Meet Executive Culinary Director – Robert Kellerhals
The onboard culinary journey is central to an APT River Cruise, Robert shares some of its key ingredients.
Curating a food journey within a travel journey is one of the toughest creative propositions with which a chef could be tasked, let alone aboard a river cruise ship. Executive Culinary Director Robert Kellerhals not only does this throughout Europe, showcasing each region’s cuisine to the highest standards, he does so under rigorous onboard health and safety regulations. No wonder he is a member of La Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, one of the world’s most prestigious culinary societies. Membership is by invitation only.
Being the visionary behind APT Europe River Cruises’ exceptional dining experiences takes this rare kind of culinary and professional acumen. Robert oversees a team of expert chefs, who must remain across culinary trends, optimised kitchen processes and best-practice food sourcing. We caught up with Robert to learn just how they deliver exquisite regional flavours to your plate with every onboard dining experience, and what’s in store for the future of dining aboard an APT Europe River Cruise.
How do you go about creating a journey within a journey, so that the culinary experience reflects the history, culture or produce of the European regions explored on a river cruise?
“We focus on local and regional cuisine, so our guests can experience the ‘Taste of Europe’ and the region through which they are sailing. We also focus on seasonal aspects, so our guests enjoy the finest-tasting produce.”
What’s it like to evolve menus over a week or more when travelling through Europe’s different wine regions and produce areas?
“It is a real pleasure to get deep into the different regional cuisines not just within Europe but the different regions of all the countries we sail through. To get inspired by local markets and specialties. It is a process of continuous learning and experiencing old and new dishes. As a chef you need to have passion and respect for the ingredients and preparation involved.”
What is your food-sourcing process throughout a river cruise?
“We have meat and vegetable suppliers in nearly all of our ports to ensure we can always provide fresh produce on board. Also, we work with local farmers and local food markets, for example the Market Hall in Budapest and the markets in Vienna. We obtain seasonal products from local sources, such as strawberries, asparagus, and pumpkin when they are in season.”
Is there a popular or signature dish on board?
“I would say there are many favourite or signature dishes on board; it all depends on the region we are sailing through, such as goulash in Budapest and schnitzel in Vienna. Also, we always provide alternative options on the menu, to cater to everyone’s taste. All dishes can be adapted to dietary requests and customised to the guests’ needs.”
How about the wine-selection process?
“The wines are carefully selected, whenever possible aligning with the region through which we are sailing. We have local vintners along the Danube, for example, and our main suppliers deliver according to our requests. In France all wines are sourced locally and delivered via a supplier to the river cruise vessels.”
Tell us a little about the private dining experiences in the Chef’s Table restaurant (aboard our Concerto River Ships)?
“The Chef’s Table is a small fine-dining venue in the stern of the river ship. A set menu is served here, comprising several courses accompanied by a corresponding wine selection. It showcases products chosen from regional sources and incorporated into the fine-dining experience.”
How are you working through evolving changes to river cruise health and safety requirements?
“We will adapt to the authorities’ health and safety requirements. Hygiene on board our vessels has always been of a very high standard and all measures will be strictly followed.”
What can guests expect to be different in terms of the dining experiences on their next European River Cruise?
“Each and every river cruise on our vessels will be a new and fantastic experience. We are always on top of the wishes of our guests.”
With the launch of APT's newest river cruise program for 2021/2022, consider tasting your way around Europe, enjoying your chosen culinary journey on board. Europe's waterways invite you to explore far and wide so consider APT's 15 Day Magnificent Europe river cruise which provides the ideal starting point to discovering Europe's heartland from Amsterdam to Budapest.