Category Archives: Chef Jobs

Cruise Cuisine: Food with a Twist

Cruise Cuisine: Food with a TwistFood is one of the most important experiences on a cruise ship. Chefs must constantly serve delicious cuisine to keep guests coming back year on year. But today, it is not only comfort food, such as burgers, pizzas and ice creams that have a huge fan following on board. New age dishes, fusion food, and experimental cuisine are seeing many cruise-goers take adventurous steps in the world of food.

Cruise ship chefs want food to be an experience rather than an indulgence. Companies are hiring top chefs including famous British restaurateur Jamie Oliver and noted Japanese culinary celebrity Nobuyuki Matsuhisa to revamp menus and create an inspired experience for guests that leave a lasting impression.

Celebrity restaurateur Charlie Palmer designs menus for Seabourn cruises and brings his experience from years of tantalising tastebuds to the ship’s Aureole dining room. Guests can enjoy innovative appetisers such as citrus-marinated flukes, sautéed escalope of foie gras, eggplant relish and hummus. There could be pink-roasted rack of veal, or scallops wrapped in smoked bacon as well.

Chefs on board are equally conscious of guests’ preferences and many include vegetarian-only options, such as entrées like toasted angel hair pasta with black trumpet mushrooms and a stew of braised artichokes, with white beans, thyme-roasted tomatoes and diced saffron potatoes.

Wonderland on the Royal Caribbean cruises serves what it likes to call imaginative cuisine that includes buffalo chicken eggs, slow-cooked baby beets and liquid manzanilla olives. It also has a dish called Vanishing Noodles with chicken, duck and truffle; and another called Liquid Lobster which features bone marrow and olives.

It isn’t just the ingredients used in the dishes that makes them different, but the way they are presented and eaten. Each dish is meant to be an experience in itself, that uses all the required senses – taste, smell, sight, touch, perhaps even hearing, as one listens to the sizzle of hot dishes or the sigh of steam rise.

Let’s take the Vanishing Noodles, for example. It appears before the guest as a bowlful of delicious udon noodles ready to be eaten. But when a savoury hot chicken broth is poured gently over them, the magic takes place. The noodles dissolve, and the dish becomes almost a soup with a variety of tastes – Nueske bacon, sous vide capon, black truffles and root vegetables. The chefs created the noodles themselves from an emulsion of duck liver, cream and chicken broth, which each bring their own game to the dish.

The Wonderland restaurant also serves an edible balloon on a string. The balloon is made of taffy, and once popped in the mouth releases a breath of helium with a green apple infusion. This ticks all the boxes for innovative cuisine as it appeals to all the senses, and is fun, memorable and exciting for the guest.

Innovative cuisine blends a deep knowledge of ingredients and how to cook them with imaginative ways of presentation. This requires cruise ship chefs to have intimate knowledge of the basics so they are able to recreate these dishes as designed by their creators. Every member of staff in a galley that serves dishes like these is usually hand-picked, chosen for their skills, experience and ability to work with precision.

It goes without saying that work experience in restaurants that serve innovative cuisine, headed by celebrity chefs, goes a long way in boosting your own career profile.

How Cruise Ship Chefs deal with Dietary Restrictions

How cruise ship chefs deal with dietary restrictionsToday, cruising is becoming increasingly inclusive, with people across ages and dietary needs coming on board to have a good time. This makes cruise ship chef jobs that much more skilled as many dietary restrictions, such as allergies, can be harmful to the guest.

Voluntary restrictions include diets such as vegetarianism, lacto-ovo vegetarianism, veganism, pescetarianism and others, in which people do not eat certain food items or meats. This is mostly prompted by personal or religious philosophy and many can be quite strict about it. This means that any mistakes on the chef’s part can lead to complaints to the cruise line, so staff in the galleys must be careful.

Here is what the most popular diets include:

Vegetarianism: A diet that excludes meat, including products that result from animal slaughter, such as gelatin and rennet. Hindus, Buddhists and Jains often follow this diet, although some may be lacto-vegetarian. Jains additionally do not consume root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, etc, as well as mushrooms, fungi and yeasts. Strict Jains may not consume fermented foods either such as beer, wines and other alcohols.

