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What To Ask Before Joining a Culinary School

What To Ask Before Joining a Culinary SchoolMost culinary positions, including cruise ship jobs, demand some level of formal instruction. While it is possible to climb the ladder based solely on your passion and motivation to learn on the job, it might be easier to get a foothold in the mainstream industry with some qualifications or experience under your belt.

So here are a few things you should ask yourself and the culinary school before taking the decision to sign up.

Should I get a degree or a diploma?

Many culinary schools offer both options. A degree involves around four years of training, in-depth and schooling in focused skills and management, including personnel and budget management, as well as learning how to cook. Opting for a diploma means a shorter course that is often specific to a type of cooking – pastry and baking, bartending or general entry level instruction.

Based on your preference, time and funds available, you can shop around for the appropriate schools that offer what you’re looking for.

What is the culinary school’s reputation in the industry?

This may not seem important, but in today’s competitive world, fly-by-night operators are more common than ever before. Thanks to the internet, it is far easier to create beautiful websites that can hoodwink unsuspecting students. Ask around about the reputation of various institutions to cross-check their background. You may even call or visit the school  if possible before taking your final decision.

Is it located in a culinary destination?

The school’s location in a place well known for variety in food can help immensely with your exposure to the industry – its inner workings, creative new endeavours and also internships and placements. Goa is a hotbed for tourism and hospitality, making it an ideal place for a reputed culinary institute like the American College of Culinary & Language Arts (ACCLA) to be located.

What specialisations are on offer?

Culinary institutions can have varied programmes. Choose your specialisation – if offered – based on what you’d like your career graph to look like.

Do on-site chef instructors lead the programme?

Having someone well-versed in the workings of the industry can make a big difference to the quality of your instruction. Chef instructors can help teach you short cuts to efficiency, techniques and skills that will otherwise only be learned through years of work.

How much time is spent in the kitchen?

Working as a culinary professional demands in-depth, hands-on skills so a focus on practical sessions over theory is important.

How often are students graded and what is the classroom size?

Having frequent tests and practical quizzes keeps students on their toes and strengthens the understanding of fundamental concepts, which helps immensely in the industry. Additionally, a healthy teacher-student ratio allows for better individual attention.

Are there internship and placement programmes?

Most culinary institutions include an internship programme as part of the curriculum. Internships are valuable experiences which offer students real-world working conditions. Many schools do not offer placements, but for those that do, students can expect jobs quite quickly if they do well.

Can I be a vegetarian in school?

Many students have dietary restrictions for ethical, religious or health reasons. However, they may still have to cook with ‘prohibited’ ingredients. Typically, they find a way around it – they could give up for the duration of the course, or taste the dish until the ‘prohibited’ ingredient is added – getting a fellow student to taste instead, or judge the preparation based on sight, sound and smell.

Is there accommodation and financial assistance?

For degree courses, it can help to be located close to school. Some culinary schools offer hostel accommodation while others may help students locate appropriate lodging. Culinary programmes can also be expensive, so it helps to look for financial assistance if provided – through loans and scholarships.

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Cruise Ship Chefs & Instagram

Cruise Ship Chefs & InstagramInstagram is the most widely used photo and video-sharing social networking service in the world, with more than 800 million users as of September 2017. Used well, it can be an excellent launch pad for new businesses, help immensely with sales and marketing, and generate business.

For cruise ship chefs, Instagram is a great way to set the tone for future ventures and showcase abilities. On board, you will be sending out thousands of meals in a single day; with a variety that boggles most minds. You can use Instagram to create a visual resumé of the food you create to better your prospects. Here are a few tips to take better photographs for Instagram:

KNOW YOUR PHONE

Today’s phones offer innumerable options for photographs. Take test shots on your phone to understand how it works in different lighting conditions and how its various manual settings affect the image.

Knowing how your phone responds to various settings will help you take quick decisions in the galley for the perfect photo.

