I attended the Chef’s Table on Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas, and it was a wonderful experience, but not perfect.

One of the experiences new and seasoned cruisers favor on board is the opportunity to try new cuisines.

For some, the Chef’s Table is the ultimate culinary discovery. Chef’s Table events on cruises are specially curated multi-course dining events paired with complimentary wines. On land, Chef’s tables are typically in the kitchen, but due to the high volume nature and ocean movement of a cruise ship, Chef’s table events are usually held in separate rooms.

I’ve seen people attend them on the Oasis of the Seas in the Coastal Kitchen/Suite Lounge. The Coastal Kitchen executive chef presents them. The Jewel of the Seas does not have a Coastal Kitchen, but Royal Caribbean set up a room nestled between the Safari Club and Giovanni’s and uses the specialty dining kitchen.

The Chef’s Table Setup

Couples filed in one by one by one to a secluded and intimate room off Safari Club on Deck 6. Our host brought everyone champagne. I took a few sips but opted for water since I don’t typically drink.

Unfortunately, right after one of the guests introduced himself, the host, Dushar, spilled a glass of champagne on his suit when the ship bobbed. Fortunately, he’s a kind person and didn’t get upset about it or let it ruin his evening.

The attendees gathered in the venue’s sitting area, where we introduced ourselves and shared where we were from. Behind us was a long table elegantly set for 9 (but seats 12) and a selection of wines in ice buckets by the window.

A table that seats 12 is set up with plates, multiple wine glasses, silverwear and bread plates. Two wine bottles in the foreground.
Table setting with white plate in center topped with a napkin and five wine glasses

We sat at the table, and everyone was pretty quiet, but a few people were helping break the ice.

The host began asking us questions about wine. Not everyone was interested in the wine stories, but some found the extra context valuable.

Six metal buckets filled with ice and several bottles of wine

The Chef’s Table Menu

Here is the two-sided menu each guest received:

Royal Caribbean Chef's Table Menu Part 1
Royal Caribbean Chef's Table Menu Part 2

After each course was served, Chef Giopani came to the table and explained the ingredients and the preparation process.

A woman, Chef Giopani, dressed in whites and an apron smiling on Jewel of the Seas Royal Caribbean ship

To start, they brought out some drool-worthy, fresh, hot bread that I recognized from 150 Central Park–their famous thyme and rosemary buttered bread. It was fluffy and rich, with a hint of salt.

A large dinner roll with 6 segments to tear apart in front of a filled water goblet

First Course: Scallop Carpaccio

Bay scallops with yuzu vinaigrette, crispy quinoa, arugula, and julienned red pepper and red onion.

The scallops were marinated in wine, then frozen and shaved paper thin. The vinaigrette was a bit sweet and not overly acidic, so it didn’t overpower the delicate flavor of scallops.

If you enjoy ceviche, you will find this dish similar.

Wine pairing: Attems Pinot Grigio from Venezia Guilia, Italy. This wine was my favorite because it was not very acidic and had some sweetness.

Dinner plate with thin slices of scallops layered around the plate in a scalloped design
Dinner plate with thin slices of scallops layered around the plate in a scalloped design

Second Course: Smoked Tomato Soup

Garlic Focaccia croutons, Parmesan cheese, and crême fraîche.

The soup was served with the garnish in the bowl, and the server poured the soup into the bowl from a tiny pitcher. It had a rich tomato flavor but was not too sharp, and the liquid smoke flavor was robust. However, when you stirred the crême fraîche into the soup, it tamed it a bit and brought another level of texture.

Wine pairing: Conundrum Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscat, Viognier from Napa Valley, California.

Server pouring a tiny pitcher of tomato soup into a bowl with a couple of croutons, Parmesan cheese shavings and lump of creme fraiche
Server pouring a tiny pitcher of tomato soup into a bowl with a couple of croutons, Parmesan cheese shavings and lump of creme fraiche

Soup mixed up with the crême fraîche:

Bowl of tomato soup after being stirred up with creme fraiche, creating brown and yellow swirls and visible lumps of tomato chunks.

Third Course: Maine Lobster Salad

Lobster tail with hearts of palm, pineapple with julienned red pepper, cilantro, vanilla vinaigrette dressing.

The lobster salad was a hit with the group, except for one who didn’t care for shellfish. It was tender and meaty, and the vanilla vinaigrette gave it an unexpected but well-matched sweetness.

Wine pairing: Peter Yealands, Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand.

Fourth Course: Roasted Branzino

Branzino fish with diced grilled zucchini, bell peppers, lemon confit, supremed grapefruit and lemon wedges, and pesto.

Branzino is a light and understated white fish, a popular dish with most diners. Personally, I removed the fish from the crispy skin, but many enjoyed the texture.

Wine pairing: La Crema, Chardonnay from Monterey, California.

Wine pairing: Peter Yealands, Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand.

Filet of branzino fish topped with slices of grapefruit and lemon on top of a bed of diced vegetables

Fifth Course: Filet Mignon

Six ounces of beef filet with truffle potato puree, asparagus, bordelaise sauce, wilted spinach, and fried fingerling potato chips.

The Chef’s default temperature for the filet was medium rare, which most people opted for. However, some preferred it more well done, while two would have liked it rarer.

For several people, this final course was the most satisfying. The filet was tender and flavorful, and the potato puree didn’t overpower the steak. The blanched asparagus and potato chips added an enjoyable crunch.