Fruitarianism: A diet that consists mostly of raw fruits

Lacto-vegetarianism: A vegetarian diet that includes eggs, but excludes dairy.

Ovo-vegetarianism: A vegetarian diet that includes dairy, but excludes eggs. Many Indians follow this diet, and as such, a lot of north Indian cuisine adheres to it

Lacto-ovo vegetarianism: A vegetarian diet that includes dairy and eggs

Veganism: Vegans extend the vegetarian diet to exclude any items produced by animals, including bee honey, dairy and eggs

Pescetarianism: A diet that includes fish but not meat

Flexitarianism: A diet that is mostly vegetarian but occasionally includes meat

Halal food: Many Muslims strictly adhere to diets that consist of halal food or food allowed to be eaten under Islamic law. Those not permitted are called haraam, and include alcohol, pork, and meat from any animal not slaughtered according to Islamic ritual methods

Kosher diet: Cruise ship chefs catering for Jews on board must learn more about their Kashrut laws which requires food to be prepared a certain way for it to be considered Kosher. It prohibits alcohol, caffeinated beverages and certain shellfish.

In some diets, such as the variants of vegetarianism, chefs use substitutes, such as vegetable oil instead of butter, soy or almond milk instead of cow’s milk, or a mixture of baking powder, oil and water instead of egg.

Cruise ship chefs must also consider diets for guests with food allergies. Any food can cause an allergy, but the most common ones are cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, fish, shellfish, tree nuts like cashew or walnut, wheat and soy. Peanuts, fish, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and gluten from wheat can cause severe reactions including anaphylaxis characterised by swelling and breathing problems, which must be treated using epinephrine.

Typically, guests fill out a form ahead of the cruise, or on the first day, noting their dietary restrictions and allergies. Main dining rooms and specialty restaurants often point out the main allergens on the menu card itself, and kitchens ensure they are equipped to handle such cases. For example, dishes made for people with tree nut or peanut allergies will in no way come in contact with those containing the allergen.

Many other diets exist, such as Paleo diets, macrobiotic diets, organic food diets and Mediterranean diet. Because any hospitality venture, including cruises, are rated mainly on service, cruise ship chefs and other kitchen staff must go out of their way to ensure standards are met, particularly when the health of a guest is concerned.

Cruise ship chefs should constantly read about the various diets and allergies, what to include and what to exclude, so they are better able to help guests with specific culinary requirements.

Safety in Cruise Ship Chef Jobs

Safety in cruise ship chef jobs

While most people view the physical safety of passengers as a priority, what happens deep in the belly of the cruise ship can also gravely affect them. Cruise ship chef jobs lay as much focus on cooking as they do on safety in the galley to ensure the smooth functioning of the food service operation.

The two main kinds of safety in the galley are food safety and personal safety

Food safety

With thousands of people within such close proximity to each other, it is easy for germs to spread, even bacteria from food. Food-related illnesses such as norovirus or E.coli have spread to epidemic proportions on ships as cross-contamination occurs easily from one passenger to the next. So it is ideal to reduce risks at the source itself.

All food on board ships are required to meet certain safety standards. Your culinary institute will teach you the best practices to keep edible items fresh and germ-free. Temperatures in the galley and more importantly storage areas are vital, as ships go into port once every few days. Food must be stored at temperatures that kill, or at least discourage, the growth of germs that can cause illnesses.

Cruise ship chefs learn how to prevent cross-contamination through good cooking and hygiene practices. Consistently keeping the work space clean ensures food that’s ready to be served is safe from germs that may be on raw produce.

Safety measures also need to be taken when handling food during service, and also when cleaning and sanitising dishes, equipment, storage containers and food preparation areas.

Personal safety

Staying safe while at work allows for better efficiency. A cruise ship chef’s job requires full attention when using knives and choppers so there is less chance of serious injury. It’s also important to ensure that your hands are dry when using electrical equipment such as blenders while dangerous parts such as blades are secure before switching the device on.

On ships, chefs have a few more safety measures compared to their land-based counterparts. Pots should never be filled to the brim so hot liquid does not splash around. Chefs are also advised to never heat grease in an oven in case it overheats and catches fire.

