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The Art Of Cooking

The Art Of CookingFor most of human history, cooking has been viewed as a necessary skill, without which humans are resigned to be foragers and hunters. Over the years, with the opulence of empires and their show of wealth, cooking transcended that realm into something of extravagance and show.

From basic food forms like pies and roasts, food became more dainty and sophisticated to include newer creations such as bruschetta and salads. More recently, cooking and its final products have focused on technique, appearance and quality, causing many to refer to this skill as culinary art.

Art is loosely defined as visual, auditory and performing artifacts that express the author’s imaginative, conceptual idea, or technical skill intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power. Much of this can be applied to the culinary arts.

People in the world of culinary arts, including cruise ship chefs, are expected to have in-depth knowledge of food science, nutrition and diet. Students are taught this art just as one would painting or sculpture – including its history, specific techniques and creative expression.

By nature, an artist uses a blank canvas to stimulate the senses. Cooking a dish and its presentation can cause similar effects. Heston Blumenthal, for example, created a stunning dessert out of something quite classic. He turned the favourite Italian dessert tiramisu into a potted plant.

The dessert is served in a clean pot and appears to be a sapling planted in a soil. To the eye, soil is hardly appetising, initiating a tasteless, bitter, perhaps even unsavoury effect. In this way, it stimulates the eyes and the imagination. Once the diner comes closer, the aroma of the chocolate soil and the mint or basil plant stimulates the olfactory senses.

This changes the diner’s approach to the dish, inviting him or her to try it. Finally, the taste buds are stimulated and the diner feels comfort from tasting something familiar, joy at having overcome the initial reaction and from the pleasant surprise.

Art can be constituted as a reaction or a relationship between the viewer and the object or experience. A similar example in the modern art space is of Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, whose early installations in the 1990s sought to bring people together by cooking meals such as pad thai and Thai green curry for visitors.

This may not be culinary art but shows that art is simply a sensory effect on its audience. They may not perceive it as beautiful or – in the case of culinary art – delicious, but that is their perception of the creator’s vision.

Culinary artists undergo years of rigorous training in skills, food safety, the understanding of chemistry and thermodynamics, and more, to give them a firm foundation of how ingredients react with each other and the elements around them.

The creativity rests on their own imagination to design dishes that evoke positive sensory responses from diners so that people keep coming back for more.

For cruise ship chefs, their jobs on board may not give them the full freedom to practice their creativity, particularly lower down in the hierarchy, but in celebrity kitchens or once they climb the ladder, the world is their oyster.

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Breaking Down Haute Cuisine & Fusion Cuisine

Breaking Down Haute Cuisine & Fusion CuisineFood is one of the most important elements of a cruise. Today’s cruise ship chefs jobs place exacting demands for technical know how and knowledge of varying cuisines to suit almost every taste preference. Two trendy cuisine styles that are catching on in cruising today are haute cuisine and fusion cuisine.

HAUTE CUISINE

The French have always been known for their cuisine, but this fame really began in the 17th century. Before this time, France was simply learning more about food ingredients brought in from its conquests and the newly discovered Americas.

A good meal at this time was considered to be one with huge portions, with one record showing about 66 turkeys at a single dinner. Haute cuisine can be considered to have been invented with the appointment of Marie-Antoine Carême – later called the father of French cuisine – as the head chef of English King George IV. Carême was famous for his excessively rich dishes, elaborate decorative edible centrepieces, and also his books on cooking. He took his ideas from La Varenne, who was the first to make roux, and individual or single portion pastries and pies.

He set the stage for the reign of French chefs, followed by Georges Auguste Escoffier in the 19th century, who modernised haute cuisine into what it is today. Instead of the elaborate feasts of old, he worked with Carême’s decadent sauces and other culinary concepts to focus on smaller portions using high quality ingredients and precision.

Haute cuisine changed the way food was served – from bringing in all dishes at once, to service in courses. The legendary French meal consists of up to 17 courses, from hors d’oeuvres to cold cuts to cheese boards.

