also interweaves stories and info about Holland America and its ships and history as his other books have done.
--by Glenn Tucker, Cruise Critic contributor
Carnival Towel Creations by Carnival Cruise Lines ($12.95)
Years ago, one of my friends came home from her first Carnival cruise raving about the "monkey" that was hanging around in her room after dinner. I had no idea what she was talking about until she showed me pictures of her newest cabin mate: a cotton towel made to look like her favorite animal. The art of towel origami onboard Carnival Cruise Lines has impressed so many cruisers that they've created a book, Carnival Towel Creations, that gives us the skills to take a stab at creating our own cotton elephant or stingray. This hardcover guide offers step-by-step photo instructions -- with the "animals" photographed in the great outdoors. The end result? A towel animal farm of 40 different towel animals....
--by Erica Sapio
Courses: A Culinary Journey by Chefs at Princess Cruises ($35)
The usual cruise line cookbook typically features some tried-and-true favorites (roasted tom turkey seems to show up a lot) and some pretty photos of food. Courses is different. Divided by itinerary it's both a perfect tome for those suffering wanderlust (photos of destinations are gorgeous and each section, from Alaska to the Mediterranean, features a sample itinerary) and the recipes are divine. I can't wait to try the Panama Canal's chicken Kiev, western Europe's escargots a'la bourguignonne, and Australia/New Zealand's vanilla cognac souffle. Only downside: The book is styled (and priced) more as a coffee table book than a cookbook. But it's the kind of book that should be used, not just admired.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor
Salty Dog Talk: The Nautical Origins of Everyday Expressions by Bill Beavis & Richard G. McCloskey (from $8.95); (£6.39)
For anyone interested in "etymology" (the formation and development of words) or for those who just plain want to understand how words like adrift and port vs. starboard er, drifted from the nautical lexicon to the mainstream one, Princess Cruises' executive Julie Benson tipped us off to Salty Dog: The Nautical Origins of Everyday Expressions. It's a terrific stocking stuffer -- and frankly we think that some enterprising ship aficionado could use this to create a fun trivia game. Hint. Hint. Hint.