It’s important for chefs to wear their uniform so they are protected from accidentally spilled hot liquids or burns. Proper footwear is also important to keep feet and toes safe from hot gravies or heavy vessels. Any spills are cleaned up immediately to avoid people slipping and falling.

Cruise ships add an additional layer of safety by avoiding any open flames in the galley. All stoves, ovens and even grills are electric as fire is one of the biggest hazards on board. In addition, fire extinguishers are within easy reach in all galleys and food preparation areas, and all staff are trained how to use them.

There are many measures that cruise companies insist on regarding safety on board, particularly in the galleys. Staffs receive regular training to keep them up-to-date with new regulations and also to refresh their memory when joining on new contracts. This ensures fewer injuries and better work efficiency.

Art and Food Combine for Cruise Ship Chefs

Art and Food Combine for Cruise Ship Chefs

On board, one doesn’t need to go very far to see beauty. Everything is made to be pleasing to the eyes. So when two of a guest’s favourite things – beauty and food – combine, you know you have a winner.

Cruise ship chef jobs include more than just making delicious food to international standard. It means creating pieces of culinary art, both in the sense of beauty and of use of ingredients.

On board, cruise ship chefs work against restrictions of using ingredients within a designated time frame. Knowing how to use ingredients that may not look perfect or taste a little overdone is also an art.

Produce with short shelf lives such as fruit and vegetables needs to be used quickly. But certain items can be turned into delicious dishes such as jams, cobblers, pancakes, fritters, cakes and smoothies even when overripe. Bread that’s been overbaked turns into decorative pieces for the buffet, panko or breadcrumbs.

Culinary art has pervaded most spaces on a cruise line. Even cupcakes at the corner patisserie are dressed daintily with frosting, edible dust or perhaps a sprig of fresh herb. Plating is an important technique taught in many culinary schools today. Without a tastefully decorated plate, the power of first impression is lost.

Thanks to social media and literature both online and otherwise, cruise companies are enticing guests with images, and food plays an important part here. Cruise ship chef jobs demand an artistic eye along with discerning taste to climb the hierarchy ladder.

The first step to creating an exquisitely designed dish is to imagine what it will look like. Top chefs have even resorted to using paper cut outs of the elements of the dish to decide what it will finally look like. It’s like a painter imagining the final product, making rough sketches and then working on the masterpiece.

When assembling, it’s always safe to start at the centre of the plate and then move outward. Most dishes revolve around a main player, and based on its shape and size, you can then create beautiful patterns around it with the sides and garnishes.

Sauces, gravies and pan jus should either be spooned on last or served in a gravy boat alongside. To keep these runny ingredients from ruining your piece of art, drain the juices before placing the centrepiece of your creation on the plate. Then you can ladle them over as desired later.

Just like a painting, the visual presentation of food should be harmonious, so all the colours on your plate should blend seamlessly with the colour of the plate. Most chefs choose white plates as these provide the perfect background, but many choose black to create a sharp contrast with brightly coloured elements or other shades such as powder blue, or perhaps even serve on a wooden board. Colours are important as they change the diner’s perception of their food – yellow eggs on a yellow plate will look paler and perhaps, to the guest, less fresh.

The most important part of culinary art, just like other art, is that the dish must speak to the guest. So your overall presentation should sum up what you’re hoping for the guest to perceive from your food. Both, the edible elements and visual elements, should blend together fluidly. For example, using drops of emulsified oyster, along with edible seaweed sand and clam-flavoured sea foam as your garnish can tie in your idea of the sea, both visually and gastronomically.

To be a true culinary artist, you must think like one and approach every dish as a painter would approach a blank canvas.

Cruise Ship Jobs: Pros and Cons

Cruise ship jobs: Pros and cons

Every job has aspects of it that you absolutely love and others that don’t appeal to you all that much. It’s the same case with cruise ship jobs, but compared to land-based employment, working at sea is quite different. Let’s look at a few advantages and disadvantages of cruise ship jobs.

PROS

savings

Savings

This is the single biggest advantage of working a cruise ship job, particularly for staff originating from developing countries. Cruise crew are mostly paid in dollars, and with excellent exchange rates, earnings are much higher compared to land-based jobs of the same position.