PLAY WITH LIGHT & ANGLES

Almost every notable Instagram influencer advises using natural light for better images. But this is not always possible on board. If you are a cruise ship chef working a barbeque close to deck or a pastry chef doing demos outdoors, it might be possible. But down in the galley, you will almost always be depending on artificial light.

In this case, use it as best you can, ensuring that the light is always away from you and not behind you to avoid shadows on your food. Use white napkins to help bounce light back onto your dish or the torch from a friend’s phone to light up a specific spot in your frame.

You don’t always have to take photographs from the same angle either. Switch it up now and then to get a better picture of your food. Try a 45 degree angle or a close up shot or even an overhead shot to bring the dish into focus.

FOCUS ON THE FOOD

Ensure that the food is always the main focus of your photograph. Keep the phone steady so you avoid blurred images, and find a focal point for your image. It could be the gooey layers of a chocolate cake, the mélange of colourful items on a Buddha bowl or a steaming cup of coffee.

Additionally, it might be interesting to add some action into your photograph. Perhaps include the process of making food – a cutting board with knife and vegetables that are indicative of the dish you are about to make, a smoothie or tea being poured, a ratatouille being placed in the oven.

Colour makes a big difference to photographs on Instagram so if your dish has colour, take a picture or two. Sometimes, the serving dish can bring out the colour of the food – perhaps a black plate with a dollop of creamy hummus and a vibrant garnish on the side.

TAKE SEVERAL SHOTS

That said, take time to compose your photograph. Even though you can now take horizontal and vertical photographs on Instagram, it remains a predominantly square medium.

One useful practice is to remember the rule of thirds – a classic composition strategy in which you divide your frame vertically and horizontally in thirds. The main focus of your photograph should rest where the lines intersect – typically a third of the way from the top or bottom, and right or left.

Once your photograph has been composed, take multiple images. Sometimes, the image is fuzzy, has a shadow, or your arm is bumped by mistake in the galley. Taking a few options allows you to later choose the best one to upload.

POST-PROCESS

Finally, don’t be afraid to tweak the image here and there. It’s best to avoid filters, say Instagram bloggers, and instead use photo editing apps like Snapseed and Afterlight that mimic some of the features of Photoshop.

With these, you can adjust colour saturation, brightness, warmth and more, but sparingly. The key is to use it to make the photograph look better, not fake. The food in your photograph should look appetising and interesting.

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Indian Food Gets Trendy : Cruise Culinary

Cruise Culinary Indian Food Gets TrendyCruise booking portal cruisemeout suggested that the demand in India for luxury travel rises 40 per cent each year. And it’s not surprising. Indian travellers are the third most numerous travellers to Singapore – a major cruise market, and were similarly placed in 2005 in the island nation’s top cruise source markets list with 63,000 passengers.

But that’s not all, Indians are cruising around the world too. Enjoying increasing incomes, Indians are looking for adventures to exotic places, turning up on international cruises to Antarctica and Iceland, Galapagos Islands and even the Arctic Circle.

And it’s not just those living in India. The Indian diaspora is also taking cruise holidays, often with the entire family, to places around the world. The cruise industry is slowly understanding the huge potential of the Indian market, particularly with increasing disposable income and an eagerness for adventure.

But the trend remains that while Indians do love adventure, they also enjoy eating Indian food. Many Indian cruise-goers are senior – often the elderly parents of travelling families. The old and the very young often prefer comfort food and familiar tastes over new flavours and dishes. Additionally, a large number of cruise guests from India are strictly vegetarian and a fair number follow Jain dietary restrictions. To cater to their needs, cruise companies are going all out to include authentic Indian cuisine and flavours.

Celebrity Cruises now has sailings to India from the UAE which comes with a special Indian menu, Costa Cruises sails from India to the Maldives and Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas is soon expected to touch Indian shores.

Earlier, Indian cruise passengers would get their fix by asking the numerous Indian crew to sort something out for them. Today, many cruise ships – even those that do not come to India – offer Indian food on the menu and in some cases even specialty restaurants. With vegetarianism, veganism and yoga taking the world by storm, Indian food has become a trend offering dozens of options of authentic food that fit the bill.