Haute cuisine continues to follow these practices, with one of its main contributions to the art of cooking being efficiency. Escoffier created the system of dedicated stations for various elements of a dish – soups, sauces, starches and vegetables, grills and fried items, and pastry dishes. This system is still in use today.

FUSION CUISINE

Compared to haute cuisine, fusion food is thought of as a relatively new concept. As a modern concept, it became fashionable in the 1970s but as a basic concept, it has been around for millenia. Fusion cuisine is basically marrying different styles and techniques, something that has been done with every migration since the beginning of time.

One example of this is spaghetti, which is thought to have been inspired by the exposure of Italians to Chinese noodles. In India, this is apparent with the inclusion of tomatoes and chilli into the cuisine after these ingredients were introduced by the Europeans.

Where haute cuisine is classic and follows certain techniques and recipes, fusion cuisine is more forgiving and fluid. Chefs need not follow the rules and service need not be in courses.

One of the first chefs associated with fusion cuisine is Richard Wing who combined French and Chinese cooking, and later Wolfgang Puck who cemented the idea of Eurasian cuisine.

Fusion cuisine requires a solid knowledge of a variety of techniques and ingredients, and a particular affinity for good flavour combinations. It means knowing whether elements like garlic and passionfruit could work well together.

Fusion cuisine has received some heat from chefs who dismiss it as a confusion of styles and elements. However, despite this, fusion cuisine remains popular and the simpler recipes possibly cheaper and easier to recreate at home compared to haute cuisine.

As competition gets stiffer, food companies are bringing more innovative fusion cuisine ideas to the mix. One new style that has caught on recently is the food mash-up, combining two food types into one. This has spawned creative dishes such as the Cronut – pastry chef Dominique Ansel’s croissant-donut recipe which looks like a donut but is made with croissant-style dough and is filled with cream.

Others include the ramen burger with a ‘bun’ of fried ramen noodles, fruit sushi, pastrami egg rolls, the mac n cheese pancake sandwich and tandoori chicken bruschetta.

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Show off Your Skills As a Cruise Ship Chef

 

Show off Your Skills As a Cruise Ship ChefCruise ship chefs jobs don’t always have to involve toiling away in a galley below deck, wondering about the delighted faces of guests who enjoy your food. Today’s travelling demographic often includes guests who enjoy culinary experiences – not just indulging in it, but also learning more about what they eat.

Cooking classes and demonstrations are among the popular activities guests like to engage in while on board. These include private classes or small group lessons of around five to 10 where guests can share one-on-one experiences with chefs, understand more about technique, and take away memories of great food and new recipes.

Many cruise ships offer classes with celebrity chefs, but they are not always available on board. Displaying good cheffing skills, warm yet professional behaviour and in-depth knowledge of the culinary arts can land you a cooking or demonstration class.

Azamara cruises, for example, gives cruise ship chefs a chance to teach interested guests how to make sushi or sashimi and whip up their favourite risotto. On Crystal Cruises, the excursions team schedules complementary food-themed tours in port, so guests can connect what they learn with you on board to the food they eat on land.

On Holland America, private cooking classes allow guests to understand the secrets of great pesto and making the perfect jerk chicken, even as celebrity chefs lead demos at regular intervals. Exclusive cooking classes, which are more often than not priced in the top range, are coveted by guests eager to learn specific techniques and skills used by those in celebrity chef kitchens. This would mean passing on knowledge learnt as part of the team upholding the reputation of the celebrity chef on board. It’s a big responsibility.

A variety of river cruises specializing in unique culinary experiences for guests are joining the bandwagon. Owing to their courses, often focusing on the Mediterranean region, the vessels make port often, allowing cruise ship chefs to take guests opting for their exclusive cooking classes ashore to source ingredients.

Scenic Cruises, for example, has remodeled its dining rooms on board the Scenic Diamond, Scenic Sapphire and Scenic Emerald to house new private cooking emporiums. This space boasts cooking stations, cheese and wine cellars and audio-visual screens for up to 10 guests to easily view the cooking instructions from the chef leading the class.

Similar cruises with exclusive cooking classes see cruise ship chefs head ashore with the guests to source local ingredients such as conch in the Bahamas or Bordeaux chocolate in France, head back on board and show participants how to cook with them.

