Following an eight-week contest hosted by Royal Caribbean, Maureen "Molly" Brandt of Stillwater, MN, has been declared the winner of a five-hour competition at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) to helm the restaurant of the line's newest ship, Allure of the Seas, set to debut December 2010.
In her one-year paid contract as Chef de Cuisine, Brandt will join Keriann Von Raesfeld who was appointed chef of the sister ship, Oasis of the Seas, which debuted last December, among Royal Caribbean's newest chefs. Both restaurants are titled 150 Central Park.
In a partnership with the CIA, the cruise line opened the contest, the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge, exclusively to the institute's 40,000 alumni. Following a consumer voting portion of the contest, six chefs were chosen for the two-part final challenge at the college's Hyde Park campus in New York, where each contestant participated in an interview with, as well as preparing a three-course meal for, a panel of judges from Royal Caribbean and The Culinary Institute.
Brandt's meal included chilled lobster with fennel, carrots, citrus, caviar and tempura battered lobster mitt, followed by Provencal lamb Loin with Dijon potato puree, ratatouille, pattypan squash and olive tapenade and finally, Pistachio Cake with whipped rosewater creme fraiche and carbonated raspberries.
During her coursework at CIA, Brandt worked at the Food Network where she prepared food for a variety of production projects, including "Iron Chef America," "Emeril Live" and "Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee" as a culinary extern. Following her graduation from CIA in 2006, she was honored as Food and Wine best student chef in 2006 and spent a year as a teaching assistant in the school's Escoffier restaurant.
Afterwards, she worked at the Michelin-starred Cafe Boulud in New York, opened her own private chef and catering company, Cook in the Kitchen, which she owns in the Twin Cities, and co-founded Flavors of Italia, a company that offers culinary vacations in Northern Tuscany, for which she also serves as villa chef.
Onboard Allure of the Seas, 150 Central Park will be in the ship's Central Park neighborhood, developed in menu and certain design aspects by Brandt herself.