SPECIALTY RESTAURANT FEATURE
THE TODD ENGLISH
QUEEN MARY 2
Including a conversation with Executive
Chef Mark Oldroyd
Richard H. Wagner
On most cruise ships, the specialty restaurant is at the top of the
pyramid. Passengers pay an additional fee for a premium quality meal
and a fine dining experience.
On Queen Mary 2, however, the usual model does not hold. QM2 is
a ship that prides itself on its cuisine and the fine dining experience in
its main dining rooms. "At Cunard Line, we are renown for actually
sitting down, dining and enjoying the experience of having many
courses. People who come here want to sit down, be waited upon and
enjoy every course, savour the flavor and have nice wine with it,"
explains QM2 Executive Chef Mark Oldroyd, who has responsibility for
all of the ship's dining venues. "I class all of our dining outlets as
equal. The quality is the same everywhere. We use the same brand of
meat in [all the] restaurants. So, if you have a steak in the Grills or in
the Britannia or the Todd English, it is the same quality."
Then what distinguishes the Todd English specialty restaurant from
QM2's main dining rooms? "Todd English is our celebrity chef. [The
restaurant] is another premium outlet that the guests can come and dine
in. So it is just something else we offer the guests." Thus, the goal is
not to provide an experience that is superior to that offered in the main
dining rooms but rather one that is different than the main dining rooms.
Consistent with this goal, the dishes served in the Todd English
restaurant are not simply premium versions of familiar traditional
favorites but rather reflect Chef English's unique style of cooking. "We
are just offering a twist from a celebrity's point of view. It is just a
different culinary experience. We have our fine Grills here which offer
very traditional, contemporary and classical food. Then we have the
main restaurant which is basically the same but without as much
choice. When you come to the Todd English, it is a bit more
contemporary, if we can say it like that."
"I would say that Todd English's style is very homey but he has the
Mediterranean style influences in it. It is all olives and olive oils and it
is all fresh, vibrant ingredients; flavorsome ingredients. It is a twist
from the Mediterranean; I'm not just saying that, it is a bit of everything
really. The Todd English food is really rich and so it is for diners who
really enjoy strong flavors."
Despite Chef English's name and the fact that his sea-going
restaurant is on a famous British ship, Todd English is an American with
an Italian heritage. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America,
English apprenticed at New York's La Cote Basque at its height in the
1980s. He then re-located to Italy where he developed his own
Returning to the United States, he achieved notoriety in the Boston,
Massachusetts area, first as executive chef at Michela's and then with his
own restaurant Olives. Since then he has received numerous awards,
written three cookbooks and appeared on American television. He now
owns seventeen restaurants in places such as New York, Las Vegas, and
Inasmuch as Chef English is better known in the United States than
in Britain, Americans coming aboard QM2 are often more familiar with
both his name and his style of cooking than their British shipmates.
"Because he is a little bit more well known, we do find [the restaurant]
is busier on the American cruises but the English do like it as well."
Chef English's style also has an impact on the age group that his
restaurant attracts. "The Todd English is a little more contemporary.
You will find that we get a bit more of the younger crowd in here as
Since Chef English is a celebrity chef whose responsibilities include
other restaurants, he cannot be on Queen Mary 2 on each voyage cooking
each meal that is served in his restaurant. "Our main connection with
Todd is our Culinary Ambassador Jean Marie Zimmerman. They
collaborate together and talk about the menu, what was popular, what
was not and they will change that. Of course, Todd English is the main
person who decides everything for here."
Although Chef English cannot be onboard all the time, he does visit
QM2 regularly. "All Todd English food has Todd English recipes. We
always follow the recipes and every time Todd English comes, he is
very happy with what he sees. He tastes everything, which he has to
because it is his name on the door."
In addition, Chef English's staff works with QM2's culinary team.
"When a new menu comes out, Michael who is the chef from Olives and
another sous chef will come here and we go through all of the dishes
with them. They come on a regular basis."
To maintain Chef English's unique style, the Todd English Restaurant
on QM2 is removed from the ship's other dining venues. "Todd English
has its own independent galley. All food for Todd English is cooked in
this galley only. They will prepare every single thing in this galley.
There is nothing which is made anywhere else. Everything is made
fresh. We have nothing pre-prepared. All the steaks, all the duck
breasts - it is all cooked to order."
“The chefs that we have working in Todd English are dedicated to
Todd English. They know the style, his way of cooking and things like
that so we keep them here. Most of the chefs have interacted with Todd
or have interacted with Michael or the other chefs who have been here
to teach so they know their cooking style."
Along the same lines, the restaurant maintains a separate group of
waiters and staff. "They are hand-picked on style and knowledge. We
do a training program with them - - we will cook the whole menu, they
will taste the menu and then we will describe each dish to them. So
everyone has been educated on the food all the time."
Similarly, "the sommeliers that are up here are experienced with the
menu and they know which wines pair with the dishes that we have on
The menu in the Todd English Restaurant is not static. "We like to
change it at least once a year. We always think about our guests and
what their needs are. That is why we have things like the surf and turf
on because we know that is what they like - - the salmon and the paella
[as well]. A lot of the flavors are very vibrant and adventuresome.
People do like it." (Compare a Todd English 2008 dinner menu with a
2010 dinner menu)
On sea days, the Todd English is open for both lunch and dinner.
"The lunch menu is a bit more simple. We add a few more pasta dishes
at lunch time and also Todd's pizza is on at lunch time as well. It differs
quite a lot in the selection. Lunchtime is more homey. Dinner is a bit
"People come mainly for dinner. The Todd English at night is like a
little get-away, especially if the [guests] are dining in the Britannia
[QM2's large main dining room]. Some people like to get away from the
vast dining experience and just come in here and have an intimate
The restaurant can accommodate over 100 guests at full capacity.
Unlike many restaurants, the Todd English does not seek to turn over the
house during the course of an evening. "Once a guest books a table, it is
his or hers for the night. You can really relax."
Executive Chef Mark Oldroyd
Cruise ship specilaty restaurant review and interview - - Cunard - - Queen Mary 2 - - Todd English Restaurant - page 1
This feature consists of three parts - -
Inside View - QM2 Executive Chef Mark Oldroyd:
Introdution to the Todd English Restaurant......... Page One
Todd English Restaurant Review........................Page Two
Photo Essay - "The Chef's Choice" -
Executive Chef Mark Oldroyd Discusses
Some Selections From The Todd English Menu...Page Three
INTRODUCTION TO THE TODD ENGLISH
A Conversation with QM2 Executive Chef Mark Oldroyd
The Todd English has its own galley and its own dedicated team of chefs.
At the restaurant's entrance is a bar where
guests can enjoy tappas and a drink before
The main dining area has tables for two,
tables for groups and tables with
cushioned benches that can accommodate
On the starboard side, dived from the
main dining area by the bar, is a small
group of tables.