The Chef’s Table on Carnival Jubilee

During the maiden voyage of Carnival Jubilee, PCT’s Chris Grum was one of the first to enjoy Carnival Cruise Line’s “The Chef’s Table 2.0.” Here is his review.

The Chef’s Table is a unique dining experience available on Carnival Cruise Line ships. This is my fourth time doing it and this was by far the best of the bunch (the rest were pretty awesome as well). On some ships, you tour the galley and then dine in a separate room like the library or a private dining area. On others, you dine in the middle of the galley. With the Excel and Vista class ships, Carnival has build a special glassed-in dining area in the heart of the galley where the Chef’s Table guests can enjoy their dinner while watching the chefs and waiters serve several thousand people in the main dining room.

You can reserve the experience in the cruise planner ahead of your cruise and I strongly recommend you do that. It is often sold out by the time you get onboard. You can choose the night you want to go as well, which is also nice and wasn’t always the case. The price runs $80 to $100 or so, depending on the ship. It is, in my opinion, well worth the price at any level.

A day or two prior to your night, you will receive an official invitation in your mailbox outside your stateroom. The letter will confirm your reservation, date, and time, plus it gives you the location to meet the chef that evening.

The chef that led our culinary journey, Chef Plato from India, met us at the ship’s coffee shop and walked us through a secret door into the galley. There, we were able to see over 100 chefs hard at work in the middle of the dinner service. It is fascinating to watch them work in tandem to produce the plates we see in the dining room. Every step of the way, our chef explained how the different sections work, what it takes to be a chef onboard, and how they prepare food for not only the passengers but also the crew.

Our first stop was an area of the galley that had been specially set up for us. There was a spot for each of us with our name on a card, a place setting, and a glass for champagne. The chef came and toasted us, and then presented us with four small appetizers to kick off the evening.

One at a time, we enjoyed four unique bites called “The Chef’s Reception.” Here is that menu:

I have a seafood intolerance, so I notified the chef about it when I got onboard the ship, giving him plenty of time to adapt my plates. The photos above are the actual items as described. The photo below is my version of the Tuna Crudo appetizer, but using chicken as the protein. You can see they did a great job making them look similar.

After our four small plates, we enjoyed a demo from the pastry chef, showing us how to make Carnival Cruise Line’s signature dessert, the warm chocolate melting cake. This is one of the small changes from Chef’s Table 1.0 – this part used to take place in the middle of the meal, making everyone leave the dining area to go back and see the demo. I liked that once the main meal started, they didn’t interrupt us with the galley tour or demo.

Once the demo was completed, we were led to the special glassed-in room where we would enjoy the main event. The room seats 16 guests (up from 14 in the previous incarnation) and is very comfortable. It has a view right into the kitchen, and also a prep station where you can watch the chefs prepare each of your courses piece by piece.

The Chef’s Table includes both red and white wine, so we opted to try both.

There’s always bread service with dinner on Carnival, but this was a whole new level. The bread was a meal in itself and the honey butter was divine.

One by one, our chef presented the eight courses of our meal. Here is the “Chef’s Degustation menu.”

And here are the corresponding dishes:

Before the two dessert courses, we were offered a nice Port wine, also included in the price.

Finally, here are the two dessert courses:

Half-way through the evening, the ship’s table magician (who you can sometimes see in the main dining room) came to the Chef’s Table and did some cool up-close magic and card tricks for us.

At the end of the evening, we were presented with a signed photo from the chef as a thank you for attending.

I cannot recommend the Chef’s Table enough. Be sure to add it to your next Carnival vacation. If you want to listen to our corresponding podcast about The Chef’s Table, visit The Itinerary’s home page and look under past episodes.