NEW YORK — Holland America Line will partner with the popular PBS cooking show "America's Test Kitchen" to provide cooking demonstrations and lessons onboard its ships, the cruise line and network announced during an event last week at the Institute of Culinary Education here.
Its culinary courses will be offered on the Westerdam starting Oct. 18 and on the Nieuw Amsterdam by Nov. 13.
Two types of classes will be offered. A larger, 45-minute demonstration class for up to 200 people will feature a mix of video content, live instruction, taste tests and recipe samples. Salad for Two, We Love Chocolate and Everything Salmon are some of the courses being developed.
Smaller, 90-minute, hands-on classes will provide six to 12 guests the chance to perfect their cake-decorating skills or make fresh pasta. Those classes will cost $39.
Jack Bishop, chief creative officer for "America's Test Kitchen," said the company so far has trained two instructors for the HAL programs, and five more instructors are in the pipeline. Cooks and personalities from the show will make appearances on select cruises, he said.
Holland America's shipboard culinary arts centers will be transformed to replicate the "America's Test Kitchen" set. The work will be completed on all 14 HAL ships by June. The culinary arts center on the recently completed Koningsdam will be tweaked to reflect the "America's Test Kitchen" brand but will remain true to designer Adam Tihany's concept.
The show is based on research done in a 2,500-square-foot kitchen in Brookline, Mass., that employs more than 50 test cooks. Seen on more than 350 PBS stations, it is "by far" the highest-rated cooking show on public television, Bishop said.
The company also has a second show, "Cook's Country," and publishes magazines under that name and Cook's Illustrated as well as cookbooks. It also has an online cooking school and a website with recipes and product evaluations.
HAL is retaining its partnership with Food & Wine magazine, but it will be modified. Neither "America's Test Kitchen" nor "Cook's Country" will be broadcast from the ships, HAL entertainment director Bill Prince said.
The company's hallmark is a scientific approach to recipes. "People pay for our recipes because we do test them to the nth degree," Bishop said. Each recipe is tested 40 to 60 times at an average cost of $10,000.
Use of readily available ingredients is another hallmark of the show. "We want to present dishes the home cook can make whether they are in Sheboygan or here in New York," Bishop said.
HAL president Orlando Ashford said the affiliation gives travel sellers one more way to pitch the cruise line. "Many of their clients are watching these shows already," he said. "'America's Test Kitchen' indexes well with the same demographic as our guests."
Ashford added that the courses will give repeat cruisers a reason to be excited about rebooking HAL. "Our food story was already really good, but we think we can make it better," he said.
Bishop said partnering with HAL adds credibility to his brand and puts it in the company of similarly elevated partners such as BBC Earth, the New York Times and Lincoln Center.
"We like to be onboard with people who are interested in what we're doing," he said. "We can't teach in the test kitchen."