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Q&A With Award-Winning Master Chef Rudi Sodamin

Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin recently has been honored by two esteemed organizations. He was awarded Austria’s prestigious Golden Cloche, and the Master Chef’s Table earned the Editor-in-Chief Award for “Best Dining Experience at Sea” from Porthole Cruise Magazine.

While the Golden Cloche might be an unfamiliar honor in the States, in Austria only the finest native chefs earn the accolade. In cooperation with The Austrian Cooks’ Association, Gastronomy Club Wien honored Sodamin with the Golden Cloche during the Gala Night of Gastronomy 2014 at the Orangery in Vienna March 7.

Sodamin remarked that he was "pleased with this beautiful award from my home country."

Sodamin remarked that he was “pleased with this beautiful award from my home country.”

“Rudi Sodamin has well and truly earned his Golden Cloche award,” said Walter Piller, Honorary Chairman of Gastronomy Vienna/Chamber of commerce Vienna. “Rudi is known for his culinary commitment. He made cruise cuisine fashionable and became a mentor for many young chefs.”

The Master Chef’s Table also was honored recently with the Editor-in-Chief Award for Best Dining Experience from Porthole Cruise Magazine.

Rudi, right, receiving the award from Porthole's Editor-in-Chief Bill Panoff.

Rudi, right, receiving the award from Porthole’s Editor-in-Chief Bill Panoff.

“The Master Chef’s Table is the highest quality culinary experience you’ll find on land or at sea, so it was easy for me to give it such distinguished recognition,” said Porthole’s Editor-in-Chief Bill Panoff. “Rudi continues to transform the dining offerings onboard Holland America Line ships, and his knowledge and talent ensure that every dining experience is going to be memorable.”

How did Rudi get to where he is today and what shaped his career? This fun Question & Answer session opens the door to Rudi’s world and gives you deeper insight to Holland America Line’s master chef.

1. What has been your career path?
My successful career path spans many years – from an apprenticeship in Austria to work in Germany, the United States, Japan, France and Switzerland. I was the youngest chef (at 23 years old) onboard Vistafjord, followed by the youngest chef (at 25 years old) onboard QE2 and Cunard Line’s fleet of 12 ships (including Sea Goodness.) This was followed by positions such as corporate chef and vice president, where I was awarded with the industry’s highest awards and accolades. I consider being the Consulting Master Chef for Holland America Line as the peak of my career. I am proud of my years of service and my unblemished career of hard work and dedication.

2. Why did you become a chef?
My mother was a chef. I was always intrigued by food and its chemistry and creative possibility.

3. As a child did you enjoy trying new foods or were you a picky eater?
When I was only 5 years old I was dressing in a cook’s uniform. I often worked in my mother’s kitchen. As far as being a picky eater? Never! I enjoyed the texture of food and I loved to eat. I was very curious about how things were composed, which ingredients were used and where they came from. The outcome of a recipe was always interesting to me.

4. Who are your biggest culinary influences?
I would say my mother and Frédy Girardet aus Lausanne, who influenced me with his style of cooking while I was working in Switzerland. I also think I have learned a lot and have been influenced culturally by my many travels throughout the world.

5. What are five main cooking staples that everyone should have in their home kitchen?
Milk, bread, butter, flour, eggs … and a good bottle of wine.

6. If you were dining in the Pinnacle Grill, what five people would you invite to your table?
Micky and Madeleine Arison, Bill and Melinda Gates and Oprah Winfrey.

7. If you were having a dinner party for friends, what would be the menu?
Goose Liver Sandwich, Beef Tartar with Caviar, Beef Tenderloin in Sea Salt Crust, Crusted Tuna, Homemade Ice Cream, Salzburger Nockerl, and plenty of good wine and artisan cheese.

Rudi with 3-Star Michelin Chef Heinz Reitbauer, a previous Golden Cloche winner. Rudi recently was at Reitbauer's Restaurant Steirereck (ranked #9 in the world) for a culinary exchange of ideas.

Rudi with 3-Star Michelin Chef Heinz Reitbauer, a previous Golden Cloche winner. Rudi recently was at Reitbauer’s Restaurant Steirereck (ranked #9 in the world) for a culinary exchange of ideas.

8. What destination should every foodie visit to experience the local cuisine?
Go into a local restaurant that is not ‘rated,’ where the locals eat. Perhaps one in a local vegetable and fish market. Try to experience their ingredients and read a book about the culture/food before you visit the area.

9. What is your favorite red wine? And white wine?
Several Silverado Vintage Wines from Napa, or from the Betz Winery. Also Bordeaux-inspired wines. As with all chefs, I love good wine.

