Celebrity chef Theo Randall to join Saga’s Flavours of the Mediterranean cruise

The Saga Pearl II (Dec. 2013, photo Ivan T. at Wikipedia)Saga guests will be ‘living la dolce vita’ with Chef Theo Randall on Saga Pearl II’s Flavours of the Mediterranean cruise in July 2016.

Theo will be demonstrating the fine art of Italian cooking before the ship sails to four Italian ports during the food-themed 18-night sailing from Dover.

Theo, who runs his award-winning Italian restaurant at the InterContinental Hotel, in London, says he loves Italian food for its simplicity. He said: “I will be showing passengers how to make fresh pasta and demonstrating butcher’s techniques such as filleting”.

He added: “Italian cooking is about bringing out the flavour of the ingredients as much as possible. When it comes to food sometimes less is more – and using quality produce in my cooking is my passion.

“We will also be sampling wines from Chianti to Pinot Grigio at a tasting session so it will be fantastic to get the passengers really excited about Italian cuisine and wine before they arrive in the country.

“As well as a wine tasting, we will also match certain foods to wines so it’s going to be good food, good wine and great company!”

Keeping with the Italian theme, Saga Pearl II will visit maiden port San Remo on the Italian Riviera; Livorno, for Florence and Pisa; Civitavecchia, for Rome; and Cagliari in Sardinia. There will also be an opportunity for passengers to join the ship’s chefs in sourcing local ingredients when they go ashore.

Theo, 48, will also take part in a Q & A session and talk about his life as a Michelin-starred chef.

The father-of-two says his taste for Italy came from his parents’ enthusiasm for the country. He said: “My mother was obsessed with all things Italian. I was the one who went to school with home-made bread and gorgonzola in my lunchbox while the others had crisps and sliced white bread ham sandwiches. I felt very left out at the time!

“My parents’ love of good food and wine didn’t so much ‘rub off’ but rather ‘stuck’ with me. They were both artists, my mother taught art at Kingston College, and they were very proud that I chose a creative career.

“We spent our family holidays driving through rural Italy in their Citroën DS and they would see how much food and wine they could squeeze into the boot before driving home.

“Looking back, I can see this was a privilege but at the time the only thing that made these trips bearable were the frequent stops at trattorie and panetterie.”

Theo added: “As a child, sitting in restaurants and loving the atmosphere, the waiters and all the food was such an exciting place to be. I was destined to be a chef!”

Theo went to catering college and did a four-year apprenticeship with Max Magarian of Chez Max, in Surbition. He said: “I had the best training and later went on to work at The River Café, near Hammersmith Bridge, on the River Thames.”

Theo gained his Michelin star at the restaurant and said: “I could have happily stayed at The River Café forever but I always felt that I might look back and wonder if I could ever have done it on my own. So, after 17 happy years I opened my first restaurant, Theo Randall at the InterContinental, in Park Lane.”

The restaurant has won numerous awards including Best Italian Restaurant of the Year from the London Restaurant Awards and the highest-ranked Italian on the Sunday Times Food List.

Saga guests who want to see more of Theo before the cruise will find he is a regular guest on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen and Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch. Theo also writes a weekly blog for the Huffington Post where 100 of his recipes can be found.

Theo’s new book My Simple Italian (2015) focuses on balancing top quality ingredients to make perfect flavour combinations and he will use recipes from the book during his on board demonstrations.

Saga Pearl II departs on the 18-night Flavours of the Mediterranean cruise from Dover on July 27, 2016 and further ports of call include Gibraltar, Barcelona and Cartagena, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal.

Price from £3,809* per person when booking on or before January 31, 2016, based on two people sharing the lowest available inside cabin, was correct at time of going to print and is subject to availability and change. £4,009 Price includes UK travel package to and from Dover, all demonstrations by Theo Randall, all meals and entertainment, choice of table wines at lunch and dinner, afternoon tea, 24-hour room service, welcome cocktail party, unlimited tea and coffee in selected venues, free Wi-Fi internet, all on-board gratuities, porterage, free shuttle bus to nearest town centre (whenever possible and when the ship is berthed more than 500 yards away), optional travel insurance and additional cancellation rights, or a discount of £53 per person if passenger has own insurance.

* Price quoted is for Newcomers to Saga Cruising and includes the relevant Newcomers’ saving. Greater savings are available to those who have previously cruised with Saga Cruising. By Saga Cruising we mean any cruise aboard Saga’s own ships.

(Saga Cruises)