Slideshow: Allure of the Seas' Winning Chef

August 9, 2010

(11:30 p.m. EDT) -- Royal Caribbean raised some eyebrows when it hired an up-and-coming chef to run the chicest restaurant aboard Oasis of the Seas -- 150 Central Park. A year later, the line stands by its strategy, maintaining that a big celebrity simply sweeps in, creates a menu and leaves whereas its passengers want to see the chef out in the dining room, greeting them and putting a face on the food.

And who could blame them? The service fee, $35, is the highest in the cruise industry. Yet on a recent cruise, people were begging for reservations and a chance to sample the upscale tasting menu.

For Allure of the Seas, Oasis' sister ship due out this December, the cruise line took its search for young talent a step further by partnering with the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) for a Food Network-style competition. The basic premise: Pit recent cooking school grads against each other to compete for a grand prize of a one-year contract as Chef de Cuisine for the 150 Central Park eatery aboard Allure.

What was the competition like -- and who got the job? Cruise Critic was on hand at the CIA this past weekend for the cook-off and judging. Find out who won in our slideshow -- and don't miss the surprise twist ending!

--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor