Windstar Cruises and the James Beard Foundation Partner for Exclusive Cruises

Seattle, WA — Culinary travel is sky-rocketing in popularity as cultural diversity and the appreciation for local food customs and heritage grows. Together, small ship cruise expert Windstar Cruises and formidable sustainable food advocate James Beard Foundation, are partnering to deliver culinary travel with a unique and comprehensive culinary pairing headlined by an annual series of culinary-themed cruises and enriching culinary programming on intriguing itineraries worldwide.

Culinary delights abound with the Windstar James Beard Foundation partnership. Credit: Windstar

“Our partnership with the James Beard Foundation is unique in travel as we host and collaborate with a host of accomplished chefs and beverage experts who have meaningful connections to the ports we visit,” commented Windstar President John Delaney. “Our collective goal is to deliver authentic experiences to meet, eat and drink with locals whose livelihood we celebrate, such as touring a local chocolate farm in Costa Rica, a Caribbean rum distillery, or small French winery or cheese factory.”

Windstar takes locally-inspired cuisine and cultural immersion seriously, with special programming and culinary-themed voyages designed to provide cruise guests plenty of opportunities for learning and personal interaction with food and beverage experts.

Windstar Guest Chef Andy Ricker of Pok Pok in Portland and Corporate Executive Chef Graeme Cockburn lead Chef Market Tour shopping local produce in Hoi An, Da Nang, Vietnam. Credit: Windstar

“Culinary traditions from around the world have an incredibly rich story to tell about the land and the people who live in a place. The James Beard Foundation is excited to continue our partnership with Windstar Cruises so the dynamic culinary community in America can help enrich this aspect of world exploration on these special cruises,” said Kris Moon, Chief Operating Officer of the James Beard Foundation.

The talented line-up culinary experts endorsed by the James Beard Foundation are chosen specifically to match their cuisine style and expertise with the intriguing small ports where Windstar sails. For example, Guest Chef Judy Ni, whose Taiwanese roots will help her guide cruisers through Asia this spring on the Pop Culture Kings of Asia. Similarly, regional wine experts will lead tastings and tours on a first-ever West Coast Epicurean Extravaganza sailing from Vancouver, BC to San Diego next fall.

As the Official Cruise Line of the James Beard Foundation, every single Windstar sailing includes cooking demonstrations and nightly dinner menu selections featuring recipes from a James Beard recognized chef who has sailed with Windstar; as well as optional chef market tours and more.

The following activities are included in each James Beard Foundation culinary-themed cruise:

  • Hosted dinner with James Beard Foundation chef and beverage expert, including wine pairings
  • Culinary Demonstrations by the chef of a selection of their recipes
  • Wine & Beverage Tasting & Notes Booklet tailored to the itinerary and JBF guest expert
  • Multiple wine, spirits, or beer tastings
  • A chance to mix and mingle with the guest chefs and beverage experts throughout the cruise
  • Depending on itinerary and chef/beverage expert availability:
    • Shopping at the local market with the chef
    • Tours with the sommelier/beverage expert (based on availability).

In 2019, the following featured chefs will share his or her passion for local cultures and the cuisine inspired by local ingredients visiting ports on five cruises in Europe, Asia, Central and North America:

February 16, 2019 – Costa Rica & Panama Canal, 7 days aboard Star Breeze
Chef Jamilka Borges
JBF: Chef Boot Camp Alumna & 2015 Rising Star Chef Semifinalist
Restaurant: Independent Brewing Company & Hidden Harbor in Pittsburgh, PA.

Chef Jamilka Borges, born in Puerto Rico, has a genuine connection to the region and will guide guests on a gastronomic journey through exotic Costa Rica and the Panama Canal that combines incredible food experiences with amazing natural and man-made wonders. Highlights include learning about the area from a local on board Naturalist; making a Zodiac wet-landing directly on the beach for a guided nature walk; hiking through Manuel Antonio National Park in search of abundant animal life; ziplining high above the Quepos jungle floor past monkeys, sloths, and toucans; exploring Golfo Dulce’s intense rainforest landscape; and enjoying  a narrated daylight transit through the massive Panama Canal, one of the world’s most stunning feats of engineering, on a small ship that gets you close to it all.

March 16, 2019 – Pop Culture Kings of Asia, 11 days aboard Star Legend 
Chef Judy Ni
JBF Chef Boot Camp Alumna
Restaurant: Baology in Philadelphia

Chef Judy Ni brings her experience of being raised by traditional Taiwanese parents (and grandparents), who passed on their culture and culinary traditions to her while growing up in the United States. Chef Ni will share her unique culinary and cultural perspective on this voyage of a lifetime through this crucial corner of Asia featuring Japan, China, and South Korea. Spend time in Kyoto, one of the most traditional cities in Japan, and admire the beautiful pottery of Karatsu. Overnight in Busan for more time to see the five UNESCO sites in the area. Cruise the Inland Sea, stopping for famed art pieces in Uno port, mixing equal parts pop culture and cultural heritage throughout the journey.

June 22, 2019 – Yachtsman’s Harbors of the Rivieras, 7 days aboard Wind Surf
Chef & Restaurateur Jamie Leeds
JBF Chef Boot Camp Alumna 
JL Restaurant Group; Hank’s Oyster Bar, Pasta Bar, & Cocktail Bar, Washington, DC

Chef and Restaurateur Jamie Leeds, owner of JL Restaurant Group, will be seeking out the freshest French oysters as she sails the world’s premier yachting playgrounds from Rome to Barcelona aboard the world’s largest sailing ship. These stunning ports string together like perfect pearls each shining with its own individuality. Enjoy charming villages with chef-led visits to lively markets to gather produce, herbs, fish and more to showcase in cooking demonstrations and a gala evening meal. Sailing into secluded harbors to intimate beaches delivers the mystique and magic of the Rivieras that only small ship cruising reveals.

September 24, 2019 – West Coast Epicurean Extravaganza, 10 days aboard Star Legend 
Chef Duskie Estes
JBF: Chef Boot Camp Alumna; Co-Awardee, 2009 Rising Star Chefs for Sustainability 
Restaurants: Zazu Kitchen + Farm, Bovolo, and Black Pig Meat Co., Sonoma County

The West Coast of America is the birthplace to many important food movements, innovations, and chefs, ideal for expert-led expedition to the heart of diverse, regional food scenes. Award-winning Chef Duskie Estes is the perfect culinary guide as she was born in San Diego, raised in San Francisco, and spent eight years in Seattle working for JBF-awarded Restauranteur Tom Douglass before moving to Sonoma County, where she is celebrated as a chef and avid farmer/advocate for “snout to tail” cooking. Ten days fly by visiting cosmopolitan ports including two immersive days with an overnight call in Portland; a full day call to hip Seattle; coastal cruising down to San Francisco for a second overnight with the opportunity to visit the Napa Valley; followed by quaint Monterey; and wrapping up in San Diego. Join Chef Duskie to taste wine in Sonoma and Oregon’s Willamette Valley, indulge in local food truck scenes to fine dining, farmers’ markets to cooking classes that puts cruises at the heart of the action. This brand new cruise is for people who have a taste for life and a thirst for adventure.

October 14, 2019 – Classic Italy & Dalmatian Coast, 8 days aboard Star Breeze 
Chef Chris Pandel 
JBF: Chef Boot Camp Alumnus 
Restaurant: Swift & Sons, Cold Storage, and Dutch & Doc’s in Chicago

Chris Pandel has a love affair with Italy and Italian-American heritage, so who better to explore the shores of Italy, Croatia, and Montenegro, discovering the charm of Venice, the magnificence of Rome, and the vast beauty of the Dalmatian Coast? Wander down the ancient cobblestone streets of Taormina, travel up the sparkling fjord to Kotor, and bask in the allure of small ship cruising as the ship anchors in the heart of Old Town Dubrovnik while larger ships only pass by. From remarkable small ports such as Rovinj to timeless cities like Venice and Rome, discover the Mediterranean’s most charming and historic destinations in one incomparable voyage.