Windstar Cruises and the James Beard Foundation Announce New Dates for 2020

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Award-winning small ship line Windstar Cruises, the Official Cruise Line of the James Beard Foundation, today reveals six new cruises being added to the James Beard Foundation (JBF) Culinary Cruise Collection for 2020.

All sailings are led by James Beard Foundation-recognized guest chefs, sommeliers and beverage experts with a passion for their destination.


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The six diverse cruise offerings will explore locavore cuisine on a country-immersive Croatia cruise; get a flavor for the rugged north of Alaska; discover the hidden gems of France, Spain, and Portugal's Atlantic coast; experience exotic cuisines of Indonesia and the Philippines; delight in the hidden harbors of the Caribbean; and introduce cruisers to the trend-setting foodie scene and wine regions of the U.S. West Coast. The six newly announced cruises are scheduled to sail from January through November 2020, and range in length from 7 to 14 days.

Together, Windstar and the James Beard Foundation are taking guests on epicurean adventures that deliver the best travel and cuisine experiences worldwide, by curating genuine local culinary encounters while drawing attention to the impactful work of the Beard Foundation network which celebrates food and advocates for food sustainability.

"Our exclusive partnership with the James Beard Foundation has allowed us to enrich our culinary experiences giving our guests unparalleled access to the most cutting edge and accomplished culinarians in the industry. Every evening, on every single sailing, our cruise guests enjoy destination-inspired JBF dishes created especially for Windstar by the James Beard guest chefs who have sailed with us. We have proudly hosted nearly three dozen chefs, sommeliers and beverage experts and counting. What is unique is that each one has a special connection to the places they are sailing, whether through food or family heritage, this creates powerful and inspiring personal experiences that our guests will never forget," said Windstar President John Delaney.


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Coinciding with this announcement, and as part of the unique travel-culinary alliance, Windstar sponsors the acclaimed James Beard Foundation Awards, the pinnacle of recognition in the culinary world, happening today at the Lyric Opera in Chicago, IL.

James Beard Foundation President Clare Reichenbach commented, "We are so pleased to have Windstar's support of our mantra 'good food for good', which commits the James Beard Foundation to giving culinary professionals the tools they need to make the world more sustainable, equitable, and delicious for everyone. The JBF Culinary Cruise Collection shines a light on these chefs and wine experts and highlights the important role that food plays in the culture and economies of each of the ports where Windstar sails, the world round."

A number of Windstar alumni guest chefs are attending the JBF Awards Gala including Chef Danielle Leoni ofBreadfruit in Phoenix, AZ. who led guests on a Caribbean cruise adventure in January, and is a James Beard Foundation 2018 Fellow for the Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership program; also attending is acclaimed Chef Hugh Acheson of Empire State South, Five & Ten, and The National in Atlanta, GA. who headlined a 2017 European JBF Culinary Cruise and is nominated for Outstanding Restaurateur.

Windstar's Corporate Executive Chef Graeme Cockburn joins an exclusive club of chefs that have been invited to prepare a signature bite for the 1,000 plus guests attending the famed JBF Awards Gala. Chef Cockburn sails aboard each JBF cruise overseeing the culinary operations, and the dishes specially developed by the James Beard guest chefs are featured in Windstar's restaurants each evening and enjoyed on every sailing.


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For the JBF Awards Gala, Chef Cockburn has developed a recipe inspired by Windstar's forays into the alpine areas and glaciers of Alaska and will be serving up Seared Venison Loin & Alaskan Pine Spruce Salad with Nasturtium Pesto and Goat Buttermilk Dressing at the epicurean extravaganza.

Windstar also supports JBF's Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change. A number of the guest chefs who have sailed with Windstar are alumni of the prestigious camp, a part of the James Beard Foundation's Impact Programs which are committed to establishing a more sustainable food system through education, advocacy, and thought leadership. 

Windstar's JBF Culinary Cruise Collection Offers Authentic Culinary Experiences

The bespoke portfolio of nine total upcoming sailings in the JBF Culinary Cruise Collection embarking June 2019 through November 2020, are attracting food and wine enthusiasts seeking to fully immerse themselves in the culture, tastes, and flavors of regional cuisines where the ships sail. Each cruise features a James Beard chef, working alongside Windstar's culinary team.

