Interview with Executive Chef German Rijo – Savor Your Destination culinary cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse – Part 2

As Executive Chef of the Eclipse, Chef Rijo wears many hats.  He manages his culinary team, budgets, menus and numerous galleys.  He is also part entertainer for the culinary events on board the ship, having to appear at most of these events with a major role.  I might add that he is quite good at it and knows how to work a crowd.  It is still, however, very important to this chef, to find time to get in the galley and work with his culinary team.

Guest Chef Dena Marino with Chef Rijo at the Galley Tour

We spoke to Rijo about changes that he has seen over the years in the guest’s dining requirements.  One major change is the number of passengers who now have special dietary needs, allergies or requests.  They have one station to handle all the food for these passengers to ensure their requests are fulfilled.

Celebrity Cruises have always been known for their excellent food and service and continuing this tradition is the responsibility of Chef Rio and his team.  With rising food prices and more demanding patrons, it is a hefty job to fill.

When asked about the changes in their guest’s palate since Chef Rio started with Celebrity, he said that many passengers are more sophisticated diners than they used to be.  They are more open-minded when it comes to dining options (and enjoy restaurants like Qsine, with it’s small plates and global offerings), however, they are also a bit more discriminating and are looking at the details.  There is a real desire by the entire staff to ensure the dining experience on board exceeds expectations.

Sous Chef Akash Gupta at Qsine

One of the dishes from Qsine is served in a Cataplana

We were able to tour several galleys on board the Eclipse.  The galley tour for Moonlight Sonata was quite fascinating.  There is one wall of photos of each dish that will be served during a particular 16 day cruise.  The photographs are accompanied by a complete description of all of the components of the dish and how it is to be composed.  Once again, this ensures consistency throughout the cruise and on other ships.

The culinary team at Moonlight Sonata’s galley

Behind the scene Galley Tour

Menu for a 16 day cruise on board the Eclipse

Plating is described in detail with photographs

How does a chef top this experience and a life at sea after 20 plus years (of going around and around…and around and around again and again and again…!)?  Chef Rio would like to open up a small restaurant of his own some day in either New York or Miami.  He envisions something similar in concept to their casual restaurant on board the Eclipse, Bistro on Five.  He would like to start with something simple and go from there.  He said it worked for Daniel Boulud, so maybe it will work for him. 😉

After meeting this man and seeing him in action for a week on board the ship, I  think there is a television career in Chef Rio’s future.

Thank you so much to Chef Rijo for taking time out of his hectic schedule to meet with us.  It was truly a pleasure.

With Chef Rijo on the Celebrity Eclipse

Disclosure – We received a media package from Celebrity Cruises to experience the Savor the Destination culinary cruise.   I am not compensated in any way for any articles written about the trip and the opinions expressed are my own.


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