Superstar’s Virgo boasts the beautiful Taj Indian Buffet Restaurant which avoids pork and lard in the cooking process. Carnival’s Tandoor flagship restaurant is present on two of its ships – Splendor and Breeze. On most ships, guests can request Indian vegetarian as a choice for the entire cruise, alongside other dietary preferences such as low-carb, low-sugar, vegan, kosher, etc.

Staples include fragrant Basmati rice, a variety of dals, pickles, yogurt and papad. Naans and rotis are other popular items. For mains, Indian vegetarian favourites such as palak paneer, malai kofta, aloo mutter and chhole masala are typically included as these are mildly spiced and appeal to travellers of other cultural backgrounds as well.

Among the meat dishes, lamb and chicken gravies are popular while beef and pork dishes are mostly non-existent. Fish and prawn appear tandoor-style or as a Goan curry. Chicken butter masala and chicken tikka masala are among the favourites, particularly on ships that see a higher number of British passengers.

Celebrity Indian chefs like Atul Kochhar and Ranveer Brar are now taking regional cuisine worldwide with their menus on board P & O Cruises and Royal Caribbean. Kochhar’s Sindhu restaurant offers specialties such as the thattukada duck roast, akha gosht or lamb roast, and Coorgi meen kari – a fish dish from southern India.

Brar’s menu for his stint on board Voyager of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas includes some of his own creations such as amla chhole and gongura chicken which feature regional inspiration but have a global appeal.

Indian food certainly has great potential in cruising, particularly with the number of Indian passengers increasing each year. If the domestic cruise industry kicks off as hoped, the demand for Indian food on board will spike along with a need for Indian cruise ship chefs.

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Cruise Ship Chefs: Prepping for Peak Hours

Cruise Ship Chefs: Prepping for Peak HoursSo many people eat on a cruise ship at every meal that the main dining halls have staggered eating times. Menus at both buffets and à la carte restaurants can be complex and elaborate. Ensuring that every guest is served within a decent time frame can be stressful. It is here that proper planning plays a key role in service for rush hour. Cruise ship chefs begin prepping  meals the previous day. It begins with a look through the menu to understand the requirements of all the meals that will be served. This includes all the dishes – from salads to desserts, beverages and cocktails.

Estimates are made of the number of dishes expected to be ordered and a requisition form is sent to the provisions staff. This form includes every ingredient required for the next day’s meal. The provisions team ensures that all of these ingredients are readily available for the cruise ship chef the next day.

Preparations for rush hour begin early. Often, this can mean turning up at 4am for a 6am breakfast. Breads, donuts, pastries and other items are quickly put together and sent into the ovens to bake in batches. Meats or vegetables that need marination are set aside in the mixture and refrigerated until required.

Preparations for peak hour also include cruise ship chefs taking care of salad dressings, roux, meat gravies, coulis, jus and other accompaniments to main dishes. This way, when the time comes, they can concentrate on making fewer elements of the entire dish and simply ladle the accompaniments on quickly.

In this case, labels are very important. As soon as something is prepped, it goes into an appropriate container or bag and labelled with a name or description and the date or time. This helps cruise ship chefs know if something has been freshly prepared or it has gone past its use by date or time and could pose health risks if used.

If possible, best-selling items in each kitchen are prepared ahead of time to avoid any backlogs during rush hour. These could be certain items that the cruise ship has recorded as popular fare among its passengers over time.

Special orders are significant as they are out of the way but need to be made with extra focus and attention. These include meals for those with allergies and other dietary restrictions for health, religious or lifestyle reasons.

It helps greatly when special orders or restrictions come in ahead of time so cruise ship chefs can prepare early, sometimes making a meal off menu for the guest. If not, you must be prepared to rustle up something delicious on the go.

Preparing for rush hour on a cruise ship is like strategising a military operation. With key components in place and everyone doing their job with full attention and focus, it is possible to serve every guest to their full satisfaction.