In a similar vein, cruise ships are also offering classes on wines and their pairings, with in-depth knowledge to guests on everything from appropriate glassware to grape origins. The Queen Mary 2 launched its Carinthia Lounge, which has a Wine Academy – a space where the chief sommelier and the wine team lead exclusive classes on various topics, regional tastings and producer workshops.

Being a good cruise ship chef can open a mine of opportunities even on board, so you can try something different through the course of your time at sea.

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How Cruise Ship Chefs Can Reduce Kitchen Wastage

How Cruise Ship Chefs Can Reduce Kitchen WastageCruise ship chefs jobs involve cooking delicious food for thousands of people at least three times daily. This does not take into account snacks like fries, ice creams and cookies spread out over the course of the day. With so much food being prepared, there is bound to be wastage.

In recent times, cruise ship companies have received negative attention for food wastage. However, in any commercial kitchen, it is difficult to completely eliminate waste as much of this depends on the consumer. If a parent orders a side of vegetables for their fussy child who either eats very little or does not touch it, the dish must be thrown out.

But wastage is not just bad for the environment, it is also bad for the bottom line. Reducing kitchen waste can save the company a lot of money. Food waste on cruise ships has been estimated to be as much as 30 per cent, so making changes in house can help a great deal.

One of the easiest ways for cruise ship chefs to reduce wastage is awareness. Understanding the impact of food leftovers and other waste can help them look at how they store and prepare their dishes differently. For example, they can reduce the amount of mass that gets cut off along with the head of a vegetable such as carrots or turnips.

It also helps for chefs to use specialised equipment when cooking. Using paring knives to skin fruit or fillet knives to clean and debone fish allow them to execute the job properly, with minimum wastage. Similarly, using spatulas when transferring food or ingredients from one utensil to another also helps reduce the amount going into the bin.

Food that perishes quickly must be used and stored smartly. The provisions manager assesses the amount of produce required for the days before the cruise ship hits port again and stocks accordingly. Cruise ship chefs must ensure they use the most ripe fruit and vegetables first so they do not go bad.

Those that are slightly overripe can be used in recipes that require them, such as jams and preserves, pickles, soups and stews and even ice cream. Dry bread is very often to make toast and breadcrumbs.

Sometimes, cruise ship chefs can get innovative to reduce wastage. Daily specials are a great way for them to use up food that has already been cooked but not served. Leftovers of the same day like rice can be used to make rice pudding or Asian-style fried rice. Grilled meats and fish have a variety of uses including club sandwiches, soups, wraps, tacos, pot pies and more.

Still, it is important for cruise ship chefs to try and cut wastage before food is prepared. One way to do this is learning about how each person moves in the kitchen. Training sessions allow the entire food and beverage staff to understand the rules of movement in a galley. This means that people in a particular position follow a certain pattern of movement in their work. This not only increases efficiency but also reduces any unintentional bumping that might cause spillage.

Additionally, it helps to store cooked food correctly. For example, storing new batches of mayonnaise to the right of the fridge and older ones to the left increases the chances that the older ones will be used first, particularly when cruise ship chefs are in a rush and don’t have time to read use by labels.

During service, some cruise ships use smaller plates to reduce portion sizes, particularly at all-you-can-eat buffets where guests are more likely to fill up their plates whether they are hungry or not. When serving heavy food such as rich desserts or thick sauces, serving sizes can be reduced to a more appropriate amount.

Food wastage is a vital issue that many cruise ships are trying to tackle to not only help the environment but also reduce financial losses.

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Unusual Types Of Cooking Methods

NUSUAL TYPES OF COOKING METHODSCruise ship chefs jobs involve the knowledge of numerous cooking methods to whip up the wide variety of dishes served on board. Thousands of meals are made to satisfy every taste, from thin crust pizzas to grilled chicken, slow-cooked roast and delicious deep-fried donuts.

