Possibly the most exciting culinary collaboration on the Norwegian Cruise line to date, we wanted to find out more about the Pubbelly Boys and their vision for Food Republic on Norwegian Escape.
Driven, talented and with an obvious flair for creating the latest trends in culinary experiences – who better than the Pubbelly Boys to put their name to Food Republic – one of the most exciting new restaurants to come to NCL’s Norwegian Escape? The skilled trio began their crusade on the hospitality industry with their ultra-hip restaurant based near Miami Beach. Serving up Asian inspired cuisine with a contemporary, rustic twist Pubbelly has come to be a favourite dining hotspot for locals and visitors alike. Each of the Pubbelly Boys has a wealth of experience to their name, Managing Director Andreas Schreiner has been in the industry since the age of 14, working at his family restaurant – Augusto’s Cuisine, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Since then he’s worked his way through some of the most illustrious hotels in the US including those from Hyatt, Four Seasons and the acclaimed Elysian Hotel in Chicago where he had the noted position of General Manager.
Jose Mendin is the Culinary Director (and we were lucky enough to interview him for our feature below!) of the Pubbelly Boys and hailing from a foodie family, it definitely seems like a natural fit. Studying cookery at Johnson & Wales University in Miami, Jose went on to become part of the opening team for Nobu in Miami and Nobu in Hyde Park, London. Jose spent time developing his creativity by working with other talented chefs Jesus Ramiro and Juan Pablo Felipe and spent time in Michelin 5* restaurants – he’s even cooked for the Prince of Spain! Having received press for his work in the likes of Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Departures and The Cooking Channel – Jose is part of a dining revolution right now… and we have a feeling he’s only just getting started!
With a degree in Culinary Arts, Sergio Navarro is the third and final piece to the Pubbelly trio. Exceptionally skilled at his craft, Sergio has spent time working in many of Spain’s top kitchens and under his guidance as a Sous and Pastry Chef at La Broche, the restaurant received two Michelin stars. With a definitive talented for pairing and mixing ingredients to create unique flavours, Sergio clearly takes great pride in not only how his dishes taste, but also how they are presented. This natural flair for design has led Sergio to become the Chief Designer for the Pubbelly brand and as a result Sergio is responsible for the much-loved and talked about interior design of each of the Pubbelly restaurants.
By now we bet your interest is most certainly piqued! So read on to find out how the talented trio plan to bring their culinary expertise aboard the Norwegian Escape!
1. First off, we’d love to know more about how the collaboration between NCL and the Pubbelly Boys came about?
Norweigan approached us about more than year ago and told us they were considering us for a concept they were developing called Food Republic. The concept was like a food market were the guest could order from 3 different kitchens. We then pitched to them our vision of the concept where we could serve the best that Pubbelly has to offer, combining Sushi Bar, Tapas Bar, Rices, Noodles & Grill….. they loved it.
2. We’ve seen 3D Renderings of the Food Republic interior and it looks fantastic – were you guys hands-on in the design process?
The design was more Norwegian vision with some of our touches and textures. Honestly I think it will be gorgeous.
3. How long did it take to design the menu for Food Republic?
The menu was a very long process, I will say between 6 to 8 months.
4. Where did your inspirations come from for the menu?
We wanted to give a taste of Pubbelly on board, but we added new items as well. We have 3 different kitchens in the restaurant:
- Sushi Bar, tiraditos, ceviches, salads
- Tapas, dumplings, rices & noodles
- Grill, skewers, seafood & steak
We wanted to fill these stations with the best flavors Pubbelly & me (Chef Jose Mendin) can give.
5. You guys have experienced lots of different dishes from around the world, but what would you say is your favourite dish to cook?
We have been know for cooking pork. And our signature dish is my Pork Belly with butterscotch miso, it’s like pork candy.
6. Pubbelly boys are known for certain signature dishes, will you be bringing any of these onboard? If so which ones?
Pork Belly with Butterscotch Miso, Dates with Chorizo, Shortrib Dumplings, Kimchee Fried Rice, Amberjack w lemongrass romesco, Ceviche taquitos, Butter Crab Roll, among others.
7. If an on board guest only dined at Food Republic once during their time on board, what would you say they should definitely try?
The dishes I mentioned above. But they should navigate through the menu like an adventurous traveller.
8. In terms of innovation, Food Republic is one of the most advanced in terms of service. What made you decide to use iPads as part of the ordering process?
Norweigan is always looking on new ideas to make service better, we will be the 1st ones to do this type of service in any of their ships, its very cool and interactive, we have been part of the process the whole time and our amazing photographer took great pictures of the food. I can’t wait to see the guests reaction.
9. Will any of you be getting the chance to spend any time working in the Food Republic restaurant?
Me(the chef), Sergio Navarro(pastry chef) & Andreas Schreiner (front of the house) are all going to Germany in October for 3 weeks to train all the staff. We will not be on the ship once it opens all the time but we will go every determined time to work and check on things. We are very excited about this partnership and the opportunity to take Pubbelly’s Cuisine and experience on sea.
10. What part are you most looking forward in launching Food Republic on the Norwegian Escape?
Looking forward to people from all over the world to experiencing what Pubbelly has to offer, seeing their reaction to our food and restaurant culture.
Well that brings us to the end of our interview with Jose. Are you excited about trying the dishes at Food Republic or have you dined with the Pubbelly Boys before? Let us know in the comments below or over on our Twitter with @CruiseNation.