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Venice Simplon Orient Express Dining


Venice Simplon Orient Express Dining

'Orient express' dining has forever been a grand affair since the first 'orient express' service was set up by the the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL) in 1883.

The British King Edward VII (1901 - 1910) asked an Orient Express Chef to work for him. The Chef declined.

Orient Express Dining April 1884 Luxury Train Club

The 'orient express' in the modern era has been revived by the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, now part of the luxurious LVMH brand.

Venice Simplon Orient Express Dining example dinner menu

The Chef

Venice Simplon Orient Express dining Christian Bodiguel by Gilles BassignacChristian Bodiguel, Executive Chef for 35 years, 1.3 million meals, 6.3 million kilometres (Gilles Bassignac)

We are deeply saddened to share the news that Christian Bodiguel, Executive Chef, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, passed away on 19 September 2019.

Gary Franklin, Vice President, Trains & Cruises laments his passing:

"The train’s legendary chef was celebrating 35 years aboard the train this season. Christian Bodiguel’s interest in cooking began early, inspired by his Cordon Bleu grandmother, and he was appointed Executive Chef of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in 1984. His signature dishes included Charolais Beef served with Truffle Caviar, his famous lobster brunch and Roast Salt Marsh Lamb served with sage flavoured polenta, always sourcing the best ingredients in the countries through which the legendary train travelled.

During his time on board he cooked for members of Royal families, dignitaries and celebrities and was a key part of thousands of guests’ celebrations on the train.

Christian was hugely admired by all who knew him and a true part of the train’s DNA. Christian was always so generous with his time and chatted with our guests as he walked through the carriages explaining his dishes and discussing the origins of his ingredients. His memories will live on through all who knew him and the legendary dishes that have been loved by so many.

We estimate that during his time on board VSOE, Christian will have prepared 1.3 million meals and travelled 6.3 million kilometres - an amazing achievement.

We are so saddened to lose such a special person and our thoughts are with his family and all his colleagues at this difficult time. ’

Christian Bodiguel was a French chef who never used garlic in his cooking on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. The executive chef of the Venice Simplon Orient-Express explained: “People are in close proximity for 31 hours; no one wants to reek of garlic. It is forbidden on board.”

The Executive Chef has one sous chef, two chefs de partie and two commis chefs. They provide gourmet menus for 125-200 covers each meal at two sittings in three restaurant cars.

Seasonal menus change weekly over three months. Dishes are light; passengers are served , for example, 6 meals between Venice and London.

Combine fine cuisine, stunning vistas from the picture windows and the experience of travelling in an Art Deco icon; the price of the journey is soon forgotten, overwhelmed by fond memories.

Other than pâtisseries and bread, everything is prepared on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in two galley kitchens between the 2 restaurant carriages. Christian Bodiguel designed the kitchens and specified the equipment - hotplates, ovens, steamers and giant bains-maries.

When the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express was not operating, Christian Bodiguel took time out to assist his British wife Gail in running a beautifully renovated guest house in Provence which , naturally, offers fine menus with ingredients from the local markets and local growers and producers.

Orient-Express, A Personal Journey

In May 1977, SNCF French national railways announced they were taking the Orient- Express, the world's most fabled train, out of service. The public outcry which followed caught the attention of Jim Sherwood.

The last remaining four carriages, which had featured in the film Murder on the Orient-Express, were auctioned by Sotheby's in Monte Carlo, and Sherwood bought two of them. He then set out on a trip across Europe to track down enough original 1920s carriages, with their exquisite Art Deco marquetry and Lalique glass, to make a full train.

In 1982, the lovingly-restored Venice Simplon-Orient Express set off from Victoria Station for Venice, almost exactly 100 years after it had first carried passengers on their exotic and mysterious journeys across the continent.

The re-launch of the Orient-Express attracted so much attention that Sherwood used the name for the luxury hotel company he went on the create. Orient-Express Hotels owned some of the great hotels of the world, all personally bought by Sherwood. He also oversaw the development of the Eastern & Oriental Express and the Hiram Bingham. The purchase and restoration of each train and grand hotel has its own extraordinary story behind it, which is wittily and compellingly told.

Belmond carries the legacy forward with its grand hotel, luxury river boat and iconic luxury trains collection, including the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Here is information (10 March 2014) about Belmond as the new brand identity for Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. (10 March 2014).

Orient Express A Personal Journey - 320 pages: ISBN 978-1-84954-187-9: Robson Press, 2012

James B. Sherwood, Ivan Fallon;


Contact us to learn more about Venice Simplon-Orient-Express dining or to book any luxury train tickets.

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