An interview with Franck Garanger, Corporate Chef at Oceania Cruises

Meet the Experts

43 year old Franck Garanger was born in Angers, located in the Loire Valley. His father was a patisserie-boulangerie, so from a young age Franck was involved with food. He made the decision that although he loved pastry he wanted to widen his culinary horizons and become a chef, working as an apprentice in a Michelin Star restaurant "Le Vert D'Eau" in Angers under the tutelage of French Master Chef Jean-François Piers. His two year apprenticeship was very tough but acted to cement his love for cooking.

It was at this time his talent was recognized as he reached the final of a nationwide competition for apprentice chefs. Time at several top restaurants followed, including the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, with renowned chefs including Paul Bocuse, Alain Passard and Thierry Marx. However at the age of 22 Franck went back to school to get more generally qualified in hospitality with the goal to become a head chef.

How Franck got into the world of cruising is both fascinating and hilarious. In 1994 a good friend of his from Angers - who just so happened to be nephew of Silversea's Christian Sauleau - persuaded him to apply for a job onboard Silversea's brand new ship Silver Wind. The only problem was that at the time Franck didn't speak a word of English. His English speaking friend rang Silversea pretending to be Franck and low and behold he got the job.

Once onboard it quickly became apparent that his English was not up to scratch, so this skilled chef was sent to work on the egg station whilst the ship spent three weeks at sea readying itself for the arrival of guests. Unfortunately the pastry chef onboard had a family crisis just before the inaugural sailing so the culinary team were brought together to see if anyone had the necessary skills. Franck, drawing from his experience with both his father and past training and with his limited English recognised the term pastry chef, volunteered for the job and one trio of tarte tartin later, he was officially Silver Wind's pastry chef. On just his second contract where his English has dramatically improved he was promoted to Sous Chef status, in 1997 an Executive Chef and finally in 1999 Corporate Chef.

Success at Silversea was recognised by Oceania and has overseen the cuisine across the Oceania fleet ever since the company's inception in 2003, where it and he has gone from strength to strength. Franck typically spends 50 percent of his time onboard, where he oversees each and every restaurant ensuring standards are at the very highest. During my time aboard he was very visible, speaking with guests, striding from restaurant to restaurant and interacting with his skilled team of onboard chefs. When not aboard he lives in Spain guiding Oceania's culinary direction. Oceania's new ship Marina has given him the opportunity to introduce new cuisine to the already stunning repertoire onboard. Red Ginger has seen the introduction of one of his favourite cuisines with a fusion of Thai, Malaysian and Japanese food and it is a complete triumph, becoming the most popular venue onboard.

From a cuisine perspective he sees both Crystal and RSSC as the competition, but feels nobody does it better than Oceania. His inspiration is classic French chef Paul Bocuse who during his career not only trained a host of great chefs, but has achieved the holy grail of a Three-Michelin star restaurant.

Favourite ports of call include the Seychelles which he tells me is because this was on his very first itinerary and anywhere in Brazil. As a very keen runner (he recently completed a 100 mile race through the under 40 hours) he likes the Mediterranean as he knows the ports well and can run around the destinations visited - essential if you are surrounded by the quality and quantity of food found on Oceania.

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Edwina Lonsdale
Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and, together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising.

More about Edwina

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