May 19, 2009 / 2:41 PM / 10 years ago

Sodamin navigates elegant ocean dining

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Millions of cruise passengers around the world have tasted Rudi Sodamin’s delicious and eclectic cuisine.

Consulting master chef for Holland America Line, Rudi Sodamin, poses in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Ruzzoli International Publications/Handout

Since 2004, the 50-year-old Austrian native has been the consulting master chef for Holland America Line, which carries more than 600,000 passengers every year.

Sodamin, now based in Coral Gables, Florida, is also an author whose latest book “A Taste of Elegance” was published earlier this year.

He spoke to Reuters about cruise dining and being the leading chef on the seven seas.

Q: Describe your experience working with different cruise lines.

A: “I see a deep contrast between cruise lines in the variance of expertise in personnel and training ... Presenting food with elegance, simplicity and quality are my hallmarks. I want our food to consist of only the very best ingredients, and I want it to stimulate the senses and nourish the soul of our guests.”

Q: How do you compare cruise dining with land dining?

A: “There is not a land-based restaurant in the world that could change the menu daily for seven days, 14 days and so on. Just think about a land-based restaurant that has a seasonal menu and with sometimes daily specials. We change everything every day. I’ve always said that no land-based restaurant could feed the amount of people each day that we do.”

Q: What is your signature dish?

A: “Perhaps my best known signature dish is Rudi’s Chocolate Chef’s Hat, a delightful deep chocolate mousse.”

Q: What do you cook for yourself when you are alone?

A: “It varies depending on the mood I’m in. I can enjoy a simple dish of comfort food, a simple tossed salad with cheese and wine with a fresh loaf of bread. A good NY Steak on the grill. seasoned with olive oil, garlic and herbs and salt works for me.”


Grilled Salmon with Ginger-Cilantro Pesto on Sauteed Greens (4 servings)

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and light green parts only, plus 1 extra scallion thinly sliced (for garnish)

1/3 cup salted roasted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

1/4 cup chopped peeled fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

7 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 (6-ounce) salmon steaks or fillets, 1-inch thick

1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 bunches arugula or 3 bunches watercress, coarse stems discarded and the greens rinsed but not spun dry

1. To make the pesto, combine the cilantro, 1/3 cup scallions, macadamia nuts, ginger, and cayenne in a food processor. Blend until the nuts are finely chopped. While processing, slowly add 6 tablespoons vegetable oil until the mixture is well blended. Season with salt and pepper. (The pesto can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)

2. Heat a grill (charcoal, gas, or electric) to medium-high heat. Brush the salmon with the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the salmon on an oiled rack until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. (Alternatively, you can cook the fish in a large, hot grill pan over moderately high heat or under a preheated broiler until opaque in the center, about 4 minutes per side.)

Consulting master chef for Holland America Line, Rudi Sodamin, poses in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Ruzzoli International Publications/Handout

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet saute the garlic in the olive oil over moderately high heat for 30 seconds, or until it is fragrant. Add the arugula and stir the mixture until it is well combined. Cook, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the greens are just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Put the sauteed greens in the center of serving plates. Top with the salmon, pesto, and sliced scallion and serve immediately.

Serve with white or basmati rice and lemon wedges.

Reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Patricia Reaney

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