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.
“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.
“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.
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!