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How Cruise Ship Kitchens use Technology for Better Experiences

Kitchen

How Cruise Ship Kitchens use Technology for Better ExperiencesIn 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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How to Prepare for a Cruise Ship Chef Interview

How to Prepare for a Cruise Ship Chef InterviewVying for a job that many others are hoping to get is always daunting. But it’s worth remembering that thousands have stood in your shoes before, and succeeded, whether or not on the first try. Still, there are a few key things to keep in mind when preparing yourself for your first interview to get a cruise ship chef job.

Appearance

As part of the wider hospitality industry, appearance makes a strong impression. Dress formally and decently. You needn’t look at branded clothes or fancy accessories. Clean, well-ironed skirts, shirts, trousers and dresses work well. Shine your shoes and wear clean socks. While a suit and a tie could leave a better impression. For those choosing to wear dresses or skirts, it’s best to play safe with regard to decency – hemlines should not be high, necklines not deep, and midriffs covered unless you are wearing a sari.

Body odour

This is an uncomfortable issue that many experience. Sweat and, thereby, body odour are amplified when one is nervous or anxious. This is worsened in tropical conditions where humidity is high. Most interviews will be conducted in an air-conditioned room but nervousness does not play fair. Try to stay calm by revising your answers to common questions, listening to music, meditating silently or engaging in other activities that relax you, so you avoid sweating. Choose clothes made of fabrics that breathe easily, such as linen, cotton and hemp. Take a shower before heading out for the interview, brush your teeth and wear deodorant or perfume.

Punctuality

This is extremely important as it shows your work ethic. Be at least 10 minutes earlier than your allotted reporting time. If you leave home early, it will ensure you do not have to rush and in the bargain, get hot and sweaty. It will help to confirm the exact location of the interview so you do not get lost. Request landmarks and specific directions beforehand, if necessary.

Research

Know a little about the company you are applying to. Websites can provide information about their area of operation and cruise ships, crew programmes that you might be interested in, perhaps even a particular cause that they support.

Understand the responsibilities of the role you are applying for and note down questions you may want to ask. If you know someone who works for the same company, speak to them about work conditions, opportunities for skill development and other details.

Prepare answers

It helps to have answers to questions many interviewers like to ask. They may ask you questions related to your knowledge and skills, such as the recipe to a particular dish, cooking temperatures and cleanliness routines. Interviewers may also want to know what your long-term plans are at work, about your strengths and weaknesses, and why you think they should hire you.

Other easy questions such as your favourite dishes to prepare or a cuisine you are proficient in, about your educational qualifications or the reason why you wanted to work as a chef.

For these, focus on the job you are applying for and ensure your answers show how you meet their criteria. Always answer honestly and try not to ramble on.

Above all, be confident.

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Cruise Ships & Local Produce

Cruise Ships & Local ProduceCruise ship chefs no longer have the liberty of sticking to ‘common ingredients’ in the galleys. Sure, the regulars are available, but trends are pointing to a more nuanced guest list and a more travelled palate. In that sense, knowing local cuisine and how to use locally sourced ingredients is now paramount.

Today, guests on a cruise ship are not shy about asking where their food is from. Many are concerned about sustainability and animal cruelty, so part of cruise ship jobs includes knowing as much about the ingredients as you can.

To feed the thousands who embark on cruises each trip, vessels must plan the menus for all of their restaurants well in advance. All their ingredients and stocks are also tendered for and ordered weeks ahead of the actual trip. So it helps to know which ingredients are good at each port.

New Zealand, for example, is known for excellent quality mussels, while Sydney by contrast is famous for its oysters. Cruise ships stopping in Hawai’i will most likely pick up tons of fresh pineapple from there because that’s what’s good.

Using locally sourced ingredients also reduces costs for cruise ship companies. Vendors are able to provide the freshest produce at port with a reduced cost of transportation. This, in turn, could also reduce prices of the food. For example, it is logically cheaper for an Australian cruise to buy good quality beef from a port in the same country than for them to source special wagyu from Japan. The wagyu might still be available on board, but the prices will certainly be higher.

Smaller ships find it much easier to localise their menus, particularly those sailing around the Mediterranean or even in Scandinavia. Holland America’s seafood brasserie offers guests a fresh catch of the day, picked up in ports it stops at. This means that cruise ship chefs would need to learn how to clean and cook the various species of fish common in that area.

Similarly, the Princess’ cruises in Alaska takes interested guests out on a fishing excursion and encourage them to get their catch cooked on board anyway they like. It’s a unique experience for guests and presents a lovely challenge for cruise ship chefs too.

Using locally sourced ingredients also helps the communities of the ports cruise lines visit. Lindblad Expeditions, for example, has developed a close connection with farmers and vendors in the Galápagos Islands and Ecuador, sourcing a variety of ingredients from kale, chillies and tomatoes to pork, craft beer, even cocktail mixers and sugar from them.

