How Cruise Ship Chefs Maintain Food Hygiene

How Cruise Ship Chefs Maintain Food Hygiene
In today’s world, personal hygiene and public health are very closely related. Food handling is one of the ways in which microbes – and communicable diseases such as coronavirus – are transferred. Cruise ship chefs jobs have some of the strictest practices when it comes to food safety.

All major cruise line companies include the HACCP approach to food safety. This Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points system helps keep food safe from biological, chemical, physical and even radiological threats during the production process.

This is in addition to the personal hygiene standards all crew members are expected to follow, particularly those handling food. Cruise line chefs follow proper hygiene protocol including showering every day, sometimes adding an extra shower after work. They are also expected to be properly groomed every day. This includes ensuring their nails are short and clean, their uniforms are clean and their shoes are shined.

Proper handwashing procedures are strictly followed with special sinks dedicated to washing hands only located in all the galleys. They also use the three bucket or three sink system in the galley to clean dishes and utensils – one for washing, one for rinsing and the last for sanitising.

Within the context of the coronavirus crisis, cruise ship chefs are at a distinct advantage regarding measures to stop cross-contamination. One of the main personal hygiene rules followed on a cruise ship is not touching food contact surfaces such as knives, stockpots and cutting boards, with bare hands. Combined with frequent hand washing and not being permitted to touch their face during food preparation, cruise ship chefs present an extremely low risk particularly during this pandemic.

Different cruise ship companies also have their own sanitation inspections from organisations such as the USPH for the US, Ship Sanitation for the European Union, Health Canada, Anvisa for Brazil and Australian Ship Sanitation. Typically, ships that fail to score a minimum of 86 in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vessel Sanitation Program are considered unsatisfactory on the hygiene scale.

Sanitation inspections look for minute details – from stray coffee grounds under the machine to a single fruit fly at a breakfast station and even leftovers without labels. So cruise ship chefs need to be extremely careful when it comes to hygiene in food handling.

Every step from procuring produce and ingredients to storage, processing, handling and service follows strict hygiene guidelines on board. Cruise ship chefs learn to stick to these rules unwaveringly to help their vessel pass sanitation inspections. The procedures are ingrained from the time they start their courses, refreshed when they join their first contract and revisited during orientation programmes.

According to the World Health Organisation, there is no evidence to date that viruses that cause respiratory illnesses can be transmitted through food or food packaging. Coronaviruses also need an animal or human host to multiply – they cannot do so in food. So as long as all people involved in the food processing chain maintain simple but effective methods of hygiene, everyone can be protected.

These measures include using personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, frequent washing of hands and cleaning or disinfecting of work surfaces and touch points such as door handles, good respiratory hygiene such as covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, maintaining appropriate physical distancing at all stages of food processing, and being aware of symptoms so they can remove themselves from the workplace immediately. Staff involved in delivery of food must also follow hygiene and phyical distancing rules.

COVID-19 need not bring the food service industry to a grinding halt. With stringent processes in place – many already followed by cruise ship chefs, delicious meals can be served to consumers at their homes, bringing joy even during these testing times.

Learning Culinary Skills During The Lockdown

Learning Culinary Skills During The Lockdown
Being at home in between contracts or during a lockdown as in recent times can offer opportunities to hone skills or learn new ones. There are two ways to learn new culinary skills – one is by trial and error at home, the other is by signing up for an online course.

Online learning or virtual classrooms are gaining ground in the education sector, receiving an unlikely boost from the recent coronavirus pandemic. The crisis has affected the cruise industry and stalled crew changes, leaving many cruise ship chefs waiting on shore.

Lockdowns prevent easy access to ingredients so they encourage you to be creative with what you have. Take advantage and look for available substitutes. For example, in the absence of eggs, you can use aquafaba when cooking meringues or marshmallows. This liquid that comes from cooking chickpeas is flavourless when baked, cheap and looks exactly like fluffy egg white when whipped.

