Chef Mark serves some of the best food in the Asia Pacific

Dream Cruises Explorer Dream has been making waves – quite literally – since it began summer deployment to Australia on 27 October.

One of the most exciting aspects of a voyage upon the Explorer Dream is its culinary delights. The vessel has 17 food and drink venues on board, catering to every mood, taste, and desire.

Award-winning Australian chef Mark Best has brought his flair to the Explorer Dream’s specialty restaurant, Seafood Grill by Mark Best. Visitors will enjoy the finest-quality oysters, king crab, crayfish, and tiger prawns, with the option to watch their dishes being crafted from the chef’s table. There’s also ample al fresco seating, allowing guests to enjoy the beautiful vista as they indulge in exciting, innovative cuisine.

Foodies are well-catered to with Dream Cruises’ range of bar and dining concepts on board. Guests can opt for their favourie dishes from the Japanese, Chinese, Southeast Asian and Italian restaurants onboard, including Umi Uma sushi and teppanyaki restaurant, Palm Court, Mozzarella Ristorante & Pizzeria, Matcha Ice plus a gelateria and “cake corner” for those with a sweet tooth.

For a truly memorable experience, the Champagne Brunch at Seafood Grill is unmissable. Honouring his Antipodean roots, Chef Best offers guests the chance to try Vegemite on sourdough toast, or throw themselves into a full Aussie breakfast, crafted from the very best ingredients. And the indulgence doesn’t stop there; brunch is served with a glass of Champagne or beer, alongside coffee, tea, and soft drinks.

We spoke to Explorer Dream’s resident Australian chef about his latest venture.

10 Questions with Mark Best

1. What’s the inspiration behind your amazing new cruise menu?

I’m lucky to have a team from all around the world. I draw inspiration from their native cuisines and the food they share, so there’s a definite Malaysian, Punjabi, and Sri Lankan influence. It’s an exciting, diverse menu! I am also inspired by the many ports we visit and the diversity of cultures and cuisines. With the Explorer Dream’s inaugural cruise to New Zealand waters I am excited by their traditions and the wonderful local ingredients like wild venison and paua (abalone).

Seafood Grill by Mark Best

2. Do you have a favourite port?

Yes, it’s Georgetown in Penang, Malaysia. It’s a beautiful UNESCO site, and in the bustling market you’ll find diverse and amazing local food, like the tangy assam laksa, which is for me, the definitive version.

3. What type of challenges do you face in a seafaring restaurant as opposed to on land?

It’s mostly logistical. I need to ensure the restaurant has enough of the right fresh ingredients. And once we have our ingredients, the next issue is finding somewhere to store them. Our two tonnes of bananas – which we go through on a weekly basis – have their own room!

4. When you’re not whipping up the finest cuisine on the seas, what do you like to do in your free time?

I’m a keen photographer! I started learning at school and it’s been a hobby ever since. I particularly enjoy portraiture. I don’t take pretty pictures or ones that flatter the subject. I look for a certain truth in the image, something that speaks to the character of the subject. You can find my work on my website www.markbest.com.au

5. What’s the best cruise you’ve ever been on?

There are loads to choose from, but the most epic was aboard the brand new Genting Dream, from Bremerhaven, Germany to Hong Kong. We sailed down the coast of France and Spain to Gibraltar and then across the Mediterranean to the entrance of the Suez Canal at Port Said. The desert sunrises were particularly awe-inspiring!

6. What is your interest in local food, and why did you choose to incorporate this in your restaurants onboard Dream Cruises vessels?

The joy of being an Australian chef is the cultural diversity of my home city, Sydney. Some 135 language groups are represented, the culture, cuisine, ingredients and social customs. It is an incredible inspiration and has become the way I cook. My inspiration is always the ingredient and travelling to such diverse ports means I am constantly inspired.

A meal in Blue Lagoon

7. What do you enjoy most about working with Dream Cruises?

For me I feel I am part of a family. Every time I join the ship it is like a home coming.

8. What are three items you would find in Mark Best’s fridge?

Wine! Bacon and free range eggs

9. What has been your most inspirational food experience whilst travelling?

There have been a few inspirational moments. My first time in France. We drove to every departement in France over a 6 week period studying the diversity of country cuisine. Another inspirational moment was travelling to China for the first time and just being astounded at the regional differences

10. What is your go-to meal when you are cooking at home?

The go-to dish is a free-range chicken which I break down into its major pieces. I then grate an entire head of garlic and a large knob of ginger, Korean chilli flakes, salt and sesame oil. Toss all of this together and then roast in a heavy cast iron pan at 180c until golden and fragrant. I usually make fat oven roasted chips with this and a simple salad of young leaves dressed with apple cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Wine to accompany of course.

For information and bookings, visit dreamcruiseline.com, phone 1300 658 666 or contact your preferred travel partner.

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