Working with locally produced wine and cheeses is also very common. This presents a nuanced challenge for cruise ship chefs, as cheeses in particular have very specific tastes and using them as an ingredient requires precision and care.

Menus on board cruise ships now feature gourmet-style items such as quail, cold-smoked salmon, and wild forest mushrooms, artisanal cheeses and seafood that is unique to a certain area or port.

Learning more about the food of the ports on the itinerary and the various ways to cook them can not only enhance cruise ship chefs’ knowledge but also their skills and techniques that will hold them in good stead throughout their careers.

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Five Types of Wines and What to Pair with Them

Five Types of Wines and What to Pair with ThemStudies show that global consumption of wine is increasing. In the US, imports of rosé from France grew as much as 4,852 per cent since 2001, according to food industry analyst Food Dive. With many cruise ships ferrying US passengers, this trend is sure to find its way on board as well. As such, it is important for those with cruise ship jobs in the food and beverage section to know the wines being served on board, and what to pair them with.

Commonly, wine is divided into red and white, but as cruise ship chefs would know, there are five basic types. Let’s look at each with suggested wine pairings.

RED WINE

The colour of red wine doesn’t usually come from black grapes as these fruit have a greenish-yellow pulp. The colour and flavour of the wine is extracted from the skin of the fruit. New wines can look a bit purple, while slightly more mature wines turn red, and older wines get deeper to brown.

Look at pairing food such as mushrooms and truffles with a Pinot Noir, a hearty steak with the usual Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux red, and Malbec for heavy Asian meat dishes and spicy barbeques.

WHITE WINE

It is the colourless grape pulp that normally goes into making white wine. Black grapes are also used to make white wine, but the vintner must be extremely careful when separating the pulp from the skin. The liquid from the pulp is then allowed to ferment completely to make dry wine or only partially for sweet wines.

Go with Chardonnay for a meal comprising fish in flavourful sauces, but if there are tangy elements to the dish choose a Sauvignon Blanc instead. You could also pick something a little more region specific like Portugal’s Vinho Verde or Spain’s Verdejo. For lighter flavours choose a Chablis, Arneis or Pinot Grigio.

ROSÉ

To make rosé, a vintner uses only a small amount of dark grape skin, enough to lend colour and a hint of flavour but not enough to make it a true red. There are numerous ways to make rosé, and a wide variety of grapes from around the world are used for different flavours. It is currently an increasingly popular choice with millenials.

Rosé is in fact a great wine for cheeses thanks to its fruitiness. It’s the perfect wine for Mediterranean food. During the summer, suggest Italy’s Bardolino Chiaretto with salads, grilled fish and raw oysters. Guests who prefer slightly sweeter tastes can go with Portuguese varietals that can even be paired with mild curries and rice-based dishes.

SPARKLING WINE

Sparkling wine is the fizzy variety of wine. Natural fermentation either in a bottle or in a large tank causes a high concentration of carbon dioxide which gives the wine this fizzy quality. Champagne is the most famous sparkling wine, and in the European Union the name is legally reserved for wines made of grapes grown in the Champagne region of France.  

Champagne is known to pair well with slightly salty dishes, so it’s a great option to offer with savoury hors d’oeuvres including foie gras, smoked salmon and caviar. Use a rosé sparkling varietal such as the beloved prosecco with Asian food and antipasti, or the slightly cheaper cava to go with sushi and tapas.

DESSERT WINE

Dessert wines typically have a higher amount of sugar than the others, but its specific categorisation differs around the world. To make dessert wine, vintners either use naturally sweet grapes; fortify the wine with sugar, honey or alcohol; or extract the water content to concentrate the sugar.

The go-to method of pairing sweet wine and dessert is to offer an acidic wine for items that incorporate fruit and an intense wine for a strong flavoured dessert. If sweetness is the main element, cruise ship chefs must ensure that the wine is sweeter than the dessert. California’s famous Zinfandel goes well with rich caramel pecan fudge or cheesecake, Hungary’s Tokaji can be paired with cheese plates or sweet cheese desserts, Moscato with raspberry or strawberry desserts, and Moscatel with heavy chocolate ones.

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How Cruise Ship Chefs Prep to Feed Thousands

How Cruise Ship Chefs Prep to Feed ThousandsImagine having to feed 5000 guests and 2000 crew three meals a day every day. Consider the logistics, planning and hard labour that goes into an operation this size. But this is just a typical day on some of the biggest cruise ships sailing the seas.

For cruise ship chefs, jobs fuelled by passion are the only way to see through contracts that stretch months long. Thousands of guests go through tons of food every day, and the mantra for any top-of-the-line hospitality venture is to make sure that no one goes hungry and that the products are of excellent quality.

So how do they do it? Everything depends on prep work. For a galley operation this size, a specific hierarchy is involved that ensures each chef knows his or her job and that tasks are divided. Volumes are such that many chefs will be handling the same or similar jobs at their hierarchical level.