You can also attempt to make your own cream cheese, paneer or buttermilk at home with milk and lemon juice. You can do the same with a whole host of pantry staples, including bread, potato crisps, seasoning and dry rub mixes, granola, pastas, etc.

There are dozens of online courses that teach you either a specific skill – like making pasta – or an entire culinary course. Based on your experience and career aims, you can choose courses that suit you best.
Taking online courses can mean that you progress according to your skill level, rather than having to advance along with a class. So if you are able to pick up certain skills faster, you can master them and move on to new ones, thereby adding to your resume. On the other hand, if there is a skill that’s particularly difficult for you, you can watch the video or take that particular class as many times as you need to until you get where you need to be.

Online courses also allow you to attend class at a time you are comfortable with. So if you find your concentration levels are better very early in the morning or very late at night, you can adjust your schedule accordingly.

Some of the popular online culinary courses include those by Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, New England Culinary Institute, Penn Foster Career School and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and Rouxbe.

A few online institutes boast a pretty comprehensive programme schedule. Auguste Escoffier, for example, includes research, step-by-step videos, cooking, live sessions with the teacher and graded assignments too. Students are expected to submit a summary, detailed images, and a flavour journal that helps the teacher grade the student despite not being there to taste the food. Training includes culinary techniques, pastry arts, business management, being an executive chef and running a successful food operation.

With Rouxbe, the options offer specific courses to learn plant-based cooking, vegan desserts, seafood literacy and others, aimed at professionals, culinary students and home cooks too.

Online culinary courses vary in length, most requiring you to spend just a few hours a day. With interactive sessions, you are able to get one-on-one feedback from trainers too. This enables you to enjoy your time off work while also upgrading your skills in a short period of time.

Culinary Experiences On Luxury Cruises

Food is the biggest part of cruise life. Dining, snacking, cooking demos, masterclasses and culinary experiences – both onboard and shore-based – involve cruise ship chefs whipping up world-class meals with high quality ingredients.

Across cruise lines, there are in-house styles and standards to follow. These are drawn up by the executive chefs on each vessel, following a brief from the company about the image they want to portray to the world. Let’s look at a few cruise ship companies and their culinary offerings.


VIKING CRUISES

There are six standard food and beverage outlets on Viking Cruises, apart from the specialty restaurants that feature on various vessels. The cruise company plays with elegant fine dining at The Restaurant, the best of Italian to satiate popular food tastes with Manfredi’s, interactive dining experiences with World Café, Norwegian specialties at Mamsen’s to reflect its heritage, various alcohols and spirits including the Scandinavian aquavit which gives the bars their name, and 24-hour bakeries. 

Some of their excursions also offer interesting culinary experiences such as empanada lessons, alfajores and mate in Argentina; and personally customised okonomiyaki in Japan.


OCEANIA CRUISES

Oceania Cruises has been winning awards for its cuisine quite often for Best Dining, Best Cuisine, Best for Food and Best Main Dining Room Cuisine by top cruise magazines and forums. This could partly be thanks to its executive culinary director Jacques Pépin who keeps the innovation game top-notch. On Oceania’s new cruise ships – Marina and Riviera, there is no extra charge for specialty restaurants.

Guests can indulge in exquisite dishes such as Parmesan Cheese Timbale with Black Truffle Sauce at its Italian restaurant Toscana, 28-day dry-aged USDA prime and Whole Maine Lobster Gratinée at Polo Grill steakhouse, contemporary twists on Asian classics at Red Ginger, vegan smoothies and energy bowls at Waves Grill, and the splendid English afternoon tea traditions at Horizons. Pépin takes centre stage at Jacques which celebrates French classics with the masterchef’s interpretations.


MARELLA CRUISES

Cruise ship chefs on Marella can look forward to quite a bit of classic cruise cooking. The company’s à la carte menu features traditional French onion soup, Lobster thermidor, beef carpaccio and cherry jubilee. All ships have at least three restaurants varying from a formal dining atmosphere to casual snacking. Its Snack Shack is a popular eatery with quick foods such as salads, wraps and fresh fruit pots available in a fridge. 