The guest chef acts as an onboard culinary ambassador teaching first-hand tips and techniques during cooking demonstrations, leading "Shopping with the Chef" tours to local markets, and picking out fresh local ingredients to use in featured dishes at a wine-paired gala dinner for all on board to enjoy.


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Similarly, the JBF sommelier/beverage expert accompanies tours to local wineries, leads on board tastings of regional wines and spirits, and works with the chefs to create one-of-a-kind pairing menus that celebrate the quaint, small ports that Windstar is renowned for visiting. Guests on board get to know these epicurean experts on a personal level, tasting the dishes and wines they recommend and hearing firsthand what stirs their passion for food, wine, and spirits. One-on-one interactions with the guest chef and sommelier/beverage expert are a given during memorable cruise moments like Windstar's Signature Sail Away and Signature Deck Party, or on a culinary-focused shore excursion.

The names of the 2020 guest chefs, sommeliers, and beverage experts who are being tapped as the culinary cruise ambassadors will be announced in the coming weeks. Below are the dates and itineraries for the six newly announced 2020 additions to the JBF Culinary Cruise Collection:

In addition, following is the super star line-up of award-winning chefs and celebrated sommeliers who will headline the three remaining 2019 JBF Culinary Cruise Collection sailings:

June 22, 2019 – James Beard Foundation:Yachtsman's Harbors of the Rivieras

8 days aboard Wind Surf

  • Chef & Restaurateur Jamie Leeds, JL Restaurant Group & Hank's Oyster Bar in Washington, D.C.
  • Sommelier Jeff Strine, JL Restaurant Group & Hank's Oyster Bar, and more) in Washington, D.C.

Chef and Restaurateur Jamie Leeds — a James Beard Foundation Chef Boot Camp Alumna and owner of JL Restaurant Group — will be seeking out the freshest French oysters and bringing guests on chef-led visits to lively markets to gather produce, herbs, fish, and more to showcase in cooking demonstrations and a gala evening meal on board. Alongside her will be Jeff Strine, who works closely with Jamie at JL Restaurant Group where he developed a thoughtful and concise wine program for Hank's Oyster Bar's seasonal seafood-focused menu.

Both love to travel and are excited to visit lesser-known wine regions and visits to smaller ports such as quaint Sanary-sur-Mer, France. This coastal jewel offers a wine tasting tour above the vineyards in the Provençal hilltop village of Le Castellet, followed by a visit to Domaine de Souviou for tasting the house wines and olive oils grown on the expansive 70-hectares property that is planted with 100-year-old olive trees and rows of vines, cypress trees, and lavender, a treat for all of the senses.

September 24, 2019 – James Beard Foundation:West Coast Epicurean Extravaganza

10 days aboard Star Legend

  • Chef Duskie Estes of Zazu Kitchen + Farm, Bovolo, and Black Pig Meat Co. in Sonoma County
  • Beverage Expert Michael Metzger of Distinguished Vineyards and Wine Partners

Award-winning Chef Duskie Estes is the perfect culinary guide for this first-ever Windstar sailing along the West Coast of America, as she was born in San Diego, raised in San Francisco, and spent eight years in Seattle working for JBF-awarded Restaurateur Tom Douglas before moving to Sonoma County, where she is celebrated as a chef and avid farmer/advocate for "snout to tail" cooking.


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Providing wine pairings and insight will be Michael Metzger from Distinguished Vineyards, who works with the James Beard Foundation's Impact Program as their sustainable wine partner and represents a collection of iconic wineries including the highly acclaimed Argyle Winery in Oregon's Willamette Valley, MacRostie Winery and Vineyards in Sonoma, and Markham Vineyards in Napa Valley.

As with all Windstar sailings, this first-ever West Coast cruise boasts a myriad of shore-side adventures including specially curated culinary shore excursions from vineyard visits, to food trucks and farmers' markets. In Seattle, guests will enjoy a behind-the-scenes docent tour of the iconic Pike Place Market; after sailing up the Columbia River, the ship has a two-day overnight stay in James Beard's native Oregon, where guests can enjoy an "Elevated Foodie Walking Tour" of the Portland culinary scene, or a brewery/cidery tasting tour. An all-day excursion to Oregon's beautiful Willamette Valley allows guests to indulge in private tastings at three wineries in the region that put Pinot Noir on the U.S. map. In Sonoma, foodies will delight in a private cave tour with wine and cheese tasting at the Gloria Ferrer Winery, followed by lunch and an afternoon of olive oil and balsamic vinegars tasting at Figone Olive Oil & Production Mill.