Cruise ships load a week’s worth of supplies and produce that caters to all the dining areas. This means much of the food is made on board, which helps keep dishes fresh and tasting great.

In some cases, cruise ship chefs work in what can be looked at as a commissary kitchen where the main preparation happens. Here, fish and other meats are thawed and marinated, vegetables, fruits and produce are cleaned and cut, marinades and sauces are made according to international food regulations.

Depending on what level of the hierarchy you are at, you could spend the entire day shucking corn, pin boning fish fillets, chopping onions or cleaning pineapples. Cruise ship chefs jobs at this level also involve making marinades, sauces and soups, including pesto and marinara for pastas, French onion soup, chimichurri or aioli or béarnaise for steak.

You get juggled around in the schedule so it’s not likely that you will spend all of the 6-8 months of your contract doing the same thing. As a chef, this allows you to form proper technique and hone your skills so that at the end of your contract, you could potentially do all of these tasks blindfolded.

These are great skills to have for career growth and can prove vital for your climb up the hierarchy, whether on board a cruise ship or a shore job in a restaurant, hotel or club.

Having food prepared at this stage, enables the cruise ship galley for each restaurant or for chefs higher up in the hierarchy to make dishes quicker. Produce needs to be prepped many different ways for different dishes.

For example, a soup might need puréed carrots while an Asian stir-fry may need it julienned. This means at some point along the chain, the tasks involved include washing and peeling the carrots, and then either boiling and puréeing them or slicing them thinly.

With this prep already done, all that is required is preparing the mise en place – putting together all the ingredients required for a particular dish so that chefs in the restaurants need only grab what is required and have the dish out the doors and served to customers within a shorter span of time.

Prepping thus increases efficiency of delivery and overall quality of the final product.

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Cruise Ship Chef: Where You are Headed

Cruise Ship Chef: Where You are HeadedTaking a course in cruise culinary arts is just the start of your career as a chef. It marks the beginning of a long but lucrative professional life in one of the most strenuous industries out there. Cruise ship chefs jobs are among the hardest, considering the hours put in and the physical demands.

It helps to know the goal you aim to achieve, for without an aim, it makes getting through the ranks much harder. Many of the people you will work with as a cruise ship chef may not have a background in culinary education. They would start at the very bottom of the hierarchy where qualifications and experience are not required.

These positions include dish washers or pot washers and galley stewards and cleaners. Other entry level positions within the galley include assistant storekeeper / assistant provisions master who reports to the chief storekeeper or provisions master. For these roles, a knowledge of food and beverage is required as well as accounting.

However, if you enjoy cooking and are looking at getting creative, focus instead on roles that can take you far ahead in this line. Fresh out of culinary school, it is advisable to get some experience on shore in a restaurant or hotel.

With this, you have a far better chance of getting into entry level galley positions such as baker trainee, pastry trainee, or cook trainee. It is here that most chefs either look at gaining experience in a particular sector or get a foothold in the line they are sure they want to pursue.

From a cook trainee, you can get promoted to a commis 3 or third cook where you will be in charge of the mise en place, take directions from those in higher positions with regard to food preparation and also explain ingredients and dishes when working in the buffet.

Similarly, you can work your way up to commis 2 or second cook and commis 1 or first cook, where your responsibilities get larger and you supervise those below you in the preparation of mise en place.

Following this, you will be promoted to demi chef de partie and later chef de partie, the former being an assistant role to the latter. In these roles, you will be responsible for actually cooking the meal according to the menus decided by the executive chef and other management. You will need to understand cooking in volumes and ensuring that portions as well as presentations are all consistent and standardised.

Additionally, chefs de partie need to assign responsibilities to and monitor the performances of entry-level positions to ensure that quality is maintained at all times. At this point, you will be in charge of training new recruits and also assigning their schedules and overtime if any.

From here, you will move to a more managerial position in the cruise ship chefs jobs hierarchy. As a sous chef, you will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the galley. Large cruise ships will have more than one sous chef looking after a particular cuisine or a particular restaurant. It is at this level that quality is cross-checked not just in food but also in service, storage and even finances. A certain amount of training is also imparted by the sous chef, often to chefs de partie for it to filter down the hierarchy.

The executive sous chef works with the executive chef to ensure the smooth functioning of the galley. At this level, the menus are discussed and planned, guest inputs are taken into consideration and implemented if desired, and serving arrangements are amended. The executive sous chef also works in tandem with the provisions master to ensure that the galley receives and utilises the best and freshest produce and ingredients in the most efficient way possible.

At the very top is the executive chef who is in charge of the entire galley, ensuring that the thousands of guests under his/her charge are well-fed and happy. Ultimately, the executive chef is responsible for the final order of food requirements, ensuring everything is in line with the budget, training in public health and safety, and that the food looks and tastes exactly as promised.

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