Food Star Stalking with Holland America's Rudi Sodamin

Categories: Chef Interviews
Photo by Riki Altman
Master Chef Rudi Sodamin (foreground) with Chefs Jacques Torres (far left), David Burke (left), and Charlie Trotter (far right)
Holland America invited Short Order aboard the ms Noordam a few weeks ago to meet its new Culinary Council. We nearly plotzed after discovering that meant having lunch with David Burke, Charlie Trotter, Jacques Torres, Jonnie Boer, and council chairman Rudi Sodamin, also the cruise line's consulting master chef. Holland claims it is the first to assemble a group like this with the intent of improving its menus, giving guests opportunities to interact with their favorite toques, and adding just some all-around cred to the culinary offerings.

The world-famous chefs (along with Marcus Samuelsson who, regrettably, was a no-show) were invited to contribute 10 of their recipes to the line's ever-cycling menus and they'll be expected to eventually hop aboard to lead some demos and teach classes.

This royal culinary court came together thanks to Sodamin's efforts. The Austrian-born master chef is no stranger to the kitchen, nor the cruise industry. Born as part of triplets to a mom who had 11 children in all and was a chef, Sodamin was taught, "If you're a cook you'll never go hungry."

Today, claiming to be "the most highly decorated chef at sea," he oversees 15 ships on seven continents. And Sodamin keeps pumping out cookbooks, some for the cruise line (A Taste of Elegance, for example) and some solo projects, like the red-flocked Seduction and Spice. The guy is truly busy, but once we found out his home base is in Coral Gables we managed to trap him at a nearby coffee shop for a chat.

New Times: So I'll admit, I was pretty impressed with all the star power in the room. But do those chefs have big egos?

Rudi Sodamin: Definitely not. These are the best chefs in the industry we could find. True chefs are about sharing. They share the recipes, share the passion. By the way, good chefs have no ego. Bad chefs, lots of ego.

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