Surf & Turf Steakhouse and Kora La are two restaurants on Marella ships that are popular and recommended. The steakhouse boasts prime Angus steak, a variety of seafood options including lobster tail and salmon, and delectable desserts such as trio of lemon and New York cheesecake. Kora La offers a fairly small menu with Pan-Asian flavours including trout and mango salad, tempura chicken and curry dishes. Its Korean pancakes and kue ruwok made of custard and meringue layers are noted by cruise critics.


REGENT SEVEN SEAS

The Regent Seven Seas Cruises looks at dining as an experience. It’s a more elegant affair, even if it means something as downright messy as Alaskan King crab legs. Compass Rose is its largest specialty restaurant where cruise ship chefs allow diners to design their own entrées from preferred sides, sauces, pastas and main features of beef, poultry and fish. The menus also change daily to offer excellent variety to guests. 

La Veranda is the Regent Seven Seas’ breakfast and lunch buffet spread that transforms smoothly into Sette Mari in the evenings. During the day, it features a global menu with tidbits from around the world, including pain au chocolat and fruit Danish at breakfast and murgh makhanwala at lunch. In the evening, there’s a focus on Italian cuisine that features everything from veal meatballs with fried mozzarella to the Sicilian special pasta di mandorle or almond paste cookie. 

Smoking As A Cooking Method

Smoking As A Cooking Method
For most countries outside the tropics, summer holidays mean picnics and barbeques. Smoking food has been a method of cooking since man first discovered fire. Along with roasting, smoking is the oldest cooking method.

The smoke created by burning material – most often wood – offers a distinct flavouring to food, as well as browning and preserving it too. Lay people are most exposed to the barbeque style of smoking, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this method of cooking.

The most common items to smoke are meats and poultry, but fish or game can also be smoked. In many places, seafood, vegetables and cheese are also smoked. It is thought to be a healthier method of cooking as no oil or fat is required during the process and when done right, the food remains succulent.

In a hot smoking method, temperatures are between 52-80 degrees Centigrade (126-176F). The food is raw before being smoked and cooked during the process. Often, meats are air-dried by hanging them from the ceiling or placing them on racks in a refrigerator or cool room so they develop a ‘skin’ that helps the smoky flavour to cling to it. Smoking lasts for anywhere between an hour to a whole day, and sometimes meats, fish and poultry are soaked in brine to help retain moisture during smoking.

Hot smoking is not the best method for long-term food preservation and it is usually served right away or stored in a fridge or freezer for a few days.

In cold smoking, food remains raw throughout the process. And because temperatures in the smokehouse are usually between 20-30 degrees Celsuis (68-86F), they offer the ideal conditions for bacterial growth. So cold smoking can be dangerous if not done right. To reduce risk, most meats are cured before cold smoking, which is typically done to boost the flavour of cheese or nuts as well as beef, salmon, pork chops, chicken, steaks and other similar cuts.

An additional method is smoke-roasting which combines roasting and smoking. This is basically barbecuing where temperatures are jacked up above 121 degrees Centigrade (250F). This is the easiest type of smoking to replicate at home without the risks of not attaining the right temperature to kill bacteria.

Cruise ship chefs find it difficult to include smoking as a cooking method on board due to the hazards of having an open fire. In such cases, liquid smoke is a go-to addition, made by condensing smoke from wood. It is water soluble and lends a similar flavour to meats and vegetables as smoking over flame.

Still, this trend is now changing. American celebrity chef Guy Fieri turned cruise ship barbecuing on its head when he launched Smokehouse on Carnival Vista which is reportedly the first restaurant at sea to have a full-on smoker.
More cruise ships are now jumping on the bandwagon. Carnival Magic opened Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse, while Princess Cruises brought Planks BBQ on board Caribbean Princess and Norwegian Bliss has Q with brisket, ribs, chicken and sausages smoked over hickory, oak and pecan wood.

