Golf lover: Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, who operates the Ocean Blue restaurant on the Norwegian Breakaway, told an audience on the ship: “As I recall it (Bermuda) didn’t have the greatest restaurants on the island but I think that’s changed.” *Photo by Don Burgess
Golf lover: Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, who operates the Ocean Blue restaurant on the Norwegian Breakaway, told an audience on the ship: “As I recall it (Bermuda) didn’t have the greatest restaurants on the island but I think that’s changed.” *Photo by Don Burgess

Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian is more impressed with Bermuda’s golf courses than its restaurants. 

The Food Network star is the executive chef at the Water Club in Borgota at Atlantic City, New Jersey and the Lamb’s Club in New York City. He also owns Country in the Carlton Hotel in NYC.

He was on the Norwegian Breakaway for the opening of his latest restaurants — Ocean Blue and the Raw Bar.

The culinary giant told a packed audience onboard the ship: “I haven’t been to Bermuda in about five years but I used to go quite regularly. As I recall it didn’t have the greatest restaurants on the island, but I think that’s changed. 

“I love Bermuda and I love playing at the Mid Ocean Club. There are beautiful courses in Bermuda. There are more golf courses per square acre than any other place in the world.”

He was asked if he had ever been intimidated?

“I don’t want to brag, but I have never really felt that feeling in my life. But I felt scared all the time and I’m always scared to fail. Failing really bothers me. I want to be three or four steps ahead of everybody else and if I’m not, I’m really scared. That’s my mechanism to get ahead.”

Mr Zakarian has been successful with his restaurant in New York and said anyone who wants to earn their chops as a chef has to go there and test themselves against the best. 

“There are 27,000 restaurants in New York — it’s an incredible place. For me, that’s the place to be. If you’re a chef and you want to make it, then you have to come to New York. 

He said while Chicago, Austin, Dallas, Los Angeles and Portland all have great restaurants, “New York is where you come to cut your teeth. There are so many incredible chefs in New York City”.

He said most of the top 100 chefs are in New York.

“There are all these incredible chefs and all these incredible restaurants, it’s like paradise when you come to New York.”

He said his Ocean Blue on the Breakaway has been packed for the opening two-day cruises and it will be bigger on the Getaway, the sister ship of the Breakaway, which will sail out of Miami after it is built.

Chef Zakarian said that after he was asked to do a restaurant for Norwegian, he found it incredible that very few ships had a fine dining seafood eatery. 

“I did some research on the cruise ship industry and other than sushi, there weren’t many seafood restaurants. That strikes me as so odd as you come to a port and go to a port.”

He said that made it an easy decision to do a luxury seafood restaurant.

Not fussy

“I wanted to do something that wasn’t fussy but very particular and very simple. 

“We source the best product. All the purveyors we handpick in Miami and New York so we’re on a first-name basis on who sells us our fish. We know who sells us the tomatoes and who sells us the tuna. 

“So when you go to the Raw Bar and you have the tuna with the green tomatoes, the quality is incredible.

“I’m opening this restaurant Ocean Blue. It could be midtown Manhattan but it happens to be on a ship.”

Chef Zakarian said he handpicked the staff for the restaurant and trained them at the Lamb’s Club. 

His wife helped designed the tabletops so it became a family involved project.

“I would do this restaurant in Manhattan any day.”