It’s not just about the destination. It’s about the journey.
We found new life in this platitude when we sat down with Jean-Pierre Guerin, the award-winning Onboard Executive Head Chef of Rocky Mountaineer. After 10 years with the luxury train line, Guerin has gotten to know their rail routes exceptionally well. But what is most notable is how Guerin has been able to elevate a guest’s onboard dining experience through food trends, remaining true to taste, and weaving in stories from the trains’ surroundings. Recently, Guerin was able to sit down with 7travel to dish on how much the culinary experience plays a role in an entire Rocky Mountaineer trip.
7travel: What role does the food take in a Rocky Mountaineer experience?
Guerin: When you take our train, you spend an average of 10 hours a day on that train. Of that 10 hours, you probably spend 3 hours dining. So we have to make sure that the culinary experience matches the rest of the experience. It’s not just the scenery, it’s not just the destination. It’s all part of the journey.
7travel: How would you describe the meals you serve on board?
Guerin: A lot of sophistication comes on board with our guests, so every year when we create menus, we keep in mind food trends, staying very contemporary but still keeping an element of comfort. Our food is kind of fusion in nature with a lot of Asian influence. We balance comfort food, modern food, with fusion in between.
7travel: What’s the most popular dish onboard?
Guerin: On Rocky Mountaineer, the most popular dish is braised short ribs. It’s been on the menu for years. It cooks in wine for hours and hours - it’s comfort food and very appealing to our guests. We also have a salmon - but we serve it many different ways. At breakfast time, we have smoked salmon with eggs, caviar, and a little creme fraiche. But we always serve salmon as a dish. It’s a dish that everyone likes. We may change the way it’s cooked, but we always serve a salmon.
7travel: Do you try to pair the meals you serve to scenery guests see out of their windows?
Guerin: Menus are selected according to guest preferences. But we also make sure that our food offerings pair with the storytelling onboard. For instance, when you’re going up the rivers with Rocky Mountaineer, we’ll share the story of salmon and the cycle of life, so we make sure to serve a salmon dish that reflects the story.
Our train goes to Alberta, which is a famous province for meat. So our pork and beef comes from there. We have enough local ingredients, pretty much anything we want. All the vegetables, all the seafood, all the meat… we barely need to import anything else.
7travel: Do you have favourite piece of local produce that you get to serve?
Guerin: The indigenous people in Canada made use of a lot of squash, so we also make use of a lot of squash, starting in around July when it’s in season. We have a lot of spaghetti squash, butternut squash, green and yellow zucchini. We make soups - we make a butternut squash soup with a hint of truffle oil. Gorgeous.