Molly Brandt has been around water right from the start. In Stillwater, MN, where she grew up near the banks of the placid St. Croix River, kayakers can be seen paddling their way past the town. Today, you’ll find Molly surrounded by water—the kind with waves, whitecaps, and an uninterrupted horizon. And she’s not exactly paddling around in a tiny kayak, enjoying the scenery. Molly is aboard Royal Caribbean International’s newest and largest ship, Allure of the Seas, as chef de cuisine in their restaurant, 150 Central Park.
How did she end up on the high seas? She entered Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge—a contest to win a one-year contract to take the helm of the ship’s new fine-dining restaurant. Open exclusively to graduates of the CIA, the competition, judged by CIA chef-instructors and Royal Caribbean International senior staff, was intense and ultimately rewarding for Molly when she was named the winner.
But Molly was not always going to be a chef; indeed she didn’t start cooking until she was 21. After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Molly sought help in finding the best career match for her interests and talents. A career profile test revealed that she might make a good chef. And after reading the book, The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman, Molly decided that the CIA was where she was meant to go. A stellar student, Molly wished to extend her learning opportunities and stayed on another year as a Teaching Assistant in the Escoffier Restaurant. Her first job after graduation was in China, promoting dinners for Italian company DreamItaly that was promoting its luxury travel tours in Beijing and Shanghai. Back across the ocean again, Molly ended up in New York City working at Café Boulud—her toughest job to date. By now, feeling confident in her skills, she and her mother started Flavors of Italia—providing villa vacation packages that included Molly as the chef. Next came her successful catering/personal chef business called Cook In The Kitchen, which she put on hiatus to work for Royal Caribbean.
After winning the Royal Caribbean International competition, Molly traveled to Florida to join the crew of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. By the time she had been with the company 10 days, she had developed a completely new menu for the Oasis’ 150 Central Park, which she then implemented before she transferred over to her job on the brand spanking new Allure of the Seas. Once there, she fashioned two new menus to ensure that travelers remain tantalized and surprised during the week-long cruises. Today, Molly is the face of 150 Central Park, moving from the kitchen to the stylish dining room to interact with guests and discuss the elegant fare she has created. And for the next year, she will be on every voyage overseeing and ensuring that her standards of culinary excellence are met. The crew and guests aboard ship have come to really appreciate Molly’s spirit of innovation and extraordinary culinary talent. The Allure’s Captain Hernan Zini may have said it best when he explained, “We are proud and privileged to have Molly as the chef in charge of this restaurant. She is an incredible, passionate woman who has done a fantastic job and finally she has come fully alive serving all of our guests here on Allure of the Seas.”
With all that talent and drive, who knows what’s next for Molly. What we do know is that she will bring all of her energy and passion to bear on any project she undertakes.