Many people, upon introduction to The Wolfsonian’s substantial holdings of ocean liner materials, might imagine the bygone experience of a first-class intercontinental voyage during the golden age of sea travel. In contrast, Anthony Bourdain wondered what the food would be like en route. More specifically, the celebrity chef imagined creating a meal similar to one served aboard great passenger ships like the S.S. Ile de France and the S.S. Normandie.
Now he is getting his chance. And some fortunate guests are going to consume the resulting culinary feast. On February 21 The Wolfsonian—that’s the S.S. Wolfsonian, if you don’t mind—along with the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival and Azamara Club Cruises, presents a dinner hosted by Bourdain and Johannes Tysse, captain of the cruise ship Azamara Journey. Sounds good, right? But there’s more—Bourdain has assembled a crew of celebrity chefs who will join him onboard. Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin) is contributing devilled quail eggs and a lobster bisque; Daniel Boulud (Daniel) is whipping up some fried Blue Point oysters and halibut bonne femme; Andrew Carmellini (The Dutch) is offering a mushroom truffle macaroon hors d’oeuvre and pithivier of pheasant as a main course; other chefs include David McMillan and Frederic Morin (Joe Beef) and Francois Payard (FPV).
“We were thrilled when Wine & Food Festival founder Lee Schrager introduced Anthony Bourdain to The Wolfsonian during last year’s festival. After touring the museum, Anthony said one of his dreams was to curate a meal based on the ocean liner menus in our collection. We were even more thrilled when Lee called to say it was going to happen. We are excited to link our collection and institution to this amazing event, which benefits The Wolfsonian and FIU. We are thankful for the very generous sponsorship of Azamara Club Cruises and its president and CEO Larry Pimentel, and to the festival for making this happen,” says Cathy Leff, The Wolfsonian’s director.
Bourdain had no shortage of inspiration when it came to creating the meal—there are more than four hundred menus in the museum’s ocean liner holdings. The Wolfsonian is a major resource for ocean liner materials, and has in recent years significantly built its collection. “Our objective is to become the repository of choice for these materials, as is fitting given both our strong collection and our location in Miami, an international hub for today’s cruise ship industry,” says Francis X. Luca, The Wolfsonian’s chief librarian.
The approximately twenty-six thousand sea-vessel-related items in the museum’s collection include brochures, deck plans, menus, promotional materials, reference books, and more, largely from the interwar and postwar periods. For a glimpse at some of the materials, see the online library exhibitions The “Good Neighbor Fleet”: Selections from a Gift by Thomas C. Ragan  and Class Distinctions: Selections from the Laurence Miller Collection .
The evening, styled by Cristofle, includes an auction for a cruise for two from Azamara Club Cruises. Proceeds from the sold-out event benefit The Wolfsonian–FIU Endowment Foundation as well as Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, which is one of the beneficiaries of the festival; to date, the festival has raised more than eighteen million dollars for the school. The Wolfsonian thanks Miami Beach’s mayor, Philip Levine, who will attend the event, for introducing the museum to Larry Pimentel and Azamara Club Cruises.
Captions (click to enlarge):
Brochure, The Ile de France, 1927
Léo Fontan, Albert Sebille, René Vincent, and G. Bourdier, illustrators
Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, Paris, publisher
The Wolfsonian–FIU, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection, 84.2.315
Design drawings, Interiors for an ocean liner’s bar and lounge area, 1932–35
Antonio Quaiatti (1904–1992)
Watercolor and graphite on paper
The Wolfsonian–FIU, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection, XX1990.3603–4