We Tried It! America's Test Kitchen on Holland America

by  Jason Leppert | Jan 31, 2017

Want to perfect your cooking skills? Thanks to a new partnership with the popular PBS cooking show “America’s Test Kitchen,” Holland America Line is offering a new cooking class program. We checked it out on a recent sailing to see what was cooking.

What It’s Really Like

The program includes two choices: a 45-minute demonstration and a 90-minute hands-on workshop, and I sat in on a demo. 

After witnessing the ship’s Queen’s Lounge quickly fill up for the presentation, I started to understand the popularity of the brand.

In my class, the personable chef energized the crowd as she prepared everything from Asian dumplings to new Italian favorites in the onboard demonstration kitchen, which was not yet fully refit for the new program. (The kitchen is being redesigned to more closely resemble the actual test kitchen from the TV show soon.)

The chef was a Holland America employee, but she was indeed trained by "America's Test Kitchen," and it showed. She talked a lot about the efforts the 50-person TV team makes to tirelessly evaluate every recipe, all of which are verified by 10,000 home testers before finally being presented on air or on the ships.

While the class was live, overhead displays played an intro video from the show's TV hosts before the session, and they continued to chime in with tips throughout the class. For example, video clips recommended the best steamer models for making our dumplings, and how to create a makeshift one ourselves. 

As the chef worked, she made helpful suggestions (such as advising not to rinse pasta unless it's for pasta salad) and her techniques were broadcast on the overhead displays so everyone could follow along regardless of where they were sitting. And while some items were pre-prepared, most of the dishes were made in person before our very eyes. The experience felt polished and professional, but personal too: At one point, the chef joked that she wished the captain would steady the ship so her butter would melt more evenly. 

The only surprising omission from the class: we weren’t offered a sample of the culinary creations.

The Verdict

Perhaps the greatest thing about the demonstration class — beside the mouthwatering sights, sounds, and smells— is that they're complimentary. Anyone can sit in for the demos and take away high-gloss, heavy-stock recipe postcards and plenty of cooking suggestions to try on their own. The 90-minute workshops, which also fill up fast, cost $39 per person.

Want in? The program, which first launched on Westerdam in late 2016, is rolling out to the rest of the fleet by June 2017.

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