If a refreshing cucumber cocktail and daring fruit "sushi" dessert appeal, look no further than your next cruise meal. The Third Annual BACARDI Cruise Competition's Bartender of the Year and Chef of the Year were announced yesterday at the Marine Hotel Association Welcome Reception at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, Florida, and the winners are:
Bartender of the Year: Jesus Gomez, Assistant Bar Manager, Celebrity Cruises
The Recipe: Eureka (my personal favorite from the VIP judging)
Chef of the Year: Manuel Luis Domingo, First Cook, Princess Cruises
The Recipe: Fruit Sushi in Bacardi Raspberry Coulis
Both Domingo and Gomez were on hand to accept their awards -- each received a cash scholarship of $1,000 for independent study; all semifinalists received $500.
This was a year of firsts for the competition. Never before has the same chef placed in two categories (Domingo, named Chef of the Year for his dessert, was also responsible for the winner in the soup category).
Also, for the first time this year, the vote was opened up to Cruise Critic readers via the Cruise Critic Cruisers' Choice Awards. Though the staffers responsible for your top-ranked recipes were not able to attend yesterday's event -- Royal Caribbean's Mauricio Campos for one is tied up in Turku, Finland, helping preparing Independence of the Seas for launch -- we presented representatives of each line with a plaque (for shipboard display) and certificates (for the staffer to keep).
The cocktail party-style reception, held on an al fresco patio at the resort's convention center, offered samplings of the 10 semifinalists' dishes and drinks. But don't worry: You'll be able to try their recipes, too, as all of their entries will be appearing onboard their employing line's vessels this year. Aside from the "grand prize" winners, look for the following treats on these fleets:
Royal Caribbean: Mediterranean Blossom, Angel's Touch, Raspberry Chocolate Martini
Princess: Goat Cheese and Apple Soup with Grape Tempura, Cucumber Martini
Carnival: Cumin Crusted Conch with BACARDI® Mojito Essence, Herb Crusted DRAMBUIE® Soaked Tenderloin with Morel Mushroom Sauce, Cozumel
--by Melissa Baldwin, Managing Editor