Some of the common methods of cooking used by cruise ship chefs include baking, grilling, frying, roasting, stewing, boiling and pressure cooking. In addition, there are others that are slightly more uncommon in home kitchens requiring technical knowledge and / or specific equipment. Here are a few:

SHIRRING

Shirring is done mainly with eggs, typically cooked in a dish called a shirrer. However, these days, they are cooked in any glass or ceramic dish with a flat bottom. The method involves baking the eggs in butter until the albumen turns opaque but the yolk stays runny. Shirred eggs are most commonly eaten for breakfast or brunch.

COCKAIGNE

This is a method of slow cooking chicken breasts using low temperatures to heat the meat from the outside in. Oil or butter is poured into a pan so it covers the bottom evenly. Medium high heat is turned down to medium and flattened chicken breasts are cooked on one side for a minute before the heat is reduced to a simmer and the chicken flipped over to cook for about 10 minutes. During this time, the chicken is covered and cooked using the trapped heat. After this, the dish is taken off the heat, but left to sit still covered for an additional 10 minutes to finish the process.

BAIN-MARIE

A bain-marie is a water bath in an oven, using fluid in between two dishes to heat the food gradually and gently. A great variety of dishes can be cooked in a bain-marie, particularly custards and cheesecakes as this method of cooking prevents it from crusting and cracking on the top.

Bain-maries are also used to melt chocolate, thicken condensed milk for desserts and make delicate sauces such as hollandaise and beurre blanc.

SOUS VIDE

This cooking method uses accurately controlled, low temperatures to cook food over an extended period of time. The produce or meat is generally vacuum sealed in a plastic bag or glass jar and placed in a water or steam bath where temperatures vary between 55 degrees C to 60 degrees C for meat and a little higher for vegetables.

Sous vide cooking locks in the juices and aromas of the food being cooked resulting in flavourful dishes which retain moisture and are cooked evenly.

BASTING

This method is popular when cooking delicately flavoured meats, using their own juices or special marinades to retain flavour and moisture. The dish is placed on a grill, in an oven or rotisserie and cooked over a long period of time. Moisture-rich vegetables and fruit or fatty food such as bacon are sometimes added alongside to ensure that that there is constant moisture throughout the process. Basting requires care and attention as the meat can easily dry out if the method is not followed correctly

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How Cruises Promote Food Tourism

How Cruises Promote Food TourismAround the world, people are understanding the potential behind food tourism – essentially the exploration of the culinary aspect of travel as an experience for visitors. Cruises play an important role here, given that each vessel brings in thousands of guests to ports where many will opt for shore excursions.

Food is a significant part of the tourist experience, and in cruise destinations, this opens a new world of market opportunities for cruise companies, local stakeholders and the destination as a whole.

On board itself, cruise ship chefs find themselves cooking a variety of different cuisines – from Thai or Indian to French, Japanese, Arabic, Italian, Mexican and more. Popular destinations such as the Bahamas, Mediterranean cities and Asian ports come with their own culinary traditions that an increasing number of guests are keen to try.

Food tourism typically covers any of the four following styles – food tours, cooking classes, wine / beer / food festivals, and specialty dining experiences. These offer guests a deeper insight into local culture and traditions through food, and an interesting new way to discover the destination.

With food tourism slowly gaining ground, many shore excursions like to offer a mix of experiences through food tours. These include visits to local markets where guests can see, touch and taste exotic vegetables and fruit. They combine these with a cooking demonstration of a popular local dish or a visit to restaurants well-versed in the food of the region.

Beer or wine tours are more common in European cruise destinations where guests can spend the day visiting vineyards or even whiskey or beer distilleries. It helps widen their understanding of the process that goes into making the beverage, and also gives them an opportunity to taste the local varieties on offer.

Culinary shore excursions can last from a few hours to an entire day, and many tour companies tailor their services to suit ship timings. Royal Caribbean, for example, offers a four-hour tour around St Maarten that takes guests across the Dutch and French sides of the island with samplings of Dutch, French and Creole food.

Similarly, P&O Cruises offers an eight-hour tour across Hunter Valley, home to Australia’s oldest and best known wine estates, with as many as 90 wineries. In addition, guests get the opportunity to taste local craft beer, indulge in regional produce and shop for home-grown and home-made products including cheese, chocolates and liquors. A food and wine pairing lunch is also part of the excursion.