Wine pairing: Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California

Dinner plate with a filet mignon medallion with two asparagus spears laying over it and a lump of mashed potatoes
Dinner plate with a filet mignon cut in half revealing a medium rare pink center

Dessert Course: The World

Molded milk chocolate into a sphere with peanut butter ganache, salted caramel gelato, Valrhona chocolate mousse, and a crumbled crisp rice garnish.

The World is an exciting dessert that’s Instagram-worthy because of its dramatic reveal. The cold chocolate ball is shocked by hot melted caramel that breaks through the shell and exposes ganache and gelato.

Chocolate sphere before being melted by hot caramel sauce to reveal gelato and peanut butter ganache. Garnished with strawberry wedges and crumbled crisp rice.
Chef's Table chocolate globe dessert melted by hot caramel sauce to reveal gelato and peanut butter ganache. Garnished with strawberry wedges and crumbled crisp rice.

Spirit pairing: Bittersweet Truth Salted Caramel Espresso Martini

A martini glass filled with caramel espresso vodka with three coffee beans floating in the liquid

Chef Kasmir prepared our delectable desserts.

A woman, Pastry Chef Kasmir, of Royal Caribbean's Chef's Table wearing chef whites and an apron smiling

How the Night Unfolded

As more food arrived and wine poured, our quiet group became more engaged and joked around. Stories were told, from the lighthearted to the adventurous and dangerous.

Sounds

There was no music when we started the event. It would have been nice to have soft background music to fill the space and awkward silence. Instead, music from the safari club started about 45 minutes later. It was a bit loud but enjoyable since there was no singing.

However, about 2 hours in, a game show (Friendly Feud) started in the Safari Club with cheering, yelling, and buzzers.

It was too loud and difficult to hear other diners. That could have been better planning on RCCL’s part. At a minimum, RCCL could soundproof the room to reduce some noise contamination.

Service

There was only one person doing table service. We suspected they may be short-handed in the kitchen, which could explain why the entire Chef’s Table experience took nearly 4 hours to complete. We gathered at 6:15pm and left just before 10pm.

It would have been a step up for the group to gather a bit longer, perhaps a day earlier. That way, we’d already know each other a bit and give the host a chance to go over food and beverage restrictions. Also, while they asked everyone to name their allergens and intolerances, some people might prefer discretion ahead of announcing it over the table.

According to some guests who’ve done more than 10 Chef’s Table events, they occasionally included kitchen tours in the past. Given the event’s length, a tour would have been a nice touch.

FAQ

How does Chef’s Table accommodate people who don’t or can’t drink wine?

They will bring you the drinks of your choice, including soda and mocktails. I would have preferred an option for alcohol-free wine and champagne option like the Fre brand that I’ve had on RCCL previously. Unfortunately, you pay for the wine whether you drink it or not.

Is the Chef’s Table gluten-free?

Not by default. Let the restaurant managers know beforehand so they can prepare your meal without gluten.

For example, two guests had gluten-free needs and informed the kitchen at least 2 days in advance. However, when the starter bread came out, they did not offer a gluten-free version to our guests. Instead, they provided two slices of untoasted gluten-free bread available in the Windjammer buffet.

The experience would have been more positive if they had prepared the same bread type with gluten-free ingredients because the alternative was inferior. Again, they paid the same amount everyone else did but did not receive their money’s worth for the bread.

Can the Chef’s Table accommodate food allergies?

They can, but it’s not by default. One guest was allergic to mushrooms, and some restaurant servers don’t always recognize that truffles are mushrooms.

In another instance, one guest was allergic to pineapple. Instead of substituting a different fruit, such as mango or grapes, the sweet element was left off the plate.

Ideally, the Chef’s table would accommodate to make one-for-one substitutions.

Are kids welcome at the Chef’s Table?

Yes, Chef’s Table is open to children age 12 and up.

Does the Chef’s Table offer a kids menu?

No. Everyone receives the same menu regardless of age.

Does the Chef’s Table include drinks for kids?

Yes. Children can order soft drinks and mocktails from the bar menu.

What is the dress code for Chef’s Table?

Royal Caribbean’s website says formal. One couple dressed up to the nines in our group, but most people wore smart casual clothing: polo shirt or button-down, nice blouses, even jeans.

How much does Chef’s Table cost?

The retail price of Jewel of the Seas in 2023 is $95.00 per person plus gratuities. I bought the product during an RCCL Cruise Planner sale, so mine was $79.99 plus gratuities for a total of $94.38. Check big sale days like Black Friday for discounted dining options.

How do I book the Chef’s Table?

You can book the Chef’s Table before your cruise using the Royal Caribbean cruise planner. Just log into your account and find the cruise to start planning. You can also book it on embarkation day if the event is not sold out.

Overall Rating and Final Thoughts

The best part of the Chef’s Table experience was getting to know a group of people with common interests (cruising and traveling, duh!). I shared a temporary medical condition I was having on the cruise with a couple, and by the time I saw the other guests, they were all asking me how I was doing!

Getting to know this group early into the cruise was a priceless experience because now I had an immediate new family on board of kind folks looking out for each other.

Go Again?

I would consider doing this event again on a different ship if it had a different menu. I’d definitely be interested if the menu included unique dishes not found in the specialty restaurants and Coastal Kitchen. It’s the reason I haven’t tried the Chef’s Table previously. However, I would not do this again on Jewel of the Seas.

The length of this event was a bit excessive, and the time between courses was quite long. Finally, the game show entertainment next door was too loud and disrupted the dining experience.

I give the Royal Caribbean Chef’s Table on Jewel of the Seas a 7.5/10 stars.

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