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An interview with Derek Allen, Head Chef at Tradewind Voyages

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In lockdown times, it is a matter of moments to whisk yourself virtually off to Canada to interview the new Head Chef of startup cruise line Tradewind Voyages, and it was a treat to catch Derek Allen, in deep lockdown, on a snowy November day in Montréal.

Not everyone can trace their passion back to their childhood, but in Derek's case his mother and his grandparents, from Ireland and England, had a huge influence on his life plans, as he spent time with them in their kitchens, learning the magic of conjuring up the most delicious food from local ingredients.

After training in Montréal at the St Pius Xavier Culinary Institute, Derek emerged with top grades and high ambitions, carving himself a steep path to the top via prestigious hotels and high profile cruise lines.

Derek Allen, Head Chef at Tradewind Voyages

He is clearly someone who can pick and choose from his opportunities, so why, I wondered, had he chosen to join this little start-up?

"I knew and trusted the Product Director Oliver Hammerer, so I was intrigued to go and take a look at the ship in the yard in Croatia, and I was really blown away", said Derek, whose first huge task is to fit out Golden Horizon's pristine galley from scratch. And that's just the start of it…

In these months of preparation, menus need to be planned, using fresh food wherever possible, so Derek's job will be to identify where the best ingredients can be sourced, as the ship sails the ancient trade routes, and away from the crowds. He is clearly fired up by the Tradewind Voyages 'eat well and be well' philosophy, and loves the opportunity to balance healthy options with indulgence.

Tradewind Voyages - Golden Horizon

He will have 19 cooks in his team, but is also very hands-on with a clear vision about how everything should be prepared. As the date for the first cruise approaches, with a shakedown from Lisbon to Portsmouth scheduled for April 2021, Derek needs to start interviewing and appointing his team. He has some great CVs to choose from.

After a summer close to home in the UK, when many people will get the opportunity to marvel at the beauty of the world's largest square rigged sailing ship, Golden Horizon will reposition via the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean and set course eastwards, using the winds and ocean currents to power her where possible. Derek is studying the itineraries to create the perfect menus, including beach picnics and local dishes along the way, as he comes closer to his favourite part of the world, Asia. His little son Atticus lives in the Philippines.

Tradewind Voyages - Golden Horizon - Restaurant

In the meantime, what is he getting up to? Well, he is fit and active, spending plenty of time in the gym, with maybe a little skiing at Mont-Tremblant in Québec, but he also has an artistic streak and loves to paint and play the guitar.

It is unusual to find a cruise line whose head office is in the UK - Tradewind Voyages opened its Suffolk offices last year and has assembled an enthusiastic and ambitious team, who are sourcing their first clients here before expanding further afield as they add more ships to the fleet. No wonder, then, they have chosen a chef who is so closely attuned to the British mentality. His chef hero is Marco Pierre White, he has worked with P&O, and his father comes from Gloucestershire (and he can pronounce it too!).

Download the Tradewind Voyages brochure

Launching in 2021, Tradewind Voyages is a brand new cruise line, operating the world's largest square-rigged sailing vessel, the Golden Horizon. Download the brochure for a taste of what to expect from this remarkable ship.

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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