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José Pizarro, the Spanish-born, UK based chef is one of three new ‘local food heroes’ who are partnering with P&O Cruises to bring an authentic taste of the destinations visited by its newest ship Iona in 2020. 

Iona’s maiden winter season will be spent in Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands, and guests will be able to enjoy the culinary creations of José.

The chef is a master of tapas and dedicated to showcasing Spanish cuisine in his three prestigious London restaurants and will now do the same on Iona.  José is designing a bespoke tapas menu for The Glass House, as well as signature Spanish dishes, such as paella in a new dining option- Taste 360.

To bring local flavours into Iona’s dining experiences whilst in the Norwegian Fjords, P&O Cruises has enlisted the help of celebrated Norwegian chef Kjartan Skjelde and photographer and home cook Marte Marie Forsberg.  Kjartanhas created a six course Norwegian tasting menu for The Epicurean restaurant on Iona. Marte Marie is designing a bespoke range of local dishes which will appear in Taste 360. Guests dining in Iona’s main restaurants will be able to sample Norwegian flavours too, with special local dishes appearing across the menus. 

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said “One of the best ways to explore a destination is to try the native dishes that tell stories of the history, culture and lives of the locals. Our new local food heroes will be champions of fresh, seasonal ingredients and recipes that fly the flag for their homelands.  We are privileged to have chefs of their calibre helping us to create authentic dining experiences that reflect the ports we are visiting during Iona’s maiden year.”

Each of the chefs is well known in their own country and further afield:

José Pizarro is from Cáceres in Spain and has now lived in London for 20 years. He grew up on a farm and was inspired by the cooking he saw in his mother and grandmother’s kitchens. In his early career José worked in the Michelin-starred El Chapín de la Reina restaurant in Madrid, before being appointed head chef at award-winning El Mesón de Doña Filo. José then moved to London where he found work at the prestigious Eyre Brothers restaurant before co-founding the Brindisa restaurants. In 2011 he opened his own Tapas bar and now has four restaurants.  José is a regular on cookery programmes such as BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen, the food festival scene and has written four cookery books. His passion for fresh, simple, seasonal ingredients showcases the best of Spanish cuisine.

José said: “The ethos behind my menus is to use top quality, local produce so that the flavours of the region come to life with every mouthful. Working in collaboration with P&O Cruises, I’m excited to bring this dining experience to Iona. From the spicy scent of saffron rising from a bubbling pot of paella in Taste 360, to the rich extra virgin olive oil and smoky pimentón at the base of each dish in The Glass House – guests will truly be able to taste the region during Iona’s holidays to Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands.”

Kjartan Skjelde was born and raised in Stavanger, Norway.  He still lives and works there today as the founder and owner of two restaurants: Tango and the Fish & Cow brasserie. Kjartan is a high profile chef in Norway, having appeared as a judge on TV series MasterChef Norway and Camp Kulinaris, and he has written five cook books. 

Kjartan said: “What is most important for me is to build a strong Nordic cuisine that comes across in every dish I create. Working with P&O Cruises, I want guests to be able to smell, taste and see that each dish of my six-course taster menu for The Epicurean is truly Norwegian. I use local, seasonal ingredients in all of my dishes along with traditional Norwegian cooking methods. I use fish that swim in our cold mountain water, lambs that graze on our salt marshes, beetroots picked from a small local island and cook these ingredients with traditional Norwegian methods – guests will be able to taste Norway through every bite.”

Born and raised in a small coastal town in the south of Norway, Marte Marie Forsberg is a writer, photographer and home cook. Her work focuses on provenance, local ingredients, traditional recipes and beautiful presentation. She has been featured in magazines, newspapers and online articles across the world, from Bon Appétit to Food & Wine. She is author of The Cottage Kitchen, a collection of recipes and photography.

Marte Marie said: “When it comes to Norwegian cuisine, our simplicity sets us apart. Quality of produce is therefore key. Working with P&O Cruises, we will use the best local suppliers to ensure this quality on Iona. This is a huge part of my menus; choosing the ingredients that grow with the seasons so that the experience translates from the landscape straight onto the plate. I will bring traditional Norwegian home-cooked meals to the menus of P&O Cruises main restaurants as well as Taste 360.”

Sample cruises where guests will be able to enjoy the new menus include:

  • G017, Norwegian Fjords, 22 – 29 August 2020, 7 nights from £899 pp.  Departing from and returning to Southampton, ports of call are Stavanger, Olden, Hellesylt, Geiranger and Bergen.
  • G023, Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands, 10 – 24 October 2020, 14 nights from £1,379 pp.  Departing from and returning to Southampton, ports of call are Madeira, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Cadiz,
  • Lisbon.

Norwegian Fjords with Marco Pierre White

P&O Cruises is offering a 7 night cruise on Iona (G013) from £779 per person. Departing July 25, 2020, the price includes Kids’ clubs, full board meals and entertainment on board.
Departing from and returning to Southampton ports of call are Stavanger, Olden, Hellesylt, Geiranger and Bergen.
To book visit,
www.pocruises.com, call 03453 555 111 or visit your local travel agent.

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