Jamie Oliver, Devin Alexander, And Michael Schwartz Go Cruising: A New Ship Aims To Reinvent Food At Sea

by Epicurious Editors
Laura Begley Bloom on the newest on-board food trends.
"The average American gains six to ten pounds per week on a cruise," says The Biggest Loser chef Devin Alexander, who is planning to transform the waistlines of thousands of ocean-going diners with her new food concept for Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas. The over-the-top ship, which will set sail this fall, announced the news last night in New York at an equally over-the-top event, where diners sampled dishes like Sriracha eggs served in a plume of smoke.
Along with Devin's Devinly Decadence menu for the Solarium Bistro, where all dishes weigh in under 500 calories, Quantum will usher in a number of firsts at sea: the first American gastropub (from Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, in Miami, above), the first food truck (serving gourmet hot dogs), and the first maritime restaurant from Britain's bad boy of cooking, Jamie Oliver. The ship will also debut a revolutionary new concept called Wonderland, with avant-garde dishes (baby vegetables in a "garden" of soil and pebbles; caviar with arctic equator chocolate) and a Tim Burton-worthy design that includes levitating chairs.
In all, there will be a staggering 18 restaurants -- count 'em -- for 4,180 passengers.

Its all part of Royal Caribbean's plan to dominate the seas on this more-is-more ship, complete with sky diving, bumper cars, and a terrifying glassed-in pod that will whisk passengers 300 feet into the air. Quantum heralds a new era of "Quantum-class" ships for Royal Caribbean, with sister ship Anthem of the Seas to follow in spring 2015.
So just how does Alexander plan to entice cruise-ship passengers away from those notorious midnight buffets?

"I'm sticking to my signature style of guilt-free comfort food," Alexander says. "But this is the first time that it will be offered as a stand-alone restaurant concept." Get ready to get on the "Dev" plan, with the Little Dev -- a makeover of the beloved Big Mac -- the Devinly Delights Gooey Chocolate 100 Calorie Brownie, and Detox to Devinly juices and smoothies (including a low-cal chocolate peanut butter smoothie).
"I'm really excited about all the innovation aboard this ship," says Michael Schwartz, who is no stranger to Royal Caribbean. The Miami restaurateur partnered with the line in 2011 to open a farm-to-ship restaurant called 150 Central Park on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

"We're taking classic iconic snacks from our menu and bringing them to Quantum with a whole new concept," says Schwartz. Look for new spins on deviled eggs and crispy pig ears, along with bourbon flights and Schwartz's first ale: Michael's Home Brew.
Jamie Oliver's restaurant, Jamie's Italian, will serve the rustic-Italian cooking and homemade pastas -- truffle tagliatelle, zingy prawn linguine -- that have made him famous.

- Multi-course degustation menus and chef's tables are popping up everywhere from the Oceania Riviera, with its wine-pairing dinners in the 24-seat La Reserve, to The Regal Princess, which will launch in May with the private Chef's Table Lumiere, where a "curtain of light" surrounds diners.

- As cruise lines continue to put an emphasis on locavore cuisine, Crystal Cruises has redesigned the Crystal Serenity, adding "Living Walls" of greenery, including a fresh herb garden for chefs -- a first at sea. Carnival just launched American Table, with ingredients sourced in ports, such as a sweet-and-sour mango chutney from St. Thomas.

- And healthy and sustainable cuisine continues to take the spotlight. SeaDream Yacht Club has created raw food menus, while Holland America recently started a sustainable seafood program, developed in conjunction with Washington State-based Marine Conservation Institute.
A few other bites of cruise food news that we love:
- Celebrity Cruises also made waves in the cruise world yesterday with its own announcement: "Top Chef at Sea." The line will partner with Bravo to bring the show's former contestants aboard for cooking demos, interactive Quickfire Challenges, and (for a price) private cooking lessons. The first "Top Chef at Sea" cruise sets sail July 27 on the Celebrity Summit from New Jersey's Cape Liberty to Bermuda.