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Food and Drink

Meet the Chef Exploring an Ocean of Flavor

Seabourn’s Tony Egger travels the world in search of tantalizing flavor combinations.

ANTON “TONY” EGGER is never home. In fact, Seabourn’s master chef and culinary consultant doesn’t really have one. He’s a self-described “nomad, a globetrotter,” traveling the world eight months a year to find the most thrilling flavor combinations. He doesn’t even unpack between trips. “That way,” he says, “I never forget anything.”

When we spoke, Egger was in Bangkok on a culinary research trip. The city is one of his favorite destinations for the Shopping With the Chef activity he designed for the luxury cruise line, wherein Seabourn chefs guide guests through culinary destinations, such as the spice markets in Istanbul or the wines of Tuscany and Provence. Egger loves to bring guests to Bangkok’s markets because he thinks they have the freshest offerings. “People in Bangkok go to the market every day. Nobody puts food in the fridge, so I can go to any market and pick foods and vegetables at peak season.”

Recently, Egger has asked other Seabourn chefs to join him on his exploratory excursions so they can taste local dishes where they are made best. “You have to eat risotto in Italy,” he says. “If you’ve never eaten a really great risotto, then you won’t know how to make it.” He notes that curry has been particularly troublesome for European chefs because they often don’t understand where the dish’s coloring comes from. “It’s actually the basil and the baby eggplant,” he reveals. Not knowing this, chefs will sometimes add spinach. But once they taste the correct version, Eggers argues, “The brain stores textures and flavors.”

This commitment to hands-on education can also be seen in his Enjoy Your Catch program on select Alaska and British Columbia cruise routes, where guests can fish for salmon at Sitka or Ketchikan and halibut at Icy Strait Point. For many guests, it is the first time in their lives they’ve experienced sourcing their own food. But it’s nothing new to Egger.


He was raised in a tiny village in Austria where his family owned a boutique hotel and a farm. “It was the whole farm-to-table experience growing up — the real thing.” Before leaving for culinary school in Salzburg, he asked his grandmother to teach him to cook and she handed him a mop. “They’ll teach you to cook there, but they won’t teach you this,” she said. Chefs took note of his fastidiousness and soon he was working in Europe’s best kitchens. It was a chance to see the world, and he became hooked on the thrill of new places.

At Seabourn, he’s found the perfect marriage of travel and hospitality. His influences are entirely global, as particularly showcased in his “Earth and Ocean” menu, which often features cross-continental references within a single offering. “We have a salmon dish,” he explains. “It has a Peruvian pepper paste with a lovely rustic smoky flavor. And then we pair it with lentils, which is basically a trip to Germany. And then we add a port glaze, which is very French.” When I suggest that this is the ultimate fusion, he cringes. “We don't like to use the word fusion. For us, it’s travel.”

“I try to educate myself on what’s new, not just in terms of food,” he says. “I go to a lot of hotels. I look at new things. That’s how I gather my ideas. You need to constantly change yourself.”

Our Contributors

Laura Smith Writer

Laura Smith is the deputy editor of Departures. Previously, she was the executive editor of California magazine and has written for the New York Times, the Guardian, the Atlantic, and many more. Her nonfiction book, The Art of Vanishing, was published by Viking in 2018.


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