Windstar Cruises, the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation, is cooking up a delicious menu of guest chefs for its 2023 culinary cruises season. Three themed foodie cruises will feature a trio of acclaimed visiting chefs, namely Washington D.C.’s Jerome Grant, a 2019 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalist for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic; New York’s Ayesha Nurdjaja, a 2022 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award Nominee for Best Chef: New York State; and Boston’s Tracy Chang, an alumna of the James Beard Foundation Chef Bootcamp for Policy & Change, James Beard Foundation Women’s Entrepreneurship Leadership Program, and a 2020 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: Northeast.
Both Windstar and the James Beard Association are dedicated to support, celebrate, and elevate the people behind America’s food culture and champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability. The Foundation aligns closely with Windstar’s commitment to fresh and local epicurean experiences around the world, as well as efforts to reduce food waste.
Each of Windstar’s three 2023 themed cruises will include two on-board cooking demonstrations, and four dishes by the JBF visiting chef at a hosted dinner with wine pairings. Each chef will also lead guests on a market tour to gather fresh, local ingredients for dishes served on board. In addition, all three chefs will provide multiple recipes to be featured on Windstar’s menus to be served across the fleet on every sailing.
“As the Official Cruise Line of the James Beard Foundation, we’ve hosted dozens of top chefs over the years. One of the best byproducts possible is a delicious and constantly rotating section of JBF dishes on our menu – on all of our sailings,” says Windstar President Christopher Prelog. “It doesn’t get any better than sailing with a James Beard Foundation guest chef on a special culinary cruise. Not only will you get to eat their food — you’ll get to know them. You may even learn a few tips and tricks for being a better cook yourself, and you’ll definitely have a richer and deeper travel experience because of it.”
Chef Jerome Grant in the Caribbean, 3/4-11, 2023 on Star Legend, from Panama City to Oranjestad
Jerome Grant picked up the basics of Filipino cuisine from his mother and the Caribbean flavors of his Jamaican heritage from his paternal grandparents. After graduating from Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Grant moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he gained his first critical notice while helming the Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort. Grant later accepted an executive sous chef position at Urbana Restaurant in Washington, D.C. before working as executive chef of the Mitsitam Native Foods Café inside the National Museum of American Indian, and inaugural chef of the Sweet Home Café inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture. His recipes and menus took the café from a simple concept to becoming a James Beard Award recognized restaurant and cookbook. Sweet Home Café is a 2017 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalist for Best New Restaurant, and the restaurant is inspiration for the 2019 James Beard Media Award Nominated “Sweet Home Café Cookbook.” Since 2020, Grant has been with Dacha Restaurant Group in D.C., including Jackie Restaurant, which pays homage to Grant’s Filipino-American roots, and Dacha Beer Gardens. He’s also preparing for the upcoming launch of Mahal, an open-fire kitchen.
Chef Ayesha Nurdjaja in the Mediterranean 6/17-26, 2023 on Wind Surf, from Venice to Athens
Ayesha Nurdjaja is the executive chef at Shuka in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, as well as sibling restaurant Shukette. Born and raised in Brooklyn, she is the daughter of an Indonesian father and Italian mother. Nurdjaja graduated from culinary school in 2006 and first worked for Chef Lidia Bastianich, working her way up the ranks to become sous chef. Nurdjaja has also helped lead the kitchen teams at Bar Artisanal, Michelin-starred Picholine, and at Michelin-starred A Voce under chef Missy Robbins. She also spent time as executive chef at Il Bordello and at Brooklyn neighborhood favorite Red Gravy. In 2015, Nurdjaja joined with restaurateurs Vicki Freeman and Marc Meyer to create Shuka, with a menu that draws on the vibrant flavors found throughout Italy, Morocco, and Tunisia. Shukette followed to great acclaim in 2021.
Japan with Chef Tracy Chang 9/21-30, 2023 on Star Breeze in Asia, from Tokyo to Osaka
Tracy Chang is the chef/owner of PAGU restaurant in Cambridge, MA, celebrating Spanish and Japanese style tapas paired with natural wines, sakes, sherry, and more. Prior to PAGU, Chang founded a pop-up restaurant, Guchi’s Midnight Ramen, and hosted events with restaurants, startups, nonprofits, and universities, including Harvard, where she is a teaching fellow. During Covid-19, she co-founded two nonprofit initiatives, Off Their Plate (OTP) and Project Restore Us (PRU), to provide essential worker communities with food and groceries. The standard operating procedures she created for PAGU and Off Their Plate, have been compiled into a comprehensive guide by the James Beard Foundation, World Central Kitchen, and the Aspen Institute.