And it’s not just meat, seafood and vegetables that can be smoked. Chefs can get innovative with cheeses such as gouda, palmero, gruyère and provolone; garlic, chipotle, peaches, oysters, olives, corn, and nuts such as almonds, pecans and walnuts.

How Cruise Ship Chefs Can Use Meat Substitutes

How Cruise Ship Chefs Can Use Meat Substitutes
Vegetarianism and veganism is a growing trend, with plant-based diets seeing an increase across the world. Food-related cruise ship jobs need to follow these trends to ensure they can cater to changing demands. The US and China are two of the biggest cruise economies in the world. According to the Food Revolution Network, the last three years have shown a 600 per cent increase in people identifying as vegan in the US, while the Chinese government has released dietary guidelines to encourage people to reduce meat consumption by 50 per cent. But this doesn’t mean they don’t want their favourite food. Cruise ship chefs can learn how to substitute meat with vegetarian or vegan options that keep the dish just as delicious.

MINCE
Minced beef is a staple in well-loved dishes such as lasagna, tacos, casseroles, meat pies, spaghetti bolognese and chili. For vegetarian and vegan diners, cruise ship chefs have a number of options.
Firm tofu is often pressed under a heavy weight to squeeze out water and then crumbled to form mince, which cooks much faster than ground beef. Textured soy protein, made from soy flour, has the texture and appearance of ground beef. It is quite flavourless so absorbs seasoning very well.
Lentils have also worked as minced meat, and while easily available are probably not the first choice for most chefs.

STEAK
Steaks are a big favourite around the world. Cruise ship chefs will know the regularity with which they are relished on board. To give vegetarians an option, look no further than the humble cauliflower. A thick slice of a whole cauliflower head can easily be stuck into the oven and roasted with oil and herbs, or sautéed in a pan with mushrooms in white wine sauce.
Seitan – which is basically wheat gluten that’s had all its starch removed – is an excellent substitute for steak and can be flavoured with any popular seasoning including barbeque sauce. The texture is fairly close to meat which makes it all the more desirable as a substitute.

PATTIES
Vegetable burgers don’t really sound that appetising, but when the substitutes offer the flavour and texture of meat, it’s hard to argue. One of these is tempeh, a traditional Indonesian product made of fermented soybeans, most often sold in a cake form. It can easily be seasoned and grilled to make delicious burger patties.
Other options for burgers are black beans which are typically used from a can. But they are also available dried, and then need to be steamed before being drained well, ground to a paste with other ingredients and flavourings and then pressed into a patty.

RIBS & HOT DOGS
Seitan is perfect for ribs since they offer that ‘meaty’ pull and can also be used as the filling in hot dogs, the casing of which is made of cellulose or other plant-based ingredients instead of the usual intestine.
One of the most popular companies selling meat-like vegetarian products is Quorn, which was first marketed back in 1985. It is now one of the largest companies selling meat-replacement food in the UK, including hot dogs.

SANDWICH FILLING
Sandwiches are one of the top quick-service meals ordered on board. Cruise ship chefs can offer delicious versions of favourites such as croque monsieur, reubens, po’boys and more with easy substitutes.
Shiitake mushrooms are a popular substitute for croque monsieurs, sautéed generously to develop that sweet-salty taste associated with the original ham. Jackfruit is an unlikely ingredient here, but quite useful. In such cases, it is used raw and has a flesh-like texture that is perfect in tacos and for a filling similar to pulled pork.
The flaky texture of tempeh is popular as a substitute for the seafood filling in po’boys as well as to make ‘crab’ cakes and ‘fish’ fillets.

HOT WINGS
Seitan is a great substitute for this incredibly well-loved snack, but the ubiquitous cauliflower is on the list as well. The stem of the florets even mimics the wing end, with a sticky hot sauce just the right accompaniment for its spicy and crispy coating.