Also of note, this U.S. West Coast itinerary is featured as one of the newly announced 2020 culinary cruises but sailing aboard Star Breeze, following her upcoming full ship renovation as part of Windstar's $250 Million Star Plus Initiative. The May 5, 2020 itinerary will be a reverse version of the 2019 offering with similar culinary-focused shore excursions, but departing from San Diego, CA. and sailing to Vancouver, B.C. instead. Details on chef and beverage experts in 2020 will be announced soon.

October 14, 2019 – James Beard Foundation: Classic Italy & Dalmatian Coast

8 days aboard Wind Surf  

  • Chef Chris Pandel of Swift & Sons, Cold Storage, and Dutch & Doc's in Chicago
  • Beverage Expert Marcello Cancelli of the Boka Group in Chicago

Chef Chris Pandel, a James Beard Foundation Chef Boot Camp Alumnus, has a love affair with Italy and Italian-American heritage, so who better to cruise with and explore the shores of Italy, Croatia, and Montenegro, discovering the charm of Venice, the magnificence of Rome, and the vast beauty of the Dalmatian Coast? While visiting the picturesque seaside resort of Rovinj, a top pick shore excursion lets guests tour the wine cellar of the Matosevic Family, Croatia's most well-known wine producers.


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Offering beautiful wine pairings on this cruise is Marcello Cancelli, a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers who is Area Wine Director for Chicago's Boka Group, overseeing the wine programs at Swift & Sons, Momotaro, Bellemore, Girl & the Goat, and more. Cancelli will be demonstrating his passion and commitment to great wine and its rightful place alongside a meal.

For more information on Windstar's partnership with the James Beard Foundation, find featured recipes, and view the JBF Culinary Cruise Collection visit: https://www.windstarcruises.com/why-windstar/james-beard-foundation/. To learn more about the Beard Foundation visit: https://www.jamesbeard.org/.

Windstar has garnered recent culinary awards, notably being named Best Small Cruise Ships for Dining in Cruise Critic's 2019 Cruisers' Choice Awards, and a 2019 Editor-in-Chief Award for Best Cruise Partnership as the Official Cruise Line of the James Beard Foundation from Porthole Cruise Magazine. Windstar was also voted 2018 Best Small Ship Cruise Line by AFAR readers; scored a top spot as Best Small Ship in Condé Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards, and was named to the magazine's prestigious Gold List for 2019; while Windstar's flagship Wind Surf ranked #1 Midsize-Ship Ocean Cruise Lines in the 2018 Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards.

To learn more about authentic small ship cruising with Windstar or to book a cruise, contact a travel advisor or Windstar Cruises by phone at 1-800-258-7245, or visit www.windstarcruises.com


About Windstar Cruises 
Windstar Cruises operates a six-ship fleet of small sailing and all-suite ships visiting approximately 300 ports and 80 countries sailing to Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, Costa Rica and the Panama Canal, Asia, Alaska and British Columbia, Canada and New England, South Pacific and Tahiti. Windstar's fleet is the market leader in small ship cruising and has just embarked on a $250 Million Dollar Star Plus Initiative to enhance its Star-class ships and the onboard guest accommodations and experiences. Calling on hidden harbors, off-the-beaten-path and popular ports, the boutique cruise line carries 148 to 312 passengers on six small ships and takes travelers on cruises that are 180 degrees from ordinary. Windstar is known for immersive experiences and destination authenticity, port-intensive itineraries, exceptional award-winning service, and an innovative culinary program with culinary-themed cruises as the Official Cruise Line of the James Beard Foundation. Windstar Cruises is a part of Xanterra Travel Collection, an award-winning, globally diversified travel company offering once-in-a-lifetime experiences in some of the most beautiful and iconic places on earth.

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Images courtesy of Windstar Cruises and used with permission.

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