The celebrity chef shares his plans for bringing Australian truffles to the restaurant
Photo: Genting Dream
On a cruise ship, luxury runs through every fibre in the carpets and every spark in the enormous chandeliers. You get that and more on Genting Dream, which amps up your cruise holiday experience with a celebrity chef restaurant.
The luxury cruise ship from the Dream Cruises line has scored big by bringing onboard the acclaimed Australian chef Mark Best, well-known for his Sydney-based restaurant Marque, to launch his first-ever restaurant at sea – Bistro by Mark Best. Decked out in eccentric paintings and plush seating both indoors and outdoors, the restaurant makes for cosy and intimate dining with your partner, family and friends.
Photo: Genting Dream
When we tucked into the delicious meal whipped up by Chef Best and his team, it didn’t take us long to put together the significance of the menu. From the kingfish seasoned with lime and kiwi fruit ceviche, to the lobster rendang, to the black cod poached with olives, we explored the gastronomic treasures of sea that surrounded us on the ship.
Lobster Rendang with Leek and Potato (Photo: Weekender)
Much like the open sea, Chef Best’s Bistro knows no boundaries in their culinary innovations. Besides the creative mix of zesty and savoury seasonings, they surprised us by starting with foie gras canapes and finishing off with the locally-inspired pandan ice-cream.
Pandan Ice-cream, Mango & Anzac Biscuit (Photo: Weekender)
Chef Best isn’t done with spicing up his unique culinary concept. Having recently returned from two truffle expeditions in Australia, he’s treating diners to special creations inspired by the exquisite fungus. We chat with Chef Best about Australian truffles and his thoughts on running a restaurant out at sea.
What made you decide to go on two truffle expeditions? What interests you about truffles, both to cook and eat?
Truffle is a wonderfully evocative product and something we chefs really look forward to every year. Their elusive nature and short season makes a compelling mix. We always crave what we cant have! I love the fact that I can use an Australian truffle now. It seamed pointless to use an imported product. I love cooking them. The price would suggest you are preparing black gold but really they are just a mushroom that decided to grow underground. I love to use them generously and they go with anything that you would cook with mushrooms. Of course I also use them in a unique style. One of my famous dishes is ‘Caramelised Pineapple with Sichuan Pepper and Truffle Ice Cream’. That may sound weird however the combination is intoxicating. I loved visiting the growers in Manjimup WA (during the Truffle Kerfuffle festival) and also the Tamar Valley which is near Launceston in the North of Tasmania. Both places are incredibly beautiful and it is wonderful to see them diversifying into this incredible product.
Was there anything you learned about Australian truffles that surprised you? How do they compare to European truffles?
I think they confirm very well to European truffles. The point is though that their is never a direct comparison as they grow at opposite times of the year. I think they are completely validated by the fact that the best restaurants in the Northern hemisphere are buying all that Australia can produce. A fun fact is that Australia is close to surpassing France in total production. That surprised me.
Will you be using truffles in your menus here at Genting Dream?
We currently have one kilogram of the last of season 2018 onboard. I have created a truffle menu for our exclusive Vintage Room concept onboard. Places and truffles are limited!
How is it like to run a restaurant on a luxury ship? How does it compare to running regular restaurants?
It is one of the highlights of my professional career. I am running a beautiful restaurant with beautiful produce and a wonderful team. The fact that my view changes constantly is the ice cream on the cake. It is different to running a normal restaurant. No better or worse. You just have to be more organised.
What do you have planned for the restaurant?
I’m really proud of our customer enrichment programs we have commenced. Visits to the wet markets in Phuket followed by cooking lessons on Thai cuisine and then lunch is one of the initiatives. I also teach our passengers how to cook my signature dishes like the ‘Murray Cod Three Rivers’. I’m very happy to share my secrets with them.
Marina Bay Cruise Centre, 61 Marina Coastal Drive, Singapore 018947