This week Holland America Line (HAL) announced it'd be turning the heat up on it's culinary programming via a new partnership with National Public Radio's (NPR) program, "America's Test Kitchen". The long running television and radio show filmed in Boston, MA has a team that tests and tweaks recipes to perfection, in a more scientific take on traditional cooking shows. They also try out various kitchen gadgets, appliances, and more.
HAL's shipboard Culinary Arts Centers will be redesigned to look like the television set/kitchen prominent on America's Test Kitchen TV show, which is shown on over 350 stations in the US. In these spaces, Holland America Line chefs, in cooperation with America's Test Kitchen experts, will host 45-minute on-board cooking demonstrations and workshops. Some of the courses in development include Asian Dumplings, Salad for Two, We Love Chocolate, Everything Salmon, Getting to Know Chiles, Flavors of the Mediterranean, Meatless Monday Meals and New Italian Favorites. Oh, and in case you had any doubt, there will be taste tests and sampling.
For guests wanting to dive a bit deeper, there will also be 90-minute workshops that focus on teaching a specific skill set. Currently, proposed workshops will include Perfect Pies and Handmade Pasta.
In addition to these live experiences, Holland America Line guests will have 24-hour access to America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country television programs on their in-room televisions. “America's Test Kitchen will bring a new take on cooking classes at sea that spans not only recipes but also the science of the cooking process. Its mission is to determine the best methods, ingredients and cooking tools — and now these discoveries will be shared with our guests,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “We provide our guests with tremendously immersive and authentic experiences to enrich their travel, and America’s Test Kitchen’s commitment to delivering a quality culinary experience with a focus on learning is a perfect match.”
America’s Test Kitchen demo courses and workshops will begin aboard ms Westerdam October 18 for the ship’s Mexico season and on ms Nieuw Amsterdam November 13 for the Caribbean season. The program is expected to roll out fleetwide by June 2017.
HAL has been a sponsor of the television show for some time, and is the host of the another popular NPR related event, the annual A Prairie Home Companion Cruise - a sailing I personally have not enjoyed missing out on.
Cooking classes and demonstrations aren't new to the world of cruising. From simple demonstrations in lounges to Oceania's innovative culinary centers with full kitchens, the basic idea seems time-tested. What is new here is the idea that these recipes are designed to be fool-proof, using accessible tools and ingredients, something guests can actually go home and make themselves, rather than watching a chef with 30 years of experience show the finesse required to make Crêpes Suzette. The association with a TV and radio program (and associated books) that shares key demographics with HAL's market can only help. We'll see if this take increases engagement and satisfies guests that are maybe looking for the easy way to good food - like myself, though I still find the main dining room even easier. Now, if you tell me that by showing up, I can take away some samples in a co-branded NPR-HAL tote bag, I'm in.
Are you looking forward to this new addition? Would it make you consider HAL if you would have otherwise sailed another line? Let us know in the comments below!