Plant Power

As Regent Seven Seas Cruises prepares to launch its new plant-based menus, avid carnivore David Dickstein puts it to the taste test.

Soon passengers will have more than 200 new and delicious reasons to feel less guilty about bypassing the fitness centre and jogging track while on holiday; luxury-class Regent Seven Seas Cruises is making major nutritious changes to its fare from bow to stern. It’s out with the separate vegan menu and in with scores of gourmet plant-based dishes, integrated into the daily menus of the main dining room and beyond.


Captaining the culinary creations is Regent’s vice president of food and beverage, Bernhard Klotz. The project’s team includes world-renowned chef and author Christophe Berg, a vegan of 15 years who recently served in a similar consulting capacity for Oceania Cruises. Executing their vegetarian-rooted vision will be the galley crews of Regent’s fleet of four vessels, five when Seven Seas Splendor arrives in February 2020.


So what’s the difference between plant-based and vegan diets? Both are generally based on personal health, animal welfare and environmental concerns. But those eating plant-based dishes are free to eat dairy, as well as small amounts of poultry, red meat, fish and animal by-products. Vegans, vehemently, are not.


Dino Schwager, a nine-year executive chef with Regent Seven Seas, told me during a recent Alaskan cruise on Seven Seas Mariner: “Plant-based is a movement, like a political movement. This is a new cuisine, a completely new niche.”


So after all this mouth-watering preamble, what are plant-based meals actually like? Although the fleet’s galleys are still months away from being fully stocked for the new recipes, the affable German chef personally made this travel writer a three-course meal as close to being stamped with the leaf symbol as possible.


As an avowed meat eater, I was a little concerned. I’d read that some people who had tried committing to plant-based diets felt sluggish and lacked energy. I needn’t have worried.


Joining us at the table for this exclusive, almost-to-spec chef’s tasting menu was a third avid non-vegetarian, Vladimir Cavic, the ship’s food and beverage director. First up was the gorgeously plated warm white and green asparagus, currently served every 14th day in the Mariner’s exquisite Compass Rose specialty restaurant and the line’s other main dining rooms.


Served with portobello and oyster mushrooms, Parisienne potatoes and sherry-vinegar dressing, the dish appears vegan, but apparently butter was used when boiling the asparagus, sautéing the fungi and soaking the spuds. The new menu calls for the butter to be replaced with a plant-based margarine.


The dish is already fresh and light, with a dressing too delicate to dare overpower the perfectly prepared produce. Exchanging butter for plant-based margarine – “a simple change”, according to Chef – will not only appeal to contemporary palates and lifestyles, but also “celebrate the vegetables”.


I found the dish light, yet satisfying, on par with similar fare from Regent – which means well above average. Next came the assorted greens and shaved fennel, a lovely salad that blends Californian and Hawaiian cuisines in its orange segments and roasted macadamia-nut dressing. “What on the plate isn’t plant-based?” a diner asks. Chef replies with a devilish smile, “Nothing! This can be served exactly as is.”


The third course, a caramelised apple tart, requires longer preparation by the dedicated dessert crew. It was love at first bite for this fan. “The apple stays the same, caramelised in the oven with the vinegar,” says Schwager. “The goat cheese will be replaced by a plant-based cheese, made with cashew. Like switching out butter with plant-based margarine, it’s a simple step. It’s the changes to the puff pastry that’s not easy,” he says.


Plant-based pastry dough will be placed in the freezer until set, then rolled thinly before cutting. “This has to be done fast,” says Chef. “The dough is so sensitive, if you make it and don’t roll it, it doesn’t work. And you have to roll it between two baking sheets.”


Based on everything the executive chef and his galley’s dessert station achieved in advance of the new menu’s launch, we can safely state that passengers are in for a real – and healthier – treat.


“Plant-based is
a movement,
like a political movement.
This is a new cuisine, a completely
new niche.”

Plant Power

As Regent Seven Seas Cruises prepares
to launch its new plant-based menus,
avid carnivore David Dickstein puts it to
the taste test.


Soon passengers will have more than 200 new and delicious reasons to feel less guilty about bypassing the fitness centre and jogging track while on holiday; luxury-class Regent Seven Seas Cruises is making major nutritious changes to its fare from bow to stern. It’s out with the separate vegan menu and in with scores of gourmet plant-based dishes, integrated into the daily menus of the main dining room and beyond.


Captaining the culinary creations is Regent’s vice president of food and beverage, Bernhard Klotz. The project’s team includes world-renowned chef and author Christophe Berg, a vegan of 15 years who recently served in a similar consulting capacity for Oceania Cruises. Executing their vegetarian-rooted vision will be the galley crews of Regent’s fleet of four vessels, five when Seven Seas Splendor arrives in February 2020.


So what’s the difference between plant-based and vegan diets? Both are generally based on personal health, animal welfare and environmental concerns. But those eating plant-based dishes are free to eat dairy, as well as small amounts of poultry, red meat, fish and animal by-products. Vegans, vehemently, are not.


Dino Schwager, a nine-year executive chef with Regent Seven Seas, told me during a recent Alaskan cruise on Seven Seas Mariner: “Plant-based is a movement, like a political movement. This is a new cuisine, a completely new niche.”

“Plant-based is a movement, like a political movement. This is a new cuisine, a completely new niche.”

So after all this mouth-watering preamble, what are plant-based meals actually like? Although the fleet’s galleys are still months away from being fully stocked for the new recipes, the affable German chef personally made this travel writer a three-course meal as close to being stamped with the leaf symbol as possible.


As an avowed meat eater, I was a little concerned. I’d read that some people who had tried committing to plant-based diets felt sluggish and lacked energy. I needn’t have worried.


Joining us at the table for this exclusive, almost-to-spec chef’s tasting menu was a third avid non-vegetarian, Vladimir Cavic, the ship’s food and beverage director. First up was the gorgeously plated warm white and green asparagus, currently served every 14th day in the Mariner’s exquisite Compass Rose specialty restaurant and the line’s other main dining rooms.


Served with portobello and oyster mushrooms, Parisienne potatoes and sherry-vinegar dressing, the dish appears vegan, but apparently butter was used when boiling the asparagus, sautéing the fungi and soaking the spuds. The new menu calls for the butter to be replaced with a plant-based margarine.


The dish is already fresh and light, with a dressing too delicate to dare overpower the perfectly prepared produce. Exchanging butter for plant-based margarine – “a simple change”, according to Chef – will not only appeal to contemporary palates and lifestyles, but also “celebrate the vegetables”.


I found the dish light, yet satisfying, on par with similar fare from Regent – which means well above average. Next came the assorted greens and shaved fennel, a lovely salad that blends Californian and Hawaiian cuisines in its orange segments and roasted macadamia-nut dressing. “What on the plate isn’t plant-based?” a diner asks. Chef replies with a devilish smile, “Nothing! This can be served exactly as is.”


The third course, a caramelised apple tart, requires longer preparation by the dedicated dessert crew. It was love at first bite for this fan. “The apple stays the same, caramelised in the oven with the vinegar,” says Schwager. “The goat cheese will be replaced by a plant-based cheese, made with cashew. Like switching out butter with plant-based margarine, it’s a simple step. It’s the changes to the puff pastry that’s not easy,” he says.


Plant-based pastry dough will be placed in the freezer until set, then rolled thinly before cutting. “This has to be done fast,” says Chef. “The dough is so sensitive, if you make it and don’t roll it, it doesn’t work. And you have to roll it between two baking sheets.”

Based on everything the executive chef and his galley’s dessert station achieved in advance of the new menu’s launch, we can safely state that passengers are in for a real – and healthier – treat.