Additionally, almost all essentials are paid for on board, so you spend next to nothing getting by. You get free accommodation, food and medical insurance, low-cost laundry, communication, medicines, and even entertainment. Everything you earn can go straight to savings.

For someone starting out and looking to put together a chunk of money for something big, like a house, expensive medical treatment for a family member or even an advanced college degree, a cruise ship job is ideal.

Travel

Travel

Being moving hotels, cruise ships naturally call in at the most picturesque ports in the world. On one’s own steam, it would be difficult even imagining a holiday at places like St Maarten, the fjords of Norway or even the Arctic circle. But as part of the crew, you’ll have no choice but to travel to some of the most coveted holiday destinations in the world.

Many cruise ships have a dedicated crew manager who ensures that those off duty get a chance to tour the ports or call, often at a lesser fee than the tours for guests. Cruise ship jobs ensure your passport pages are filled with stamps that make your friends jealous.

Friendship

Friendship

People from around the world sign up for cruise ship jobs. So it’s only natural that you will meet and work with people of different nationalities. Working on a cruise ship offers opportunity to learn cultures and even languages of new friends from everywhere, from Scandinavia to Asia, Africa to Australasia, the Americas to the Middle East. It serves as an excellent way to widen perspectives and enrich lives.

CONS

Long Hours

Long hours

The service and hospitality industry is notorious for its long hours. Given the high standards and volume of guests on board a cruise line, 10-12 hour shifts are not uncommon. While the Maritime Labour Convention ensures a required amount of rest for all employees, there is no uncertainty about cruise ship jobs being long, hard work.

While on board, staff work seven days a week for the length of their contract, which ranges between four months for higher positions and up to eight months. This means not a single day of leave, unless you are ill, for the entire duration of your contract. Instead, you receive around four months off – unpaid – between contracts.

cabin quarters

Cabin quarters

Space is limited on board, and passengers obviously get preference. Crew must learn to live with at least one other person in a restricted space. The cabins are kitted with amenities, but they’re often just enough to get by. You’ll mostly find bunk or twin beds, small cupboards, a desk, small safe for valuables, telephone, DVD player and perhaps a mini fridge. It is certainly not spacious and will probably not compare to your room at home.

Cabins for crew are also below sea level, so there will be no view to look out at. There will probably be no porthole – or window – at all, which can be a problem for people with claustrophobia.

Family

Family

Due to their nature of being away at sea for months at a time, cruise ship jobs can affect family life. Depending on contracts, you are typically unsure of being at home for important occasions, events and festivals celebrated with family. Working parents may miss out on their children growing up, and youngsters may feel like they cannot spend enough time with ageing parents.

Wi-Fi connectivity on board has made this easier, but many suffer homesickness at least in the first few weeks of their cruise ship jobs, until they learn to adjust.

Food of the Future – The Future of Culinary Education

Food of the Future - The Future of Culinary Education

At the current rate of growth, the cruise industry is expected to continue profiting well into the future. It is therefore no rocket science to assume that the demand for services, particularly cruise ship chefs who feed the thousands of passengers on board each year, will thrive alongside.

Still, novelty continues to attract patrons and the more innovative the service, the higher the expected returns. Cruise culinary education is part of this preparation for the future, empowering new chefs with thought processes that will stand them in good stead for the years to come.

As with other spheres of life, technology has also entered the kitchen, not restricting itself to equipment for the cook, but also extending itself to the guest. Already, wait staff on the Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Of The Seas are robotic. Even the bartenders at the cruise liner’s Bionic Bar are mechanical. This means that cruise ship crew must be in a position to offer something more than a computer program that guides these robots.

Cruise culinary institutes can no longer be content with teaching students basic recipes and standard cocktails. While the foundation of cruise cooking must remain strong, education must also include ideation, creation and out-of-the-box thinking. So in a space where robotic bartenders or chefs make standard drinks, flesh-and-blood bar and kitchen staff can offer innovative, personalised dishes or cocktails while adding a human touch. Performance is still expected to win, so flair bartending, teppanyaki and open kitchens can continue to astound guests.

Technology is not all bad, however. New apps allow cruise management to understand performance to increase efficiency, or even allergens that affect guests. Tablets can help guests understand menus in their own time, particularly the history and construction of complex dishes or offer interactive, educational material about wine varietals.

