Setting the stage as an epic explorer yacht cruising through the pristine East Indonesian Archipelago, Aqua Blu is navigating the region’s most prized destinations, including Komodo National Park, Spice Islands and Raja Ampat on unforgettable 7- and 12-night itineraries.
But, the excitement doesn’t end with the ports of call, in fact, things are just heating up as guests sit down for meals on-board prepared by Chef Cross. Born in Australia and based in Bali since 2008, the visionary boasts a well-traveled culinary resume. Guests of Aqua Blu can expect more than one hundred recipes that together showcase a refined journey of flavors from Asia to the Middle East, at the same time reflecting Indonesia’s role as the heart of the global spice trade in the 16th and 17th centuries. To get a better sense of how he’ll execute his culinary vision for Aqua Blu, we sat down with Chef Cross to learn more about his unique approach.
At what point did you realize your passion for cooking was something you wanted to develop into a career?
As a young child, I always dreamt of travelling the world and experiencing different cultures, as I grew older I began to develop a passion for cooking and realized that I could combine the two by becoming a chef.
You have an extremely well-traveled resume. What part of the world has influenced your cuisine the most?
I would have to say it’s a combination of a few things. Kicking off my career in Australia was a great introduction to subtly combining different cuisines, but then travelling around the world is where I learnt different flavours and techniques of cooking.
You’ve been based in Bali for over a decade. How does the multicultural nature of region inspire your work?
The landscape here is pretty amazing and the produce is some of the best, particularly some of the seafood we can get from the islands. I also feel inspired by the people Bali attracts- so many different cultures and ideas, especially the restaurant scene.
What about the Aqua Expeditions’ East Indonesia sailing project made you most excited?
When the opportunity was introduced to me, I thought it was a progressive step for me in my career and also a great opportunity for me to continue evolving, and the partnership between our venues and Aqua Blu seem a great brand fit.
Tell us more about the culinary delights that Aqua Blu guests can expect while on board.
The menu draws inspiration from Indonesian, European and the Mediterranean cuisines where diners can go on a journey through their meals. It was important for me to make sure people were not eating the same food everyday so I have created over 160 dishes that can be enjoyed.
What has been the most challenging part of delivering an epic dining experience for guests while at sea? The most fun?
One of the biggest challenges is we need to look at each port and see what the best ingredients are at each area and take that into account as this will determine a large part of the menu. This can make planning and organising a little challenging but I am also really excited about this and what we will get our hands on and how creative we can be with the ingredients we get.
Can you share your personal favorite spot along the Aqua Blu’s route along the Spice Islands?
I haven’t done the whole spice islands trip yet but I have to say one of my favourite islands in Indonesia is Moyo Island. The island is mostly uninhabited and the entire coastline of Moyo Island has been declared a marine conservation area, it’s spectacular!
If you could distill your style of cuisine into one word, what would it be?
To discover more about how Aqua Expeditions caters to modern-day adventurers seeking active exploration in destinations across the world, contact your SmartFlyer travel advisor.