In Goa too, cruise guests have been known to attend culinary tours with Rita’s Gourmet in the port town of Vasco da Gama, where they visit a fruit and vegetable market, sample an Indian breakfast or hot snacks, watch a demonstration on making masala herbal tea and black cinnamon coffee, and participate in making a Goan meal before of course indulging.

Some cruise ship chefs may be able to sign up for crew tours or take one on their own, depending on free time available. It’s a great way to widen your palate, discover new flavour combinations and gain new experiences that are sure to come in handy through the course of your career.

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Cruise Ship Chefs: Keeping up with Culinary Trends

Cruise Ship Chefs: Keeping up with Culinary TrendsThe world of cruising has come a long way since the early days, particularly in terms of food. Cruise ship chefs were earlier required to simply feed the guests as a matter of course. When luxury took over and the trend caught on, food became an important part of the cruise experience.

Cruising is a multi-billion dollar industry. Trends show that it is increasing in popularity each year and companies much keep innovating to stay ahead of competitors. For cruise ship chefs, this means understanding what’s out there and preparing for what is to come.

READ

This may not sound like something a cruise ship chef might like to do, but it can be fairly helpful. Reading up on the latest trends in the culinary world will keep you abreast of the changing times.

You can subscribe to food and hospitality magazines, follow their pages on social media or opt to get their newsletters. It could be as simple as indicating your interest in this field on various websites or social networking forums, and then reading the articles or watching the videos that can help.

EAT OUT

When in port, take the time to visit restaurants or places where the locals tend to eat. If you have the time and money, you could splurge on a meal at one of the port’s top rated restaurants. This will give you an idea of changing trends in that region.

Eating at local restaurants or visiting local markets can give cruise ship chefs a wholesome idea of the various ingredients in different parts of the world. This can help create your own flavour patterns when the time comes.

ON-BOARD TRAINING

Many cruise lines incorporate training for their staff. Safety plays a big role on board and there will be lots of training in this regard, but for cruise ship chefs, other skills also play a big role.

Opt for in-house training programmes that will help you sharpen your skills or teach you new trends. You may learn about new ingredients, styles of cooking or even new apparatus in the galley.

Sometimes, even just being aware while at work can teach you new things. For example, guests from different countries often tend to eat or choose their food differently. You may also notice a swing towards a particular type of food – perhaps health food, vegan or keto dishes, etc.

Food trends normally do not change overnight, so you may be able to incorporate some of the things you learnt in one contract to the next.

ADD VARIETY

After some experience and depending on company policy, you may get the chance to choose the kind of cuisine or restaurant you would like to work with. Here, it is important to choose different types of cuisines if you have not yet made up your mind about your favoured one, or choose different restaurants serving that same kind of cuisine.

This helps you get a deeper understanding of the latest trends in that particular cuisine style. Ask for the opportunity to work with celebrity chefs on board. Their restaurants will almost always follow some of the latest trends in the industry.

INVEST IN YOURSELF

Using some of your vacation days to update your skills may come in handy. This is not saying that you should spend your entire time off studying, but a weekend course or two in the latest skills could work wonders.

You can bring yourself up-to-date on the latest trends in your own local cuisine or visit restaurants at home that are pushing boundaries.

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How Cruise Ship Kitchens use Technology for Better Experiences

How Cruise Ship Kitchens use Technology for Better Experiences

Kitchen In the 21st century, it makes no sense for cruise ships to stay cut off from technology that people on land are so used to. This especially makes sense in cruise ship kitchens where meals for thousands of guests must be prepared and served several times a day.

In the galley around which most cruise ship chefs jobs revolve, technology has pervaded many areas. Stand mixers replace hand mixers, large vats maintain temperature and highly accurate machines help reduce human intervention for techniques such as sous vide cooking.