Convenience ‌Food ‌On ‌Cruise ‌Ships

Convenience ‌Food ‌On ‌Cruise ‌Ships
Cruise ship jobs take you far from the comforts you’re used to. With the demands of the job, it’s not uncommon that sometimes you find yourself either too tired or too lazy to make the breakfast, lunch or dinner schedule. At this time, convenience food is your saviour.

For health reasons, it is not recommended that one eats convenience food often. This is because they are usually high in salt or sugar content, preservatives, saturated fats and food additives. That said, they are the easiest snack or instant food available on the run.

Many cruise ships have restrictions on convenience foods available to passengers, possibly to encourage them to spend on eating food freshly prepared in the various restaurants on board. Some allow them to bring restricted pre-packaged items including a few packets of cookies and salty snacks such as beef jerky.

On the other hand, for people with cruise ship jobs, management tries to make life easier by offering items they enjoy. The crew general store on board will typically have a selected variety of crisps, instant noodles and quick ready-to-eat food.

Packaged cheese and processed meat is considered convenience food – it’s easy to pick up a wedge of La Vache Qui Rit and pop it into your mouth or spread it on a slice of bread on the go. Soft drinks and beverages such as Pepsi, Coca Cola and their associated brands are also usually available.

Passengers were earlier allowed to bring a certain amount of bottled water and non-alcoholic beverages on board, but some cruise lines such as Carnival now require these to be bought on board in cans. Any sodas or bottled water brought on board by passengers are confiscated and returned to guests at the end of the cruise.

Crisps from Lays, Pringles and Doritos nachos are very popular worldwide, and should be available to crew although there may not be the variety of flavours you expect. They may be priced slightly higher than usual so check with on-board regulations if you can bring a few packets back from shore visits.

Oreos are another popular convenience food, which is usually made available to crew at the general store. There may be instances of instant ramen, soups, and ready-mix pastas like macaroni and cheese, but you must remember that most cruise ships do not allow crew to take such consumables back to their rooms. They must be eaten in the mess or crew dining area where any crumbs and spillage can easily be cleaned and sanitised.

Other convenience food that is easily available is commercial chocolates such as Twix, Snickers, Kit Kat, Haribo gummies and the like. It might be wiser to opt for cereal bars and packaged mixed dry fruit as snacks when you’re hungry to keep your health in check.

Passengers can find easy substitutes for their favourite convenience food on board. Instead of Doritos, they can order a plate of cheesy nachos. Any Asian restaurant on board will be happy to make a customised bowl of ramen to replace their craving for instant noodles. Bakeries on board are filled with tantalising options including freshly made pretzels, chocolate chip biscuits, sandwich cookies and more that will satisfy a yearning for items like Oreos and Chips Ahoy.

As part of cruise ship jobs, you may be asked by passengers about the availability of convenience food. If the vessel you work on offers a limited range or none at all, point them in the direction of the nearest restaurant that makes worthy substitutes from fresh ingredients.

Food, Culture & Visual Representation

Food, Culture & Visual Representation

Food can be a study in culture. Every dish, method of preparation, and even flavour preference can be indicative of the region it comes from or the people who make it. Cruise ship chefs can use this knowledge to tap into the subconscious associations guests have with their own cultures – comfort flavours of sorts.

The mixing of cultures is far more frequent now than it has ever been before. Migration is very common and the fusion of foods is often a trend. But that certainly does not take away the roots of the culture they were born from.

For example, many Italians migrated to the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, bringing with them the Neapolitan and Sicilian food cultures, such as risotto, white sauce and polenta from the north, and pasta, tomato sauce and olive oil from the south. Today, spaghetti and meatballs, and pasta alla carbonara are associated with Italian food but these were in fact created from ingredients more readily available in the US.

Still, visually, just an image of plump red tomatoes, vibrant green basil and stark white cheese will immediately stimulate an association with Italian food rather than any other cuisine. This could possibly have come about because of the deep connections between visual stimuli and the perception of taste, smell and flavour.