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HOW TO LEAVE YOUR MARK AS A CRUISE SHIP CHEF

HOW TO LEAVE YOUR MARK AS A CRUISE SHIP CHEFLife as a cruise ship chef often receives criticism. No doubt it is tough and requires long working hours, but the take-aways in terms of skills and experience are immeasurable. Hundreds work as cruise ship chefs but not all are able to leave their mark and stand out. It may not be easy, but following a few basic habits can help you leave your mark as a cruise ship chef to get promotions within the cruise industry or recommendations for when you leave.

Keep a clean slate

The pressures of work can take their toll on anyone. It can lead to mistakes, which are understandable; but it can also lead to employees losing their cool with others. Never pick fights, engage in discriminatory behaviour or do anything illegal. These activities will go on record and could affect your next job application. Keeping a clean slate will get you top employee ratings.

Follow instructions

Thousands of dishes are cooked, plated and served at every meal on a cruise ship. Chefs need to know exactly how they must taste and what they need to look like to maintain consistency. It is important to follow instructions so you can help the food and beverage team with their goals. Consistency in quality of cooking, and particularly plating, is always noticed.

Be innovative

Following instructions, however, does not mean you cannot be creative or innovative. If you find something that can be improved or changed, bring it to the notice of your superiors. Good suggestions are welcomed, and although they may not always be implemented due to logistical or technical reasons, they will be noted. These could go on your record when you ask for recommendations for another job application.

Health & hygiene comes first

On cruise ships, hygiene is of utmost importance. Being noted for your strict adherence to hygiene standards will bring you recognition. Make sure you wash your hands often and correctly, keep your uniform spotless, and keep your nails trimmed at all times.

Ensuring you stay healthy and fit also works to your advantage. It might be difficult to exercise when you have long hours, but putting in 20 minutes a day with a well-balanced diet can help a great deal. This shows the company that you are less likely to be a health liability.

Be a team player

Being able to work well with others is always an advantage. When superiors note that you keep team spirits up, can be counted on to take the lead in stressful situations, and maintain composure during crises, they are more likely to promote you.

If others take the lead, make sure you do everything you can to achieve the goal. Coordinate with other members on your team, help those who might need a hand, and ask for help if you feel things are sliding on your end. The main aim is always achieving the collective goal.

In addition, sticking to general rules of hygiene and discipline always help when making your mark as a cruise ship chef.

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Cruise Chefs: How to Make Your Dish Exciting

Cruise Ship Chefs: How to Make Your Dish ExcitingPassion and creativity go hand-in-hand for chefs jobs. But with thousands in the fray, it becomes increasingly important to stand out at work. Knowing the basics may not be enough as you grow in the industry; you will need to up your game by making your dish exciting and appealing.

One of the main ways to create a new dish or make an existing dish exciting is to eat. Eat the dish you’re looking at changing and also other food, particularly those you are unfamiliar with. This will help you understand flavour profiles and expand your range. It will also give you the chance to pick up on tiny details of the dish and give you ideas for elements to change. You will be able to create interesting new pairings, or even swap a small element in an existing dish to completely change the flavours.

Another way to change a regular dish is to play with existing elements. Often, young students follow the book to the ‘T’, making sure every step of a recipe is followed through thoroughly. At a later stage in one’s career, you can look at taking your favourite dish that you have made beautifully for years, and switching it up. This can be done by playing with elements such as textures, plating and portion sizes.

You could take a curry and carb dish and make it exciting by introducing a crunchy element. You may not need to change the flavour, but just changing the texture can make the dish exciting. For example, instead of regular steamed rice, you could use rice crackers. Or instead of a boiled vegetable, you could use a purée.

Guests are becoming more adventurous with food, even on cruise ships. Watching food shows and reality TV contests can give you ideas of how to hero one ingredient on the plate and complement it with simple additions. Perhaps you could put the focus on beef or mushrooms and use even items like coffee or chocolate unusually in a savoury dish. The flavour changes can be subtle, but even so can make a dish different and interesting.