Today, as microbreweries make waves on shore, cruise ships are catching on too. Instead of only offering guests branded beer, some companies are starting to brew their own. Carnival Cruises has its own label and serves this craft beer on all its ships. Vista and Horizon cruises also brew their own beer on board. Technology helps maintain specific temperatures and other minute details that change the taste and composition of the beer.

Cruise ship companies are also answering demands for a more immersive experience and some have taken to having show kitchens where guests themselves can attempt a specialty dish. On Holland America, guests can enjoy live cooking demos that make use of cameras and real-time TV so they can see close ups of the chef’s techniques and the ingredients used.

In restaurants, new-age software and equipment has made its way into aspects such as menus and reservations. If guests are too busy having fun or are too late to make it to their restaurant of choice on a busy day, they can opt to make reservations on the go using built-in cruise apps. Companies including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, MSC, and NCL all have their own apps that passengers can use. MSC’s app even allows guests to simply swipe and book a dinner reservation – as well as other activities – on a wearable high-tech bracelet.

Using interactive screens also helps guests choose what they would like for meals. MSC Meraviglia, for example, offers guests the use of a large digital screen to view all the goings-on each day. Using this, they can see all the restaurants available to dine at, the times they are open, and their menus. This makes it much easier for guests to decide which restaurant they really want to visit that day and also make a reservation ahead of time.

Technology also helps with walk-ins. Guests can check which restaurants have tables free at that particular time or whether the specific restaurant they want to eat at has free tables for their preferred meal.

Royal Caribbean has taken the digital experience further by experimenting with virtual reality in cruise ship dining. While still in the concept phase, the project attempts to combine virtual reality with food for a multi-sensory dining experience.

Many cruise ships are now gearing their new technology towards energy efficiency with speed. German manufacturer MKN has developed automatic systems that clean pans within two minutes without the use of chemicals. Its combi steamer even has digital displays that note the amount of energy and water used during a cooking process for better efficiency and sustainability.

Other companies such as Halton Marine have developed energy saving galley hoods that reduce environmental footprints.

Put together, new technology and software in galleys makes for an interesting and efficient experience for both guests as well as cruise ship chefs.

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Why Passion is Required in a Cruise Ship Chefs Jobs

Why Passion is Required in a Cruise Ship Chefs JobsThe culinary world is a fast-paced, constantly evolving and hard working industry. Learning how to be a chef and keeping up with trends can suck the life out of you. This is the basic reason why it is so important to have passion for your work, particularly as a cruise ship chef.

Being a cruise ship chef is a demanding job

The world of cruise ship chefs involves hours of hard labour, behind the scenes. It is extremely rare that a cruise ship chef is called out by a guest to be thanked. You will probably be one of dozens working on the menu for the day, ensuring everything is up to standard. Having an undying passion for cooking will ensure that no matter how thankless your job is, how badly your day went down and how tired you are at the end of it, you will still wake up the next morning raring to go. Every day of your contract.

Evolution is the name of the game

Guests on cruise ships are no longer satisfied with the same food every day. Even classics need to be top-notch, treated with care and sometimes put a spin on to remain relevant. As a cruise ship chef, your job may require you to ensure that the menu developed by the company is followed to the T. This does not mean there is no evolution or change. Menus are often revamped from one season to the next, or you may be transferred to another vessel. Keeping the passion for being a chef alive will ensure you get through what might seem a mundane job to a point where you make the decisions.

The process of passion is baptism by fire

Passion is not just a heartfelt desire to do something for the rest of your life. It survives the test of time and the ravages of hard work. To do this, one must go through the process of passion. Whether it is a full-scale graduate course in hospitality or a series of rigorous short-term diplomas in culinary specifics, there may be days when you ask yourself if you are truly cut out for the industry. But this is where the passion for the culinary arts is born. If you love what you do, you will persevere through the short-term for long-term gains.

Learning is an important part of passion

In the culinary world, simply knowing you have passion is not enough. Learning is an important part of cruise ship chefs jobs, particularly in the fundamentals. Having a good grip on the basics is the foundation for tweaking skills and techniques even later in life. Keep an eye out for masterclasses by renowned chefs, tutorials and workshops to continuously learn new things and broaden your horizon.

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