Silversea Cruises’s newest baby, Silver Nova, has many new features that will turn heads even among the cruise line’s most regular customers, but it is her first destination-focused Chef’s Table experience that will most likely leave the deepest impression
Silver Nova is the first in Silversea Cruises’s Nova Class to launch, and she has captured plenty of media attention. She is said to be the leisure cruise industry’s first to adopt an asymmetrical ship design, which grants her innovative use of spaces for guests; is the biggest vessel in the cruise line’s fleet; and is the first luxury liner to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the principle fuel source, allowing her to reduce carbon emissions by 40 per cent compared to her most advanced sister ships currently sailing, Silver Muse and Silver Moon.
Among Silver Nova’s many superlative highlights, I find the debut of S.A.L.T Chef’s Table the most impressive.
Before I get to the ‘why’, let me first tackle the ‘what’. S.A.L.T refers to Silversea Cruises’s signature dining programme, Sea And Land Taste, which showcases flavours of the destinations and region the ship calls at. It was conceived by Adam Sachs, former editor-in-chief of Saveur Magazine and who is now director of the programme. S.A.L.T is an exclusive programme, available only on Silver Moon, Silver Dawn, and now Silver Nova.
S.A.L.T, according to Sachs, is an “ecosystem” that comprises S.A.L.T shore excursions, which are in-depth tours led by food experts who delve into local culinary traditions; S.A.L.T onboard dining through S.A.L.T. Bar and Kitchen, where the menu changes with the ports of call and local recipes are made with local products; and S.A.L.T Lab, where small groups of guests can get hands-on experience of local recipes in a professional kitchen.
This ecosystem is expanded on Silver Nova, with the first-ever S.A.L.T Chef’s Table. This dinner experience is conducted in the same beautiful S.A.L.T Lab professional kitchen on deck 10, but for the S.A.L.T Chef’s Table 18 guests are seated around a U-shaped counter, all facing the chef duo who will perform delicious magic.
The convivial chefs take their time to introduce each of the small-plate dishes curated for the evening and the story behind the key local ingredient that makes up each dish. Guests see how each dish is put together and served, before savouring the creation.
I was fortunate to be among the first set of guests on Silver Nova’s exclusive Architectural Preview sailing on August 10 to experience S.A.L.T Chef’s Table.
We took three enjoyable hours to savour 11 beautifully-plated dishes that feature prized ingredients unique to the Mediterranean region where Silver Nova would be sailing for its maiden season. We started off with a refreshing Mazara red prawn crudo served in a gilded ‘oyster shell’. Soon after, we discovered how a unique rice grain accessible only to the Chinese emperor a long time ago was later crossed with a local Italian rice and became a popular summer dish ingredient – the black Venus rice came accompanied by tender monkfish and savoury chorizo crumbs. Many more memorable flavours surfaced through the evening, including a surprisingly comforting palate-cleanser cocktail made of boiled tomato juice and in a lovely golden hue.
I learnt that the S.A.L.T Chef’s Table was designed for just two hours or so, and the presentations during the trade- and media-only Architectural Preview would help the team sharpen the concept and delivery.
While cruises typically present opportunities for travellers to explore different ports and destinations, not everyone is able to make time for a memorable and authentic dining experience on shore. S.A.L.T Chef’s Table onboard ensures guests get a chance to appreciate the region thoroughly through food and flavours.
What I love most is that the S.A.L.T Chef’s Table experience is more than just a showcase of amazing flavours; it is also a wonderful opportunity to see how ingredients are used differently in other cultures and be inspired to try new ways of cooking back home, and for travellers to trade food stories and bond over their shared love for all things delicious.
Rate: $180 per person