Chef Rudi Sodamin enhances Princess Cruises dining through a hospitality focus, interview

Princess Cruises Names Chef Rudi Sodamin Head of Culinary Arts
Princess Cruises Names Chef Rudi Sodamin Head of Culinary Arts /

As many cruise guests appreciate, the onboard food experience is just as important as the itinerary’s ports of call. The head of Princess Cruises Culinary Arts, Chef Rudi Sodamin is transforming the Princess Cruises dining menus without losing the travel company’s rich history. With a focus on hospitality, the award-winning chef appreciates that his whole culinary team must focus on quality as it enhances the fleet’s culinary experiences.

Although some cruise lines rely on highly visible chefs seen on food television screens, Chef Rudi Sodamin does not need the glare of the spotlight to shine on his many accolades. Spending decades in the cruise industry, the affable chef appreciates that the cruise dining experience allows him an opportunity to make a lasting impression with guests. Whether it is the elegant, multi-course meal or the casual bite, every moment at the table should be memorable.

During a recent conversation with Chef Sodamin, he explained his approach to transforming Princess Cruises dining. Even if some guests might be change adverse, his experience and methodology will ensure that guests are craving another opportunity to enjoy his food menus.

While Chef Sodamin appreciates that the cruise industry’s growth and competition changed the dining experience, he relies on the one description that has always served him well, quality. Whether or not quality really is his middle name, Chef said, “We want to ensure that we support each guest and provide a culinary experience that lives up to my reputation.”

Although that notion might seem like pressure for the culinary team to execute without fail, it is a team effort that creates the successful endeavor. As Chef said, “I want to instill pride in my kitchen and service staff. We have the responsibility to provide the best food and product. We encourage our staff to be an innovator, a leader, and work hard.” The belief that success happens as a team is vital to travel brand that wants to make waves in the cruise food conversation.

As the leader of the culinary program, Chef Sodamin has one clear mantra, “food is life.” While he considers himself, a chef, an artist, and a person with unlimited creativity and vision, he cannot stand alone on that galley line. He believes that he must inspire, encourage, and develop the whole culinary team. If those chefs who prepare hundreds to thousands of plates a day are not in a good mental state, the food that the guests enjoy will not be as flavorful.

Although Chef Sodamin has been diligent in implementing change across the fleet, nothing can happen overnight. As he shared, “I’ve been with the company for a couple of years and there have been new dishes, exciting projects, and much change. But, it does not happen overnight, even though I am an energetic guy. I want to have it done tomorrow. I only look to the positives to make our brand better, and we will deliver the most amazing product to our guests.”

No matter the itinerary, Chef Sodamin believes that one characteristic needs to be true regardless of the cuisine served. On Princess Cruises ships, “a great food product will be hot served and nicely presented with a smile.” That sense of hospitality will always make for a more flavorful dish.

Beyond that simple, yet often overlooked concept, Chef Sodamin appreciates that there is a time and place to allow the ports of call into influence some special offerings. Whether it is the fresh catch or working with specialty chefs, there is an opportunity to celebrate that culinary creativity.

As seen on the Princess Alaskan cruises, the local specialties take center stage. It is more than just an opportunity to taste that fresh catch but also to learn about the importance of sustainability in the fishing industry and its impact on the food world.

As Chef Sodamin explained, “the Alaskan cruises are an opportunity to discuss sustainability both in the food world and beyond.” Although he may understand that there is still space to expand the conversation, he appreciates that showcasing that locally sourced seafood is not only good quality but also bigger conversation. It is more than just passing on serving fish from a farm in China. It is about making that guest experience an all-encompassing one. The food conversation does not end when the last dish is cleared.

While Chef Sodamin influences the food offerings across the Princess fleet, his signature restaurant, The Catch by Rudi, celebrates the belief that he never waivers from supporting. As he said, “I love quality versus quantity. I think that’s the future.” Even though the menu has a plethora of options, it feels approachable and inviting.

Still, Chef Sodamin wants to impress the guest at every moment. One element that he feels can be overlooked is the table culture. Sitting down to a stunning tablescape sets the tone as much as a great aperitif or a palate awakening amuse bouche. The idea is not only to make a memorable impression in that moment but have guests inspired to come back time and again.

Although many people may not be traveling the world as much as Chef Rudi Sodamin, he believes that a Princess Cruises and its dining options represent the best in quality and hospitality within the cruise industry. He might recommend guests book a Mediterranean itinerary, but no matter the port of call one thing is certain. The Princess Cruises dining experience will linger in the mind long after that passport returns to the draw. More importantly, it will lead guests to book another adventure to satisfy that craving for the delicious food served at the table.

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