10. Are there any particular tools or gadgets used in a shipboard galley that aren’t found in a shoreside kitchen?
No, good culinary ingredients and practices are the same at sea and on shore.

11. How to you tailor a recipe to feed 2,000 guests?
Good question, because it’s not always as simple as one would think. A recipe is a guideline – a process and a testing of the products. You can’t multiply salt, for example. Instructions are important as well. People who execute a change in the number of serving portions must understand the taste profile and know what outcome they wish to achieve.

12. What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t a chef?
Something creative such as chief creative marketing officer, or a design or fashion photographer.

Rudi’s ideas have been instrumental in the development of Holland America Line’s interactive culinary arts program on board, and he’s the chairman of the Culinary Council, which is composed of international chefs Mark Best, Jonnie Boer, David Burke, Elizabeth Falkner and Jacques Torres.

Rudi’s many accolades include a rating of 17 (out of 20) and Three Toques from the prestigious Gault-Millau Guide, the first for an onboard restaurant (the only such award ever presented at sea). Sodamin belongs to the prestigious Academy Culinaire de France, the Maîtres Cuisiners de France and is an honorary member of the noble Club des Chefs des Chefs whose members cook for presidents, kings and prime ministers.

What questions would you like to ask Rudi? Put them in the comments below!

  • steve jacobson

    Two things I miss at breakfast. Creamed chip beef and real corned beef hash. The hash served tastes more like sloppy joes than corned beef. I wish you would change that recipe so it’s just corned beef, potatoes and onions. No tomato sauce. Thanks. I am a 4 star and have another cruise booke . I am happy to see that caviar is now being served in the Pinnacle. I hope that they will add it to the room service menu sometime soon.

  • dr jacob bijl

    dear hal line

    wij hebben een fijne 5 maanden cruise in zuid oost azie gehad dankzij
    jason, marleen, james, jeroen en vele anderen op de ms volendam

    dr jacob bijl sr/jr

  • dr jacob bijl

    we have had a wonderful time from sept 2013-2014 on the volendam

    thanks to jason, marleen, jeroen en james

    dr jacob bijl sr/jr

  • Stacy

    recently onboard Ms. Nordham and must find the two tiered silver sugar set used in the pinnacle grill. It had a small silver plate on top then the bottom was little glass cups in silver coasters used for cream/sugar etc. I’ve searched the web high and low and cannot find – please tell me where I can get one.
    BTW- celebrated my birthday onboard at Pinnacle grill- best meal ever!!!!

  • Thelma Smyth

    My husband and myself just enjoyed the 14 day cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, it was the best
    that we have ever enjoyed. the food was fab. I really enjoyed the chardonnay wine by gooseridge
    vineyards recommended by chef Rudi, where can I buy this in Canada, we live in Lethbridge,
    Alberta, again many thanks for a wonderful cruise.
    Thelma and Ivan Smyth

  • Shannon

    Hello Thelma,

    We’re glad to hear you enjoyed Chef’s recommendation! Follow this link for more information on wine sellers in your area.



  • Richard Joy

    Just finished fantastic Alaskan cruise. Tasted Rudi Sodomin Balsamic Vinegar. Is there a way to purchase a bottle?? Best Balsamic Vinegar I have ever had.

  • Ermo Bartoletti

    My wife and I were on a cruise in October, 2014 to the Panama Cannel and at one of the restaurants and had the best Balsamic Vinegar with your name on the bottle.
    We enjoyed it so much and wanted to buy a bottle, but we have been unable to find a sale outlet, can you help.


  • marilyn heiner

    Where can I purchase the Rudi Sodamin Balsamic Vinegar? MUST have it!

  • Clementina Guinto Madayag

    Dear Sir Master Chef Rudi Sodamin;
    Your profile and story is very interesting and how you became a master chef is trully inspiring. Who you ae now is a destiny. You are one of a kind. I am a Filipino cook myself and been my dream to work in the kitchen where kings and queens live. But it remained a dream that never came true. I love reading the updates about you and your featured recipes because it inspires anyone who have passion in cooking. The young chefs on cruise HAL are lucky to have you as their mentor. I salute a Golden Cloche Awardee!


    Clementina Guinto Madayag

  • Sheila templin

    Holiday cruise on the zuiderdam. Enjoyed meal in specialty Italian restaurant and loved chefs balsamic vinegar. Where can I buy it?

  • Julie

    Glad you enjoyed Canaletto! Please email for information. We do not believe it is available at this time but they will have confirmation.

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