All of this does not mean that technology will completely replace humans on board. Management is looking at an ideal balance between efficiency and a personal connection with the guests.

The food of the future on board will also follow land-based trends of putting a focus on local, sustainable cuisine. While global tastes will continue to prevail to offer guests as diverse a menu as possible, local ingredients available at ports of call are being used to add interesting twists to known flavours as well as improve efficiency and costs.

To feed this interest, culinary cruise institutes will need to broaden students’ perspectives of using local cuisines in innovative ways. It is obviously not be possible to touch on everything, given the wide distinction in cuisine styles over just a few kilometres, but the key is to whet curiosity for travel to very localised areas, research in dying recipes and subsequently innovation to reinvent the old for the new.

To equip students for the future, culinary cruise educators must focus on mixing technology with personalised service, innovation, and ‘glocal’ cuisine – global with a touch of the local. After all, the world is just one big village.

Why uniforms are important for Cruise Ship Chefs

Chefs Uniforms

On board a cruise ship, chefs are most easily distinguished by their uniforms. Chef’s whites, as they are called, are one of the most recognised uniforms around the world. It sets them apart in the world of hospitality and lends a unique air of professionalism and respect to the wearer.

The first modern uniforms for chefs appeared somewhere in the 19th century, introduced by top chef of the time Marie-Antoine Carême. Toques, or chefs’ hats, were already being used with rumors suggesting that they became a trend after King Henry VIII beheaded his chef after he found hair in his soup.

Carême’s design for his chef’s uniform has not changed much over the years as the style served a more practical rather than fashionable purpose. He chose the colour white as it signified cleanliness, and on board a ship with space constraints, keeping uniforms impeccable is the mark of a good chef.

The main purpose of a chef’s jacket is to keep its wearer safe in a hot kitchen. The material is usually high quality, with cotton of double thickness and often fire resistant. On board a cruise ship, open flames are prohibited for safety reasons but that does not mean the uniform loses its purpose.

During service, it’s a rush to get food to patrons as quickly as possible and a small nudge could result in hot liquids spilling out of vessels. The thick uniform saves the chef from being scalded by boiling liquids and oils, and also from hot steam when a pot lid is suddenly lifted. It also offers a degree of safety against sharp tools like knives and peelers that could cause a health hazard should blood be spilled.

The jacket is also a nifty item when a chef happens to stain it. In a kitchen, it’s difficult to keep one’s uniform spotless all the time, but it could occur that a chef might need to meet a guest. Appearance is important, so with a traditional double-breasted jacket, the chef can quickly cover up in the event of a spill.

The jacket has two rows of buttons in front, so if the chef needs to leave the kitchen, all that needs to be done is to switch so that the clean layer is in front, and button up again.

Classical chef’s whites also consist of a white neck-tie or neckerchief that was originally meant to soak up sweat or wipe one’s face or forehead. Today, it’s often a fashion statement that completes the chef look.

In addition, chefs wear a white knee-length apron and a dish cloth. Trousers are mostly chequered so that stains are not easily visible, and loose-fitted for ease of movement. Shoes must be closed to protect the feet and have soles that offer sufficient grip so that the chef does not slip on spilled liquids. It’s important to wear the right shoes as chefs spend a lot of their day standing and this could cause health problems over time.

The toque is always white, unless it has been conferred on the chef by a guild for recognition of excellence, in which case it is black. Other than serving the purpose of keeping hair out of food, toques also prevent damage to hair caused by smoke and oil, as well as absorb perspiration from the forehead. Often, its height signifies the experience of the chef wearing it.

Put together, the chef’s uniform is a symbol of hard work, persistence and skill, and keeping it clean only proves his/her respect and passion for the job.

 

What Defines Food Culture on a Cruise Ship

In the old days, food on board a cruise ship was not much awaited. Lack of technology and resources made it impossible for vessels to offer food that was worth advertising. Today, cruise ship chef jobs are among the most coveted sea-faring posts. All because the food culture on board a ship has taken a turn for the better.

