(12 p.m. EST) – For the first time, Holland America Line is a sponsor of the upcoming season 21 of Bravo’s Top Chef, with the penultimate elimination challenge between final four “cheftestants” filmed onboard, as well as the finale.
The challenge, which ties into the cruise line’s Global Fresh Fish Program, was shot onboard Eurodam when the ship was in Curacao in November 2023. (Cruise Critic was present at the filming and will have more details soon!)
During the filming in Curacao, the final four chefs had one last Quickfire challenge before moving on to their last Elimination Challenge.
For that last challenge, the competitors prepared an eight-course fish tasting menu for the judges, with the winner moving on to the finale (and also earning a $10,000 cash prize and a 10-day HAL cruise).
The episode features Chef Masaharu Morimoto, who is Holland America’s Fresh Fish Ambassador. Besides his world-famous reputation as a restaurateur, Morimoto is no stranger to food TV; he’s a former Iron Chef on both the Japanese and U.S. versions of that show and also appeared on Top Chef and Masterchef.
The finale was also filmed onboard. For the final meal, the last three chefs must cook the "best four-course meal of their lives" for the judges and a table of experts.
While this is the first time that HAL has sponsored Top Chef, the line has had tie-ins with chefs from the Bravo show before. Kristen Kish, a Top Chef winner and now the host of the show, was part of the line’s Culinary Council, with her dishes appearing in the main dining room and also at the Pinnacle Gala in the Pinnacle Grill.
Although the media landscape is littered with food reality shows, Top Chef has remained one of the best, primarily because it continues to launch the careers of many chefs who go on to win James Beard awards, or become famous on other platforms.
Hosting an elimination challenge on the show will certainly bring attention to Holland America, which has centered its latest culinary initiative around seafood. Announced in September 2023, the Global Fresh Fish Initiative focuses on seafood that’s sourced from 60 ports worldwide. The line’s fleet will serve 80 types of fresh fish onboard, with the mantra “port to plate” in less than 48 hours.
In his role as Fresh Fish Ambassador, Morimoto has contributed to the HAL dining experience in several different ways. First, he has developed signature seafood dishes that are served in the ship’s main dining rooms for an extra fee, such as Fresh Black Cod Yuzu, Morimoto Epice Lobster Tails and Fresh Halibut XO.
Second, a dining experience called Morimoto By Sea is being rolled out to the fleet, as a standalone restaurant on Nieuw Amsterdam and as a pop-up restaurant on other ships, offered at least once per cruise in either Tamarind or the Pinnacle Grill by summer.
The multi-course dinner costs $55 per person, has dishes such as Morimoto Fresh Tuna Pizza, Angry Lobster Pad Thai, Ishiyaki Buri Bop and Tofu Cheesecake. Accompanying cocktails designed by Morimoto include Morimoto Dream Brute Rose and Sake Junmai Morimoto, available for an extra fee.
“This sponsorship is another example of how Holland America is leading in the fresh fish space,” said Kacy Cole, chief marketing officer, Holland America Line. “We know when guests are at home they lean into fresh fish and seafood in their daily food purchases and restaurant choices, so we want to deliver that same fresh fish experience while onboard.”
Season 21 of Top Chef starts on Wednesday March 20 at 9 p.m. Eastern on Bravo, with streaming available on Peacock the next day.
Neither the network or the line has released the date when the two Eurodam episode will be shown, although it is likely to be sometime in June. Stay tuned for more details!