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Holland America Line Announces New Focus for Culinary Council and Wine Curator Partnership

Holland America Line revealed exciting initiatives that include a new focus for its award-winning Culinary Council, the addition of a Culinary Council member and a new partnership with the world’s most famous wine critic.

Holland America Line is cultivating the expertise of the seven members of its award-winning Culinary Council by entrusting each chef with a designated onboard dining experience to enhance and elevate. The Culinary Council comprises a collection of elite international celebrity chefs who bring global influence to every dining venue across the fleet.


The Culinary Council is led by Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, who is joined by international chefs Jonnie Boer, David Burke, Elizabeth Falkner, Ethan Stowell and Jacques Torres. Holland America Line announced that it’s elevating the role of sushi chef Andy Matsuda and adding him to the Culinary Council.

Holland America Line also announced a collaboration with wine critic James Suckling to curate its wine lists. The cruise line currently also works with master mixologist Dale DeGroff on its cocktail program.

“Holland America Line’s Culinary Council is made up of some of the world’s leading food authorities who have a tremendous amount of talent and knowledge, and the most profound way for us to use their expertise is to have them focus on their specialties throughout our different dining experiences,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Culinary partners often only influence one restaurant or one area, but having seven world-class chefs enables us to cover our entire dining program and utilize their collective passion and creativity so all guests can enjoy their cuisine.”

Rudi Sodamin, Master Chef and Culinary Council Chairman

Sodamin oversees all aspects of onboard dining, in addition to bringing his influence and expertise to Rudi’s Sel de Mer. The popular French brasserie is a standalone venue on Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam and is featured on other ships through special pop-up dinners in the Pinnacle Grill. Sodamin was born in Austria and trained in France. He recently released his latest culinary masterpiece, an art table book called “Food Faces” that features more than 150 vibrant images of edible creations that display a whimsical spectrum of human emotion. His innovative approach has made him the most decorated chef on the world’s oceans.

Jonnie Boer Offers a Taste of De Librije
Jonnie Boer

Jonnie Boer will bring the flavors of his internationally acclaimed restaurant, De Librije, on board select sailings through special Taste of De Librije evenings in the Pinnacle Grill. Dutch-born Jonnie Boer is the driving force behind De Librije, a regional, fine-dining restaurant in the Netherlands. Recognized as one of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, De Librije has earned a three-star Michelin rating every year since 2004.

David Burke Influences the Pinnacle Grill Menu

A leading pioneer of unique, contemporary American cuisine and a master of French culinary technique, Burke will continue to enhance the menu at the Pinnacle Grill, adding contemporary flavors and new signature recipes. Burke partnered with Smith & Wollensky CEO Alan Stillman to open the critically acclaimed Park Avenue Café, and then, in 1996, he became vice president of culinary development for the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group. Burke is a restaurateur, cookbook author, inventor and consultant at ESquared Hospitality, which owns and operates the BLT restaurant brand. He has been featured on “Iron Chef America” and “Top Chef Masters.”

Elizabeth Falkner Introduces Lighter Fare

At the forefront of the culinary arts and a recurring judge and competitor on the Food Network, Falkner will be introducing a variety of new, lighter fare to venues across the fleet. Frequently interviewed and quoted on healthy cuisine and eating habits, she is an advocate for people and chefs to think more like athletes and “stay fit to cook.” Falkner does both savory and sweet, traditional and modern and has earned accolades for her ground-breaking San Francisco, California, shop, Citizen Cake.

Andy Matsuda Brings Top Sushi Trends and Techniques

The newest member of the Culinary Council, Matsuda will lead sushi offerings in Lido Market as well as the sushi menu available in Tamarind on select ships. Aboard Nieuw Statendam, Matsuda’s creations will be featured at Nami Sushi, the new sushi bar inside Tamarind. The Japanese-born chef is at the forefront of sushi trends and techniques. At Matsuda’s Sushi Chef Institute in Los Angeles, California, he teaches aspiring chefs and professionals about sushi and Japanese cuisine.

Ethan Stowell Celebrates the Flavors of the Pacific Northwest

A recent addition to the Culinary Council, Stowell will bring the unique flavors of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest on board ships sailing in the region. Also known for his pasta and Italian dishes, Stowell will introduce several of his recipes at New York Pizza and select Lido Market stations on all ships. With an impressive roster of highly acclaimed restaurants, Stowell has helped to change the face of the Seattle food scene. He was named one of the Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine magazine in 2008 and chosen as one of the Best New Chef All-Stars in 2013.

Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Confections Are a Sweet Indulgence

A world-renowned chocolatier known as Mr. Chocolate, Torres will guide masterful chocolate desserts for Holland America Line’s dining venues, as well as the Chocolate Surprise Dessert Parade featured on the last gala evening of every cruise. A French-trained Master Chef and artisan chocolatier, Torres is a James Beard Award recipient. After rising to executive pastry chef at New York’s legendary Le Cirque, he opened a chocolate factory and stores throughout New York. Torres is co-hosting and head judge on the new Netflix culinary show “Nailed It” with Nicole Byer. Debuting March 9, the reality contest program pits home bakers against one another attempting to recreate edible masterpieces.

Whose dishes are you most excited to sample? The good news … you can try them all on your next Holland America Line cruise!

  • Brian Wickens

    We just completed a week long cruise to the Western Caribbean on HAL’s Nieuw Amsterdam (February 24 to March 03, 2018) and had the distinct pleasure of enjoying the varied and fantastic menus created by HAL Culinary Council chefs every night of our trip in the ship’s Main Dining Room.

    The mention of the the various chef’s, their biographies, custom nightly menu’s and recommended feature selections was a noted surprise and key points of reading interest when presented with each new menu.

    Each night the selection and variety of choices was wonderful, offering something for any taste, particular palette, or dietary restriction – and without any repeated offering for the entire week.

    And as usual for our numerous and purposely repeat trips with HAL, the artfully presentations, quality of food, wide variety of flavor notes, and cooked to individual taste perfection for every single meal….was superb!

    Thus, why we – and so many others – feel HAL consistently offers the best menus and best food of any cruise ship line.

    Keep up the innovation with the Culinary Council – and the great work!!!

  • Bill

    So these changes are already in effect on the ships? Are there revised menus available for viewing online? We will be on Koningsdam for 2 weeks in June and would love to have updated menus and especially upgraded sushi at the Lido. We enjoyed the food on Eurodam last year.

  • Betty H Ganung

    HAL my favoirite cruise line but its been a long time. Since my husband died can’t pay for 2! No single rooms on HAL.

  • Julie

    Betty, we do have staterppms for singles on select ships. Both Koningsdam and Prinsendam have single staterooms, so please take a look and join us again!

  • Julie

    Hi Bill, this new program is rolling out over the next six months. However, Andy has been working with Holland America Line for some time so you should be able to enjoy delicious sushi in the Lido. And if you go to Tamarind you can try his specialty rolls at the sushi bar!

  • Bill

    I understand that Andy is going to be on Koningsdam the week before our cruise (unfortunately we are missing him), so hopefully he will step things up there. The sushi in Lido was OK on Eurodam last year but could certainly use an upgrade. That said, it’s nice to have a free sushi option. Celebrity got rid of theirs when they opened their pay sushi venue. I always used to go to their buffet for a pre-dinner snack on their ships.

  • Daan Polk

    Mark Best left?

  • Julie

    Mark is no longer part of the Culinary Council.

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