Talk to other chefs about ideas for your dish. You might find that a little tweak to an original idea could make it even more interesting. You can bounce off ideas for flavour combinations, thematic interpretations, and even presentation.

Finally, plating can be as important as the dish itself. A poorly presented dish will not be appetising to look at, thereby ruining the experience of the diner before he or she even puts a morsel in his or her mouth.

Plating is so important that when chefs are developing new dishes they sketch out several potential designs of presentations before the dish even comes into being. The kind of serving dishes, their size, shape and colour can make a difference too. Placement of the various elements on the plate is important as well, focusing on which ones the diner is likely to eat together.

Remember to pay attention to detail. Contrast colours of vegetables and meat, use long elements to create the illusion of height and create beautiful designs using sauces. Gorgeous and technically difficult garnishes are also a great way to catch your diner’s eyes. Meshes, chocolate shards, edible flowers and other similar elements can add an interesting component to your dish.

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CHRISTMAS DELIGHTS BY CRUISE SHIP CHEFS

CHRISTMAS DELIGHTS BY CRUISE SHIP CHEFSThe holidays are a time of joy and quality time with family. Unfortunately, this means that cruise ship chefs’ jobs get more demanding as they prepare to serve and feed thousands of guests with special Christmas treats during the season.

Cruise ships around the world offer a variety of Christmas dishes based on the demography of the guests. However, Western Christmas traditions have become popular across the board, and with a large percentage of cruise-goers coming from these countries, these dishes are a must-have at any Christmas cruise buffet.

ROAST TURKEY

The ideal Christmas turkey is a skin-on bird cooked slowly in the oven over two hours. It is often stuffed with herbs and nuts and is served with a lush gravy thickened with heavy cream and stock. Cruise ship chefs dress dozens of turkeys over the Christmas season to give guests a taste of home on holiday.

MINCE PIES

Contrary to its name, mince pies are, in fact, a sweet treat. Originally from Britain, they are small, individual pastry cases filled with a chunky dried fruit and spices mix. Cruise ship chefs often add alcohol to the mix, and focus on preparing the perfect pastry to go with it.

CHOCOLATE YULE LOG

The tradition of the yule log cake came from a special log of wood saved to be burnt in the hearth over the 12 days of Christmas. Today, to represent this, a chocolate yule log is made or genoise or basic sponge in a Swiss roll tin, and covered in ganache, buttercream and other icings. Cruise ship chefs make these particularly for guests from Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Quebec.

GINGERBREAD HOUSES

Gingerbread has long been associated with Christmas. It possibly came about as a medicinal remedy for over-eating that was common during the festive days. Gingerbread houses were thought to be created around the time the story of Hansel and Gretel became popular in Germany. Today, it is an interactive activity for families, and cruise companies like Disney even have competitions between their ships for the best gingerbread house display.

EGGNOG

Eggnog was a drink favoured by the aristocracy as milk, eggs and good alcohol were expensive. It is traditionally drunk in Britain and north America over the Christmas period, and can even be sold commercially in tetra packs. On board cruise liners, chefs make eggnog from scratch, using high quality milk, cream, sugar, whipped egg whites, egg yolks and spirits such as brandy, rum, whisky or bourbon.

CHRISTMAS PUDDING

Christmas pudding is a must-have over the holiday season in the UK and Ireland, and is quite common on cruise ships popular with these nationalities. The rich, boozy dessert, also known as plum pudding, contains a mixture of dried fruits and suet with treacle or molasses and flavoured often by cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and other spices. Given that the fruit must soak in alcohol over time, cruise ship chefs must begin preparations months ahead of time.

MULLED WINE

Also called glühwein, mulled wine is popular in Scandinavian countries, but is slowly gaining popularity across Europe. It is a spiced liquor often flavoured with orange peel, cardamom, ginger, cloves and cinnamon.

