Upscale dining is going up the river ... in a good way.
Victoria Cruises has announced that all seven ships in its Yangtze River fleet now offer menu items conceived by award-winning chef Walter Staib. Walter Staib has appeared on Food Network's "Cooking Live with Sara Moulton" and CBS' "Chef on a Shoestring," and is the recipient of American Academy of Hospitality Sciences 2004 Five Star Diamond Awards (Chef and Restaurant).
Celebrity chefs teaming up with cruise lines is nothing new: Cunard's got Todd English, Crystal's brought in recipes from Wolfgang Puck, and Celebrity recently collaborated with Giada de Laurentiis and Tyler Florence for a wedding giveaway. However, the trend is just starting to take off on river boats; most recently, renowned chef Martin Yan developed meals for Viking River Cruises highlighting a variety of regions in China.
Ironically, Staib was brought on by Victoria to do the opposite -- create new Western-style dishes to complement an otherwise Chinese menu. The menus vary by ship, but a few fresh offerings river cruisers might enjoy are pasta salad, pork chops with mushroom sauce, beef stroganoff, rice pudding and chocolate mousse cake.
Chef Bill Sederman from Concepts By Staib, Ltd. -- Staib's hospitality consulting firm -- sailed on Victoria Anna's inaugural in April to kick off the program, make sure the kitchen was running smoothly, and to help onboard cooks with preparation and technique. The menus are now available fleetwide.