Jacques Van Staden, a nominee for the prestigious James Beard Foundation's "Rising Star of the Year" award, has signed on with Celebrity Cruises to oversee its culinary operations. The South Africa native, who has worked behind the stove at restaurants ranging from Washington, D.C.'s Citronelle to Las Vegas' Alize, basically replaces Michel Roux, the Michelin-starred chef who had partnered with Celebrity for the past 15 years.
Celebrity's statement about Van Staden and how he'll be involved is pretty vague -- but if Roux's role is any example, he'll oversee menu development and culinary training for onboard cooks. He'll also oversee beverage operations.
If a story on Van Staden by folks at the James Beard Foundation is any indication, he'll definitely bring a younger, more contemporary vibe to the table than did Roux, who was known for his more traditional Continental style. At the age of 7, Van Staden learned from his Italian grandmother, and knew by age 11 he wanted a career as a chef (in fact, according to the story, as a teen he was out earning money as a cook when his parents believed he was playing rugby).