On May 26, 1936, some 250,000 were on hand to wish ‘God Speed’ to the Queen Mary as she left Southampton for the first time. As evening approached, passengers dressed for dinner – perhaps sharing cocktails or sending telegrams to loved ones – or – like Mrs. C.N. Pillman, stopping in at the Purser’s office to pick-up her winnings for the ship’s first distance-traveled pool. Excitement must have been in the air as bellboys and stewards rang dinner gongs and well-groomed passengers – traveling in every class – made their way to the ship’s restaurant salons. But what did they eat? We now know.

This year, Queen Mary guests attending the May 26 Maiden Voyage Anniversary Dinner will be served a modern version of the menu presented to First Class passengers on their first evening at sea.

“While the Queen Mary has previously re-created historic menus to mark important events, the creation of this particular menu was difficult as no records of the meal are present in our archives. The information was uncovered in one of many Queen Mary books recounting the ship’s illustrious history and its maiden voyage – eighty years ago,” said Queen Mary Chef, Todd Henderson.


Cunard Lines Chef Martin Riccault welcomed his First Class guests with an elaborate table – now re-created by the ship’s present day Chef, Todd Henderson, which is not identical, but will reflect the historic evening through gastronomy research of the period.

Chef Riccault’s original menu included:

  • Honeydew Melon Glacé
  • Croutes-au-pot au Perles (Potato soup in pastry)
  • Tranche de Turbotin Poche Normande (Turbot)
  • Poulard de Braisée Belle Mère (Flattened Chicken)
  • Haricots verts at beurre (Haricot Beans)
  • Pommes Garfield (French Fries)
  • Salad francaise
  • Fraises Chantilly (Strawberries with Cream)
  • Petite-fours
  • Dessert
  • Café

Chef Henderson’s Menu will feature:

  • Chanrentais Melon Gelee (Speck, Sea Salt, Basil Herb Crystals)
  • Croute-au-Pot au Pomme Perles (Puff Pastry, Fried Ramp & Potato Soup, Bacon Leek Oil)
  • Cotes Courtes Braisée Belle Mère (Wagyu Short Rib, Fava Bean Purée, Glacé di Viande)
  • Salad Francaise (Petit Greens, French Vinaigrette)
  • Chocolate Creme Brûlée with Strawberries and Chantilly Cream
  • Café

The Maiden Voyage Anniversary Dinner will be held in the Grand Salon, formerly the First Class Dining Room. Guests will be treated to after dinner remarks by Randolph Churchill, great-grandson of the ship’s most illustrious passenger. Lord Alan Watson (MP), Baron of Richmond and noted Churchill scholar and author will discuss Churchill’s life-long connection to the Queen Mary; a relationship that began long before the maiden voyage and continued through Churchill’s retirement.

“It is my hope that those attending the Anniversary dinner will imagine themselves as part of a living history that now enters its ninth decade. Perhaps they will toast Mr. Churchill or raise a glass to the memory of the 800,000 Allied troops Queen Mary safely ferried during WWII. Or, maybe they will simply enjoy a wonderful meal served aboard the greatest ocean liner of all time,” Henderson concluded.

Images provided by The Queen Mary press office