It happens once in a lifetime if you are lucky.
You receive an invitation to a private cooking class, just not any ordinary class, but a Celebrity Cruises gourmet white truffle feast led by John Suley, one of the premiere chefs in the industry. As the cruise line’s Executive Chef, Suley just pulled off the ultimate coup in the world of grand cuisine. He competed with Michelin star restaurateurs, gourmands, and truffle connoisseurs.
In an unprecedented food event, he and the Celebrity Cruises team (as the only representative of the cruise world) bid and won the infamous World White Truffle Charity Auction held in Alba, Italy. It was held at the 14th century castle of Grinzand Cavour with previous satellite locations in Hong Kong, Moscow, London and Tokyo.
Shortly afterwards, the invitation-only media luncheon and cooking class evolved over 3,000 miles away in a tony Soho New York test kitchen and private dining room. What an afternoon to remember! Exquisite antiques, floral displays, white linens and views that only the City could offer.. We were like kids in a candy store with privy to such gastronomical treats.
Suley, assisted by two colleagues, prepared a meal that could outweigh any fine dining New York City restaurant. After all, the white truffle is considered the diamond of the kitchen. Timed to perfection, a similar meal was served on The Celebrity Equinox during the truffle season.
We began our group lesson at the kitchen countertop and listened to explanations on how each portion of the meal was prepared, especially with shaving of fungi over the dishes. After a short video about the history of the white truffle, the media joined a table that could have been set for royalty. We continued what some termed as The Last Supper with more recipes, delicious tastes and great vino.
Menu items were selected according to their earthy qualities, rich or decadent, something to represent luxury. This included crostini with truffle butter and Taleggio cheese, white truffle risotto, whipped ricotta and truffle honey, artichoke salad with Buratta, cauliflower soup with Pancetta (both shaved with truffle) tender braised veal cheeks and white truffle laced olive oil sponge cake with ricotta. Lemoncello was in there somewhere!
John Suley is a man with an impressive resume and great cred. He’s a former James Beard Foundation scholar. It’s no accident that he leads 3,000 chefs at Celebrity Cruises where all meals are made from scratch. We can vouch for its innovative and edgy cuisine from a non-truffle lunch (on another occasion) on the ship before it left its San Diego port.
The group, who were strangers to start, broke bread and bonded over a Twitter hashtag from the day, “KeepOnTruffling!”
About Sue Facter
Sue Facter is a lifestyle journalist who specializes in travel, entertainment and beauty luxury brands. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Tolucan Times, TV Guide and Women’s Day Australia, as well as on broadcasts and the web.