There is a certain drama associated with food on board a liner. Cruise ship chefs are expected to create art with every plate, and plates generally run into thousands per meal per day. With the variety of food options available on board today, guests are spoiled for choice and many are not afraid of taking advantage of the high-quality complimentary offers available.

A recent study by travel insurance company Allianz Global Assistance found that as much as 9.4 per cent of guests did not leave the ship when it called on a port thanks to the free food and drinks on board!

This purely goes to show that not only are guests enamoured by the indulgent choices available for free, but they also opt for these over newer culinary experiences they might encounter while out in port. That says a lot about the standard of food served on board cruise ships these days.

Still, there are others who want to go all out and enjoy on-board dining, sometimes paying more than US$100 for a dining experience that could involve the captain, a celebrity chef, a specialty gourmet meal or a themed dinner. At least a couple of times during most cruises, guests are expected to turn up to a formal dinner where they are served items like foie gras, escargots, lobster tails, prime steaks or ribs, game, sabayons, and Boerenjongen’s sundaes.

Thanks to the sheer volume of passengers, cruise ships stagger meal timings to ensure that everyone enjoys a memorable experience. In the main dining room, guests can choose Traditional Dining where they are assigned seats, a time slot and a table, where they will go through an entire cruise dining with the same set of people. With Flexible Dining, they can arrive as they please and will be seated at tables that have vacant seats. A large number choose the latter.

The crowds will obviously show at main meal slots and this is the busiest time for cruise ship chefs – the breakfast rush is between 7am and 9am, lunch between noon to 2pm, and dinner between 6pm and 8pm.

Another dining area that is a big draw, particularly for children and youngsters is the buffet restaurant, where casual attire is permitted. These are usually on the same deck as the pool and often see guests flock in after a tiring swim. Buffets serve a smörgåsbord of items from breakfast, lunch and dinner, and sometimes mid-morning and late afternoon snacks as well. An outdoor grill is usually open serving burgers, hot dogs and fries all day long.

Food and the culture surrounding it is changing on board and cruise ship chef jobs are at their most challenging ever. Guests are demanding more and cruise companies are delivering, bringing a certain standard to dining options on board and providing value for money fare.

Dishes are becoming so trendy that celebrity chefs are cashing in. Cruises offer kitchen tours and cooking classes for food lovers, healthy and special options for fitness enthusiasts and those with dietary restrictions, as well as comfort food that has always worked.

It’s no wonder then that most guests depart with a few added kilos around their waistlines.

Molecular Gastronomy: Food of Tomorrow

Cooking is often seen as an art, but as with all things, beneath the aesthetic surface is a science that helps it come into being. In that essence, cooking is also a science. Knowing what temperatures work best for different types of food and reactions that will take place between different ingredients can all help the chef innovate every time he or she gets to work.

Molecular gastronomy is a style of cooking that celebrates the science behind the art. Cruise ship chef jobs have typically followed set recipes, with ingredients, styles, tastes and even final outlook dependent on a pre-decided menu. But that doesn’t mean there’s no chance at all to get a taste of this innovative style of cooking.

Cruise ships these days have top chefs from around the world opening their own restaurants on board where they cook as they please and chefs in these ventures play with creative dishes every day.

Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas features Wonderland, a restaurant that plays on the fantastical with ‘noodles’ that turn into soup and liquefied ‘olives’ that explode in the mouth. There’s even a ‘garden’ of baby vegetables growing in pumpernickel ‘soil’.

Britannia has a fine dining restaurant called Epicurean which features molecular gastronomy styles that uses precision cooking, freeze drying and the use of liquid nitrogen to place focus on particular aspects of texture, taste and appearance that enhance the dining experience. There are Bloody Mary lollipops with Worcestershire sauce centres, or a prawn and oyster palette with pimento sauce in a paint tube, or mango with coconut milk disguised as a poached egg.

