To coincide with the arrival of Queen Anne and Cunard sailing as four, our employee-led network REACH is shining a spotlight on our talented Cunard Chefs and celebrating cultural diversity through food.

Our first story is from Roland Sargunan, Executive Chef onboard Queen Elizabeth…

“My career at sea began back in 1998 when I embarked on this adventurous journey as a Commis de Cuisine on Queen Elizabeth 2. With dedication and passion, I steadily climbed the ranks, honing my skills and mastering the artistry of cooking.

Over my 26 years with Cunard, I’ve gained a wealth of experience, navigating different cuisines, techniques and the challenges that come with life at sea. Along the way, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside many talented chefs, each passing on their knowledge and expertise, enriching my culinary journey.

Having worked on Queen Elizabeth 2, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and now Queen Elizabeth as Executive Chef, my career development is an achievement I’m very proud of, and testament to Cunard as a great company to work for. Everyone treats each other with respect and we’re like a family at sea. Starting as a young chef, I’ve grown into a professional Executive Chef, thanks to all the guidance that I’ve received throughout the years.

Chef Roland with the brigade on Queen Elizabeth

One of my highlights working on board, besides being an Executive Chef, is that I recently got engaged to my girlfriend, in a surprise flash mob performance on Queen Victoria. This will definitely go down in history for us and for our Cunard family!

My favourite port

Barcelona is fantastic for paella and tapas. One great spot to try is Can Solé, a charming, family-run restaurant that’s been in the Barceloneta neighbourhood since 1903. I recommend their seafood paella, which is cooked to perfection with a rich, flavourful broth and a variety of fresh seafood. As for tapas, don’t miss their patatas bravas –  crispy fried potatoes served with a spicy tomato sauce, and the grilled octopus, tender and packed with flavour. And here’s a little secret – ask for the daily specials. They often feature seasonal ingredients and unique dishes you won’t find on the regular menu.

A taste of my culture

Growing up in Malaysia, Chicken Kapitan was a staple dish at family gatherings and festive celebrations. Its rich and complex flavours, blending the sweetness of coconut milk with the tanginess of tamarind and the heat of spices, always evoke a sense of nostalgia for me. Each bite is a journey through the vibrant culinary landscape of Malaysia, reminding me of home no matter where I am.

My mum’s first lovingly prepared dish ignited my fascination with its complex flavours and cultural significance. Today, I continue to honour Malaysia’s rich culinary heritage through dishes like Chicken Kapitan, celebrating the country’s vibrant flavours wherever the sea may take me.”

Chef Roland’s recipe for Chicken Kapitan:

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
  • 5-6 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, sliced thinly
  • 5-6 dried red chilies, soaked and deseeded
  • 1 inch galangal, chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Cooking oil
  • Fresh coriander for garnish

Instructions:

  • Blend the shallots, garlic, lemongrass, dried chilies, galangal, ginger, and shrimp paste into a smooth paste. Add some water to assist the blending process.
  • Heat some oil in a pan and sauté the paste until fragrant and the oil begins to split from the paste.
  • Add the chicken pieces and cook until they are lightly browned on all sides.
  • Mix in the tamarind paste, coconut milk, and palm sugar. Stir well.
  • Cover and let it simmer on low heat until the chicken is tender. Remove the lid and simmer until the sauce thickens.
  • Season with salt to taste and garnish with fresh coriander before serving.

Thanks for sharing your story and favourite dish with us, Roland! We’ll be sharing more stories from our Cunard chefs over the coming weeks, so keep a look out.

Celebrating culture through food in Carnival House

The Atrium Café will be serving a variety of lunch specials next week to celebrate different cultures – look out for the menu in the Weekly Update on Friday. Plus, on Wednesday 29 May, the team from REACH will be in the Atrium with snacks and treats for everyone to enjoy, so be sure to pop along and say hello!

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