HONEY-GLAZED HAM

Ham is a beautiful addition to any Christmas spread. It denotes prosperity and success, and along with roast turkey, offers an excellent dish as a table centrepiece. Flavoured simply with honey or maple syrup and sometimes cloves, the whole leg of ham is cooked slowly in an oven for more than an hour. It is sometimes glazed with orange-cranberry sauce.

SUGAR COOKIES

Christmas sugar cookies are a classic treat that cruise ship chefs use to their advantage. They are a popular way of getting interactive with guests, by offering demo baking classes and cookie decorating sessions with children.

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How do Cruise Ship Chefs Prepare for the Holiday Season

How do Cruise Ship Chefs Prepare for the Holiday SeasonThe holiday season for centuries has been associated with Christmas and New Year in the northern hemisphere – lots of snow, fires burning, brandy and rum-based drinks, and everyone covered in furs. For many, the temptation to indulge in all of these Christmas memories in fine summery weather is too hard to resist. Their solution – a Christmas cruise.

For the West, the holiday season has been highly commercialized and cruise ship companies have seized the opportunity to cash in on this potential. Swarms of people opt to spend their vacations with family on board a cruise ship in more tropical locations such as the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Mexico, the Canary Islands, and perhaps further in the southern hemisphere in places like Australia and New Zealand.

For cruise ship chefs, this means more work than usual, as people tend to indulge themselves far more over the winter holidays than they might do even on a regular cruise. Cruise ships begin by taking stock of ingredients and ordering sufficient supplies, particularly of holiday specials such as turkeys, fruit and vegetable for pies, geese, and beverages including wines, brandy and rum.

Preparation for dishes that need time to cure such as ham, or to soak such as dried fruit for Christmas cake and pudding starts well ahead of the season. Cruise companies also analyse their guest lists and understand the demographics – such as predominant age groups or cultures – to design menus that will cater to their preferences.

With this in mind, cruise ship chefs jobs entail an understanding of various cultures and their specific Christmas specials. Guests from North America typically enjoy gingerbread, fruit pies, Christmas ham, roast turkey, and fruit cake. Passengers hailing from European countries such as Germany, France and Scandinavia prefer stollen, mulled wine, Christmas cookies, herring salad, sausages, smoked salmon, roast chicken, spice cookies, meatballs, cheeses and rice puddings.

Thanks to the rush over the holidays, cruise ship chefs must cook holiday specials in mammoth proportions. A major part of the decorations are gingerbread displays, which some cruise vessels go to great lengths in terms of size and detail.

Disney Cruise Line organises an annual competition among its ships for the best gingerbread house. In 2017, Disney Wonder created a magnificent display made with around 650 pounds of gingerbread dough, 220 pounds of icing sugar and 5250 gingerbread bricks, in addition to candies, cookies and other decorations.

Through the season, cruise ship chefs stay busy catering to passengers’ mammoth appetites for holiday specialties. P&O cruise ship chefs, for example, roast around 1100 turkeys and serve 600 bottles of Champagne. On Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, nearly 14000 mince pies and 744 Christmas puddings make their way out of the galleys, as well as nearly three-quarters of a tonne of turkey!

On the Silversea, chefs must prepare for guests who typically eat their way through a tonne of turkey and 2200 Christmas pantone, 2500 bottles of Champagne and 12000 bottles of vintage wine.

Fruit and vegetable sculptors and cruise ship chefs pull out all the stops on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year in particular, to create intricate as well as tempting displays of food at gala nights and buffets.

In addition, they must prepare special gift baskets and hampers for the shops, bakeries and on board Christmas markets, as well as special trays of treats to be sent to the suites during the holiday season.

Cruise ships are getting increasingly innovative, even during Christmas, with many looking at interactive sessions for chefs with guests including demonstrations or classes on making Christmas sweets and puddings, and cookie decorating for children.

Being the holiday season, work becomes even more hectic for cruise ship chefs as they put in extra hours to keep up with the high demand and extra trimmings.

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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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