The Voyage of the S.S. Wolfsonian

What happens when you pair The Wolfsonian’s historic ocean liner materials with a crew of celebrity chefs, and Martha Stewart drops by for a taste of the action? Some lucky passengers (a.k.a. dinner guests) found out on February 21, when Anthony Bourdain co-hosted a Wolfsonian dinner along with Johannes Tysse, captain of Azamara Club Cruises ship Azamara Journey.

The evening, co-presented by The Wolfsonian, Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and Azamara Club Cruises, featured a five-course meal that harkened back to the elegant days of first-class sea travel.

Some people dream of world domination. As befits a celebrity chef, Bourdain has fantasies involving elaborate, exquisitely prepared, multi-course meals. When he first learned of The Wolfsonian’s extensive collection of sea-vessel-related items, Bourdain told museum director Cathy Leff that he had a long-standing dream of curating a meal based on ocean liner menus. Consequently, The Wolfsonian worked with him to help realize that dream.

“Anthony Bourdain first toured The Wolfsonian during the 2013 Wine and Food Festival, and we were very excited to find out that he was so interested in our ocean liner menus. We are thankful to festival founder Lee Schrager for introducing Anthony to The Wolfsonian, and for helping make this evening a reality,” says Leff. “This event also owes a great debt to Miami Beach’s mayor, Philip Levine, for introducing us to Larry Pimentel and Azamara Club Cruises.”

The result? A coming-together of some of our finest chefs and their offerings: Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin (Smoked Salmon Deviled Quail Egg; Lobster Bisque); Daniel Boulud of Daniel (Crispy Blue Point Oysters, Rémoulade; Slow-Baked Halibut Bonne Femme with Sweet Maine Shrimp); Andrew Carmellini of The Dutch (Mushroom Truffle Macaron; Pithivier of Pheasant); David McMillan and Frederic Morin of Joe Beef (Caroline de Fois Gras et Truffe and Oeuf en Gelée, Crème de Jambon au Celeri, et Truffes), and Francois Payard of FPV (William Pear Belle Helene with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream). Bourdain called the evening a sentimental journey expressing the chefs’ appreciation and nostalgia for long-gone, Continental-style cuisine.

Wolfsonian staff members were hard at work behind the scenes, drawing on the collection to create an atmosphere evocative of ocean travel of yesterday. Many ocean liner–related items from the collection, including menus, advertisements, brochures, and even a Queen Mary purse, were on display in the wall cases lining the walkway between the museum’s lobby and café. A slide show loop showcased more than fifty additional images from the library’s collection.

The evening, styled by Cristofle, included an auction for a cruise for two from Azamara Club Cruises. Revenue raised from the sold-out event totaled more than $200,000, to be shared by The Wolfsonian’s Endowment Fund and the FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

An Evening Aboard the S.S. Wolfsonian received extensive media coverage. While it doesn’t compare to a tasting menu, below is a sampling of news pieces generated by the event, many of which include a generous portion of pictures (and for even more images of ocean-liner materials from the collection, see the blog post on the event by Wolfsonian chief librarian Francis X. Luca):

Ocean Drive, “Anthony Bourdain Hosts An Evening Aboard the S.S Wolfsonian”

World Red Eye, “Anthony Bourdain Hosts an Evening Aboard The SS Wolfsonian with Martha Stewart”

Market Watch/The Wall Street Journal, “Azamara Club Cruises, Anthony Bourdain And The Wolfsonian-FIU Museum To Host South Beach Wine And Food Festival Event”

PopSugar, “An Intimate Look at Anthony Bourdain's Ocean Liner Dinner”, “Azamara’s Captain Johannes and Celebrity Chef Anthony Bourdain Cohost ‘An Evening Aboard the SS Wolfsonian’ ”

MetroCitizen, “The Wolfsonian–FIU and Azamara Club Cruises hosted, ‘An Evening Aboard the S.S. Wolfsonian with Anthony Bourdain’ ”


Captions (click below to enlarge):


Anthony Bourdain in The Wolfsonian’s lobby
Photo: World Red Eye


Eric Ripert and Daniel Boulud
Photo: World Red Eye

Daniel Boulud, Martha Stewart, David McMillan, Frederic Morin, Eric Ripert, Andrew Carmellini, Anthony Bourdain, and Francois Payard
Photo: World Red Eye

One of the offerings on the S.S. Wolfsonian
Photo: World Red Eye

Anthony Bourdain, Eric de Gray, Johannes Tysse, Larry Pimentel, and Robert van Rijsbergen
Photo: World Red Eye

Promotional booklet, Express-Steamer Bremen:  Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen, 1935
Hugo Feldtmann (German, active 1930s), illustrator
Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen, Bremen, publisher
The Wolfsonian–Florida International University, Miami Beach, Florida
The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection
Photo: David Almeida

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The Voyage of the S.S. Wolfsonian
The Voyage of the S.S. Wolfsonian
The Voyage of the S.S. Wolfsonian
The Voyage of the S.S. Wolfsonian
The Voyage of the S.S. Wolfsonian