March 7, 2019
Cruise line Crystal is leading with food in a new series that takes consumers around the world through local tastes.
The hospitality company has teamed up with celebrity chef Jon Ashton on a 12-part video series that ventures to destinations served by Crystal Serenity. This culinary exploration has inspired dishes served on-board the ship, but it also allows consumers to experience dining Crystal-style from any location.
"Food, and all the traditions that surround it, is one of the most enjoyable ways to explore the world," said Toni Neumeister, senior vice president of hotel operations at Crystal.
"When traveling, one of the first things people seek out are the signature dishes of a place – strudel in Austria, tapas in Spain, the best coffee in Amsterdam," he said. "The experience of food is equally important. How do people dine? What are the traditional ingredients and preparation techniques? It all culminates in a deeper understanding of the culture.
"Crystal has always showcased the art of cuisine and dining in the destinations we explore aboard our ships, and the video series adds a new layer to this. Viewers can explore the destinations’ cuisine through the eyes of chef Jon Ashton and our own incredible chefs, then see it translated back aboard the ship."
“Crystal Cruises Presents: A Culinary Journey Hosted by Jon Ashton” is produced by Jon Ashton Productions.
Mr. Ashton has been featured on television during segments on NBC’s “Today Show” and “The Tonight Show.” He also has an existing relationship with Crystal, having participated in the company’s Wine & Food Festival voyages for the last 12 years.
Crystal’s series kicked off with a trip to Los Angeles. Mr. Ashton is joined by his friend chef Katsuji Tanabe, and together they go in search of the best “humble tacos” at spots including food trucks and holes in the wall.
The first place they go is a family-run taco joint that features no signage, relying on word of mouth. While hidden from those who are not in-the-know, the taqueria is said to run out every day.
Here, the duo taste carnitas that feature a whole chili pepper.
Up next is Guerilla Tacos, which reflects the many cultural influences of Los Angeles in its tacos.
From there, Mr. Ashton ventures solo to Tacos Leo, which operates at a gas station.
Crystal Cruises' A Culinary Journey Hosted by Jon Ashton
Using the influence from his taco scouting mission, Mr. Ashton then goes on to collaborate with Crystal’s chefs to make a dish for Serenity’s Waterside restaurant based on the taco. The resulting recipe is a deconstructed taco with pineapple pico de gallo, a tomatillo and almond sauce, kombu-cured Hamachi, an avocado puree and a tortilla infusion.
Future episodes will travel to destinations such as Samoa, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
Crystal is debuting new chapters of the series two times a month on both its Crystal Insider blog and YouTube channel.
"This series is designed to inspire travelers, taking viewers from wherever they are in the world into the heart of the destinations, so they can virtually explore the cuisines there," Mr. Neumeister said. "It’s simultaneously appetizing and wanderlust-inspiring."
Crystal previously explored the personal side of travel in a multichannel campaign that highlights how guests make each experience their own.
As high-end hospitality brands continue to emphasize experiences over amenities, Crystal is wagering that focusing on both its travelers and crew will set it apart from other cruise lines. Crystal also leverages user-generated content in the campaign for an added personal touch (see story).
Crystal Cruises previously capitalized on the popularity of experiential travel with a special culinary immersion program at sea.
The cruise line worked with acclaimed chef Nobu Matsuhisa to create a one-of-a-kind cruising experience. The voyage sailed from Stockholm to London as the “Baltic Bliss” trip with special menus curated by the chef along with a series of other activities (see story).
"The culinary offerings aboard Crystal ships have always been an integral part of the onboard experience, the way that food itself is an integral part of truly experiencing a destination," Mr. Neumeister said. "Because of this, we use fresh and local ingredients and the selections on our ships reflect the flavors of the world, and the dining venues are designed to foster that type of connection between guests – elegant but not stuffy or pretentious and with the kind of warmth that one would find at a private dining table.
"The new video series highlights the spirit of authenticity with which Crystal has always approached our culinary experience," he said. "Our dining venues offer a true taste of the world, with dishes prepared traditionally and with modern flair.
"The series is an extension of our commitment to conveying the spirit of the places we visit through incredible cuisine."