Many people, upon introduction to The Wolfsonian’s substantial holdings of ocean liner materials, might imagine the bygone experience of a first-class intercontinental voyage during the golden age of sea travel. In contrast, Anthony Bourdain wondered what the food would be like en route. More specifically, the celebrity chef imagined creating a meal similar to one served aboard great passenger ships like the S.S. Ile de France and the S.S. Normandie.
Now he is getting his chance. And some fortunate guests are going to consume the resulting culinary feast. On Feb. 21, The Wolfsonian—that’s the S.S. Wolfsonian, along with the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival and Azamara Club Cruises, will present a dinner hosted by Bourdain and Johannes Tysse, captain of the cruise ship Azamara Journey.
Bourdain has assembled a crew of celebrity chefs who will join him on board. Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin) is contributing deviled quail eggs and a lobster bisque; Daniel Boulud (Daniel) is whipping up some fried Blue Point oysters and halibut bonne femme; Andrew Carmellini (The Dutch) is offering a mushroom truffle macaroon hors d’oeuvre and pithivier of pheasant as a main course; other chefs include David McMillan and Frederic Morin (Joe Beef) and Francois Payard (FPV).
“We were thrilled when Wine & Food Festival founder Lee Schrager introduced Anthony Bourdain to The Wolfsonian during last year’s festival,” says Cathy Leff, The Wolfsonian’s director. “After touring the museum, Anthony said one of his dreams was to curate a meal based on the ocean liner menus in our collection.We were even more thrilled when Lee called to say it was going to happen.
“We are excited to link our collection and institution to this amazing event, which benefits The Wolfsonian and FIU. We are thankful for the very generous sponsorship of Azamara Club Cruises and its president and CEO Larry Pimentel, and to the festival for making this happen.”
Bourdain had no shortage of inspiration when it came to creating the meal—there are more than 400 menus in the museum’s ocean liner holdings. The Wolfsonian is a major resource for ocean liner materials, and has in recent years significantly built its collection.
“Our objective is to become the repository of choice for these materials, as is fitting given both our strong collection and our location in Miami, an international hub for today’s cruise ship industry,” says Francis X. Luca, The Wolfsonian’s chief librarian.
The approximately 26,000 sea-vessel-related items in the museum’s collection include brochures, deck plans, menus, promotional materials and reference books– largely from the interwar and postwar periods. For a glimpse at some of the materials, see the online library exhibitions The “Good Neighbor Fleet”: Selections from a Gift by Thomas C. Ragan and Class Distinctions: Selections from the Laurence Miller Collection.
The evening, styled by Cristofle, includes an auction for a cruise for two from Azamara Club Cruises. Proceeds from the sold-out event benefit The Wolfsonian–FIU Endowment Foundation as well as FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, which is one of the beneficiaries of the festival. Every year, the Chaplin School provides more than 1,100 student volunteers and countless interns to the festival; many volunteers and interns have gone on to key, full-time positions with the festival. To date, the festival has raised more than $18 million for the school.
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who is responsible for or introducing the museum to Larry Pimentel and Azamara Club Cruises, will also attend the event.
– Maris Bish