One culture where the appearance of dishes is given a lot of importance is Japan. Influences from Chinese and Korean cultures over more than 2000 years helped develop the Japanese cuisine we are familiar with today. In addition, Buddhist and Shinto religious practices modified it too, by looking down on meat consumption. With fish as the most easily available substitute, fermentation was widely used for preservation before the focus was shifted to fresh fish that we now enjoy in sushi and sashimi.

With the arrival of the Portuguese and Dutch came the notion of frying food as a way of cooking and the Japanese developed methods like tempura. But what truly sets Japanese cuisine apart from its neighbours is its focus on appearance since they believe that food is to be looked at, as well as eaten.

A lot of ritual goes into cooking, plating and service. For example, they never arrange four elements on a plate since the homonym for four in Japanese is death. We are also well aware of their famous tea ceremony, a cultural activity with precise ways of preparing and presenting matcha tea.

Around the world, certain food items and dishes have become cultural icons. Foie gras, a specialty product made of duck or goose liver, is associated with France. So is the croissant, even though this flaky, buttery pastry actually originated in Austria in the early 1800s which later inspired the French.

In other places in Europe, we are familiar with fish and chips, and a full English breakfast in England; Gouda cheese in the Netherlands; haggis in Scotland; and paella and sangria in Spain. In a similar way, Australia is popular for vegemite on toast, Mexico for tacos, Greece for gyros, South Africa for peri-peri and bunny chow, and the Middle East for mezze.

Indian food culture is extremely varied, but its cultural icon is curry, even though this is a blanket term for what is in fact a very diverse range of gravies with multiple methods of preparation, flavours and origins.

Aromas and visual cues can jog people’s memories of their favourite food from their childhoods, without them even tasting it. Cruise ship chefs can use this knowledge to stimulate interest in passengers, particularly with daily specials or when creating exclusive meals for occasions or even for fussy children.

Different Knives & Their Uses

Different Knives & Their Uses
One of the most important tools in any kitchen, including a cruise ship galley, is a knife. But to be adept at your cruise ship job, it’s important to know how to distinguish between different types of knives and how to use them. Here are a few common ones.

chef_knife
This is the most common kitchen knife. Many chefs prefer having their own knives – they become comfortable with the weight, handling and versatility. These knives are most often between 8-10 inches long.

paring_knife
This is basically a smaller version of a chef’s knife, but not as hardy. A paring knife is used mostly for peeling fruit and vegetables and cutting with precision. Chefs use caution with a paring knife as too much force can damage it.

bread_knife
These special knives are between 6-10 inches long with serrations and an offset handle to ensure your knuckles avoid contact with the board when slicing bread. The serrated blade helps slice through loaves cleanly in both directions.

Cleaver
This is an important knife, particularly in the butchery section of a cruise ship galley. These are heavy and large to help cut through big chunks of meat, cartilage and hard bone. Some chefs also use cleavers to crush food such as garlic, but it’s important to clean knives thoroughly before using them with different food items.

Cheese
Cheese is a popular food item around the world, and specialised knives are available to slice through different varieties. Soft cheeses require knives with holes so that their surface contact reduces and they don’t stick to the metal as much. Harder cheeses require sharper knives.

mincing
If you’ve watched cooking show host Nigella Lawson, you’ll notice she often brings out a semi-circular knife that helps her quickly chop ingredients quite finely. Held with both hands, chefs rock it back and forth to turn vegetables and herbs into small pieces with little work.

sushi
Most sushi and sashimi is made using yanagi ba, although specialised sushi chefs will use a number of different types when working with whole fish, cutting razor-thin slices of fugu blowfish with intricate presentation. The yanagi ba is long, thin and slightly concave along the back, with a sharp tip and single-sided edge which makes it perfect for slicing fish in a solid motion without it sticking to the knife. An usuba is used to cut and peel vegetables and garnishes. Its peculiarity is that it has a single bevel so left-handed chefs must get a left-handed version. A takobiki features a blunt tip and a long blade for thin, long slices of ingredients like sashimi and octopus. Other, more specialised, sushi knives are also available.

