Monthly Archives: January 2016

cruise lines

Culinary skills, cruise lines and your career

Cruise line jobs offer extensive potential for growth through skills and experience. It is certainly not easy cooking for thousands of people every day for months on end. While this may seem stressful, it is exactly this that helps you perfect your skills to a point where much of the basics can literally be done with your eyes closed.

At every level, there is something to learn. When you first join a cruise line kitchen on the bottom rung, you learn tips and tricks of getting things done much quicker. The all-important knife skills are honed and you will learn to be a force to reckon with in the kitchen. These may seem small at first, but they all add up as you climb the ladder or if you need to switch to a land-based job later.

Many cruise lines are taking on celebrity chefs from around the world to run their restaurants. At mid-level positions, it presents the chance of a lifetime to work with and learn from chefs who are renowned everywhere. Positions at similar land-based restaurants are very hard to come by.

When working on a cruise line, you learn to cook on the go. This means understanding stocks and storage, menus that are pre-set weeks earlier, and maintaining quality all the time. Because cruise ship kitchens only touch port once every few days, chefs must ensure that stocks last the while. If the kitchen runs out of an ingredient, there is no way of ‘popping to the store’ to replenish stocks.

This also helps you learn how to think on your feet – how to salvage a situation and still ensure that the customer is happy with the quality and has no idea what happens behind the scenes. These are all skills that will set you apart from your land-based colleagues and help you grow in your career.

Working with large quantities and maintaining the standard of quality expected by the company also adds weight to one’s resume. Working in cruise ship jobs brings you in touch with a variety of nationalities and cultures, and helps you learn techniques of each in a way that land-based restaurants can rarely, if ever, do.

The key to ensuring you make the most of your cruise ship kitchen job is to work as hard as you can and take the opportunity to learn from as many people as possible. The skills and techniques you learn on board will stand you in good stead for a lifetime.

team work in cruise ship kitchens

Team work in cruise ship kitchens

One of the perks of working cruise ship jobs is that you never work alone; there is always someone to help you out. The aim of a cruise ship kitchen is to provide the best food in hygienic conditions with stellar guest service. To ensure deadlines are met and thousands of hungry passengers are fed multiple times a day, the kitchen crew must work like a well-oiled machine, each playing his or her part to have everything moving like clockwork.

It all starts once the menus are set and supplies are ordered from vendors at the various ports the cruise liner will call at. The produce is inspected for quality and freshness and loaded onto the ship. During this stage, workers often load the produce into metal trays that can easily be cleaned and stored in refrigerators at various temperatures. This helps kitchen staff easily identify food for preparation, a key to time management during dining rush.

Dozens of workers in the kitchen engage in food preparation – cleaning, washing, chopping, dicing, and generally completing the basics before the chefs even begin cooking. This reduces the need for the chefs to spend time on these basic activities, and allows them to concentrate more on quality of taste and presentation. Records of all stores are kept up-to-date as they get used, so the inventory manager or storekeeper can order ahead of reaching the next port to stock up on supplies.

Sections differ in cruise line kitchens based on specialties. Most often the work space is divided into the ‘hot kitchen’ and the ‘cold kitchen’. In the former, vegetables, fish, meats, soups, pastas, hot side dishes and grilled food are some of the items cooked. All baking, pastry, buffets, ice carvings, salads and cold meats, etc, are taken care of in the cold kitchen. All the stocks and marinades for the hot galley and breads and ice creams for the cold galley are made in house for the restaurants, so a major slip up by one team can throw the entire ship’s culinary department off course.

Even wait staff are part of this big team. They bring in the orders and convey important messages such as food allergies or the doneness of steaks to the kitchen, and also ensure that guests in the massive dining areas are served exactly what they requested.

Cruise line kitchens are a study in time management, efficiency and team work. Working in the culinary department on board a cruise ship can sharpen your skills in these areas and boost your career.