Introducing Victor Mancilla-Gonzalez, a Celebrity Cruises Sous Chef and our latest Celebrity of the Moment! Read on to learn about him and his role on board.
What inspired you to become a chef?
I was fortunate enough to be born in Panama, a multicultural country that is full of traditions and flavors. I was also blessed with a food-loving family and the strong influence of a chef – my mother. As a teenager, my parents sent me to high school in another country, where I had my first culinary experience. After returning and watching my mother create, invent, plate, and make people happy with each meal, my passion for cooking was confirmed. Unfortunately though, at that time, we didn’t have a culinary school in my country and I had to pursue something else. However, after working as an architect with a small firm and after culinary schools opened in my country, I decided to quit my job, much to my family’s dismay, go back to school and start a new journey full of pressure, tension, critics, but also imagination, balance, creation and prestige. Celebrity helps me keep this inspiration alive because every new recipe, guest, crewmember, and beyond, tells me that I found my passion.
What is your favorite Celebrity Cruises Dish to make?
That’s a very difficult question! I truly enjoy every single dish that we make on board and I am proud of our menu because of the variety and the contrast of flavors. But, in my top 10, there are two specials that I love to cook – the risotto and the soufflé. Some of my colleagues said that my risotto is like a dream, but my cooks call me, ‘King of the Soufflé.’ The soufflé is a dish that requires special attention, proper measuring, and patience. It is a combination of technique and flavors, but you can create a great variety of soufflés, like goat cheese soufflé from Ocean Liners, the blue cheese soufflé from Blu, and the chocolate and the Grand Marnier soufflé as desserts.
How do you relax during your time off on board?
I spend a lot of time writing and working on my first book about different cooking perspectives. Being on board is an international experience. We interact with over 70 nationalities. During my time off, there are three things that I love to do. First, I enjoy learning about every culinary culture (recipes, preparation, taste, history of the ingredients and the dishes). Secondly, I like to visit museums around the world, which helps me to expand my knowledge and also to understand different cultures. Third, I enjoy taking culinary tours with my team, because it is an opportunity to have fun, come together as a group, and focus. After every contract, team members have a different point of view about their job and further knowledge about the food around the world.