Crystal’s Symphony and Serenity cruise ships also dabble in molecular gastronomy where equipment such as Pacojets, immersion circulators, high emulsion blenders, dehydrators, and smoke and spray guns play a big role in the kitchens. One of the top sellers on the menu is the Délice, a cylindrical white chocolate mousse sprayed with dehydrated strawberries that have been blitzed to look like red velvet powder. In the centre, is puréed passion fruit that serves as a beautiful contrast of texture alongside a coconut macaroon crumble and baumkuchen on the outside.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the birth of ‘molecular gastronomy’ as a term did not take place in a kitchen. A physicist, Nicholas Kurti, and a chemist, Herve This, coined it in 1988 and the principles of this type of cooking have been popularised mostly by chefs like Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck, Grant Achatz of Alinea, Ferran Adrià of El Bulli and others.

Understanding and studying molecular gastronomy can help with inventing new recipes. Today’s world celebrates innovation, but is also quick to criticise. Cruise ship chefs must be open in their work to learn the basics thoroughly and then use the principles of molecular gastronomy to turn classics into new culinary experiences.

What You’ll Cook as a Cruise Ship Chef

world cuisine on cruise ship

Research suggests that the average guest gains around 7-10 pounds on a cruise. With thousands of guests per cruise, that’s a lot of food to cook to satiate the cravings of all. Cruise ship chef jobs demand a wide knowledge of culinary styles to cater to varied tastes and also offer folks on vacation a different experience from what they’re used to at home.

Generally, cruise ships have a main dining room and a buffet area that are complimentary for all passengers. But there are also a number of specialty restaurants, lounges, bars and cafes throughout the liner. The new Carnival Vista has around 29 dining spots across the ship, including two by celebrity chef Guy Fieri. Overall, the types of cuisines cruise ship chefs rustle up fall into one of the following categories:

Comfort food

Despite the many gourmet options often available on board, many guests – especially children – reach out for things they are familiar with. British guests might want bangers and mash, fish and chips, Welsh rarebits, Cornish pastries or sticky toffee pudding. The French look forward to onion soup, gratin dauphinois and croque monsieurs. US comfort food is favoured by many around the world – macaroni and cheese, apple pie, chocolate chip cookies, meat loaf, tuna casserole, fried chicken and stews. Ice cream, hamburgers, pizza, dumplings, sliders, pancakes, and others are popular as easy choices and grab-and-go meals.

All of these – including breads, pastry bases, ice creams, sauces and soups – are made from scratch on board the cruise ship, and as a chef, you could be responsible for any of these.

Specialty cuisine

Cruises offer a well-rounded experience, and while the ship is sailing, it is not uncommon for guests to go the extra mile and try out specialty cuisine to set their vacation apart from the rest. Cooking specialty cuisines often involves using rare ingredients and having a special skill set, so experience works in your favour. Gourmet ingredients used here include foie gras, caviar, stinky tofu, artisanal cheese and coffee, edible seaweed, truffles, certain types of mushrooms, and umeboshi.

The Epicurean on P&O Cruises, for example, serves a range of delicate dishes, from chicken liver parfait with wood smoke and Spanish cured ham with Manchego cheese and olives, to loin of wild boar and salt marsh rack of lamb. Many are cooked using molecular gastronomy techniques and incorporate liquid nitrogen for special textural effects.

Regional tastes

Restaurants serving cuisines from around the world find their way on board. Asian tastes – Japanese, Thai and Korean – have long been a favourite, as have Italian and Spanish dishes. Indian food is now making inroads onto cruise lines as well.

Cruise ships also cook cuisines of the ports they stop at, offering trainee chefs a welcome insight into specific regional dishes and varied experience with every contract. Princess Cruises rustles up delicious Bahamian favourites including cracked conch shells, johnnycakes, souse and guava duff. Uniworld’s south of France tour sees dishes like daube provencal, bouillabaise, and iced Montélimar nougat parfait.

Guest requests

Now and then, as more people realise cruising is fun and do-able, cruise ship kitchens receive special requests from guests. These span the range from allergies to diets and even baby food. Companies differ in their policies of what is available to guests on board, but as competition increases, they widen their offerings to be more inclusive.

There might be requests to tweak certain dishes to suit special requirements, particularly when ordering room service. Food is generally required for vegetarian, vegan, low or no fat, low or no salt, lactose intolerant, dairy free, gluten- or wheat-free, low cholesterol, diabetic, kosher and halal diets, as well as allergies to certain ingredients.

In all cases, the more of a variety of food you cook as a cruise ship chef, the better your chances of moving forward in your career.