steak
These knives are popular among diners too as they help slice through meat dishes at the table. Most often, they have serrated blades and wooden handles, and are the only sharp knife found at a dining table. At meal times, they are sometimes used by diners to cut up other cooked foods and also to spread butter.

carving
With the festive season upon us, it’s important for soon-to-be cruise ship chefs to know the value of carving knives. These feature long blades narrower and thinner than a chef’s knife to reduce drag and ensure uniform slices of meat, particularly from whole roasted poultry, roasts and ham.

Decoding Michelin Stars

Decoding Michelin Stars
The Michelin Guides are considered the Academy Awards of the culinary world. Each year, Michelin publishes its Red Guide and Green Guides, that list the best eating establishments around the world. Restaurants receive between one and three Michelin stars based on anonymous reviews from ‘inspectors’, who can visit multiple times a year to ensure an accurate rating. The stars are difficult to obtain, and therefore an absolute honour for restaurant owners and chefs. They offer great prestige, exposure and an increase in business, and the opposite when they lose stars.

The history of the Michelin Guide and its stars is interesting. The most coveted restaurant reviews in the world were introduced by the eponymous Paris-based tyre company as a way to drive business. In the 1900s, when there were fewer than 3000 cars in France, Michelin published a travel guide to Europe to encourage people to drive to local attractions, which included restaurants and places of interest, as well as information for motorists such as mechanics listings, petrol stations, tyre repair and replacement instructions, and the like.

The restaurant review section became increasingly popular and a team was recruited to anonymously visit restaurants. In 1926, it started awarding a single star, which increased to the now well-recognised hierarchy of three stars.

The original 1936 rating explanations suggested that a single star indicates ‘a very good restaurant in its category’. Two stars indicate ‘excellent cooking, worth a detour’, while three stars meant the restaurant served ‘exceptional cuisine’ and was ‘worth a special journey’.

The ratings and reviews focus solely on the food, and in no way indicate anything other than that, including quality of service, interiors, table setting, etc. Any rating is considered praise, but with a one-star rating, Michelin inspectors typically mean that the restaurant offers quality menu and consistently good food, but largely lacks something singular that will command visits time and again.

With two-star ratings, restaurants can be rest assured that inspectors are suggesting they are worth a detour from a road trip to visit, offering something exceptional and unique. With three stars, the guide indicates that the restaurant is the destination itself and is worth a trip solely to visit, with dishes that are distinct and executed perfectly.

Michelin guides currently cover only specific areas – 25 countries, with the first Asia guide recognising Japanese cuisine only in 2007. India is not covered by the guides, but there are Indian chefs who have earned Michelin stars at their restaurants in other countries. These include Vineet Bhatia for his restaurant Zaika in London (2001), Alfred Prasad for Tamarind of Mayfair in London (2002), Atul Kocchar for Tamarind (2001) and Benares (2007) both in London, Karunesh Khanna for Amaya in London (2006), Sriram Aylur for Quilon in London (2008), Vikas Khanna for Junoon in New York for three consecutive years (2012) and Manjunath Mural for The Song of India in Singapore (2016). Gaggan Anand was the first Indian to win two Michelin stars with his eponymous restaurant in Thailand in 2018, the year Garima Arora became the first Indian woman to receive a Michelin star for Gaa in Thailand.

Of these, Atul Kocchar has teamed up with P & O Cruises for his restaurant Sindhu where he serves scrumptious Indian food on board, and also went to Antarctica in 2017 on a private charter cruise organised by luxury travel company The Q Experiences.

It’s important to note that Michelin stars are not only awarded to swanky, posh restaurants. Sushi Saito is a three-starred restaurant in Tokyo considered the holy grail of sushi but features a small wooden counter in a multi-storey car park.