Food Network's "Dinner: Impossible" Goes Cruising

January 17, 2008

"Dinner: Impossible," the Food Network's "secret mission" show in which chef and host Robert Irvine is asked to create a culinary spread in a surprise location on a tight schedule, has joined the ranks of the many television shows that have taken to the high seas (such as "America's Next Top Model," "Good Morning America" and "Live with Regis and Kelly").

This week's episode, "Cruise Against the Clock," which aired for the first time last night, was filmed during the 2007 Alaska season on Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess. Chef Irvine's mission was to board the ship in Ketchikan while passengers were spending their day ashore and create a buffet of hors d'oeuvres for the evening's sailaway party -- 15,000 snacks for 2,743 people in just 7 1/2 hours.

The challenge, of course, is that a cruise ship galley is a vastly different working environment than a typical kitchen. On this ship, for example, food is cooked on Deck 5, stored on Deck 4 and cleaned on Deck 3! Luckily, Chef Irvine knew what to expect as he began his culinary career at sea -- cooking for the Royal Navy -- and for a time was actually an executive chef onboard cruise ships (on his resume are Norwegian Crown and Crystal Harmony).

Sapphire Princess' Master Corporate Chef Alfredo Marzi led Chef Irvine and Sapphire's culinary staffers in creating over a dozen unique hors d'oeuvres using regional ingredients, including an Indian-spiced pizza with local mushrooms; fresh salmon cakes; and lentil soup with reindeer sausage.

Fans of the show will know that Chef Irvine runs a tight ship (pun intended). But while there were some tense moments -- "How can I fry 5,000 items with only two working deep fryers?" -- the only tears shed were those of a grateful kitchen staffer to whom Chef Irvine gifted his personal set of knives.

Was Chef Irvine able to complete his challenge on time? We won't spoil all of the surprises. "Cruise Against the Clock" will air again on the Food Network on January 26 at 3 p.m. EST, so set your TiVo's!

--by Melissa Baldwin, Managing Editor