How do you explain what you do to your friends?
Wesley Cort: “I’m lucky enough to have made food and beverage my career, and I care deeply about the culinary experience our guests have onboard our ships. As Vice President Food & Beverage Operations at Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) I work with a very diverse and extremely talented team. They bring their F&B experience from all over the world including China, Spain, France, Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, Colombia and the US.
I’m passionate about bringing world-class food from around the world onboard our vessels so that our guests can have the experience to remember with every meal, with dining being such an important part of any great holiday.
What unusual question does everyone ask you?
Wesley Cort: I’m often asked – “How do you create a menu that will resonate with thousands of people from all over the world?”
We closely follow food trends in the top restaurants from around the world to take inspiration for our menus and new dining outlets on board. We are also inspired by the destinations we sail to such as South America and Asia, ensuring a truly global offering in our food selection onboard. Our team of culinarians and restaurateurs are very knowledgeable and have diverse backgrounds and are well-trained in the culinary arts. We always start with our own research and life experiences, before collaborating with our market research team and finally testing in the market to ensure we are providing creative and authentic menus.
If you were an NCL guest, what would you eat and drink?
Wesley Cort: That’s a tough question! In general, I opt for the healthier choice, so I would select items from Ocean Blue such as the Hamachi Ceviche and the Roasted Tri-Colored Beets to start. This would be followed by the Hong Kong Style Snapper paired with a delicious bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from one of our great wine partners!
What’s your dream destination?
Wesley Cort: Always Italy, where some of my favourite food and beverage journeys have taken place. That’s why I was so excited when we announced the launch of Onda by Scarpetta. I loved the idea of bringing the Italian food I love onto an NCL ship in a bold and modern way. The Fritto Misto and Tagliatelle Bolognese we serve in Onda is as good as I have had anywhere in Italy!
Why would you travel there by NCL?
Wesley Cort: Food is one of the elements travellers will remember vividly about a holiday, and one of the many reasons they choose to travel with NCL.
We start with the excelling in the basics– fantastic, fresh ingredients, menus that are authentic as well as modern, and above all, having some of the best chefs onboard. What might be surprising to some is that we prepare nearly everything “from scratch”, meaning that all sauces, soups, breads and pastry items are made from the basic ingredients. All meats and seafood are freshly prepared onboard. How much fresher and authentic could it get?! I’m very proud of the passion our team brings to giving our guests a fantastic onboard dining experience.
What’s new for Food and Beverage?
Wesley Cort: As a brand, we are known for breaking boundaries, and that extends to the food experience onboard our vessels. We set the standard with freestyle dining, giving guests the freedom and flexibility to choose when and where they wish to dine – whether its dressing up for a three-course meal and a bottle of wine with friends, keeping it casual with a quick burger hot off the grill. This approach has allowed us to broaden the variety of outlets we have onboard in a way that is still unrivalled in our industry. Currently, our F&B team is working tirelessly behind the scenes and I can guarantee that our culture of innovation and striving for excellence will shine through in the next chapter of sailing.
What are you most looking forward to when sailing resumes?
Wesley Cort: I’m looking forward to getting back to what we excel at, bringing the freshest, most authentic and memorable cuisine to our guests, and to sharing some of the very creative things we have been working on during this pause of operation.
Why do you think guests come back to NCL?
Wesley Cort: As we offer a range of culinary experiences beyond one big dining room and a few speciality dining outlets, we can provide a more unique and diverse culinary experience for our guests. Although there is a wide variety of cuisines available onboard our ships, each restaurant offers a specialised menu and unique experience which keeps the standard consistent and high.
One day you could be watching a chef prepare authentic Japanese food in front of you at Teppanyaki, or be served Brazilian-style slow-roasted meats at the table at Moderno Churrascaria. We offer French cruisine at Le Bistro, an American-Style steakhouse at Cagney’s and a taste of the sea at Ocean Blue, to showcase just a few of the restaurants we have onboard. Norwegian Encore, which launched last year, provides guests with 20 dining venues!! This variety in the cuisine we offer really does draw foodies to cruise with us, which I think is very special.
What’s your standout cruise memory?
Wesley Cort: I have many, but one that will always stand out for me was sailing to Asia onboard Norwegian Joy in 2017. Highlights included navigating through the English Channel and circling Portugal and Spain before heading west through the Strait of Gibraltar. A group of us crowded around the stern of the ship on deck 8 to watch the most dramatic of sunsets and enjoy the calmest of seas.
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