Category Archives: Cruise Life

Being a Successful Chef in the 21st Century

Being a Successful Chef in the 21st CenturyThe tried and tested recipe for being a successful chef has been to cook exceedingly well and manage staff and venture efficiently. However, as hospitality becomes an increasingly competitive market and high-profile career choice, this path could be insufficient.

Being a successful chef does not only mean that your customers love your food and your staff love you. It means building a brand around yourself by managing, analysing, learning, planning, of course cooking your best food, and finally marketing it effectively.

Well-known restaurants are successes only on the back of the chef and his/her team. A great name can fall if the team does not deliver. So even as you begin your career, it is important to dream about success, because without targets, the finish line is almost unachievable.

The first step to becoming a successful chef is to get a good education. Choose an institute like the American College of Culinary & Language Arts that offers skill-based training and hands-on experience to give you a solid foundation in the basics.

Equally vital is throwing yourself out into the field with internships, stages or pro bono work if needed to understand the real pressures and challenges of a working business. Travel helps immensely, and cruise ship chef jobs are one of the ways in which you can combine travel and experience.

At this point, it is important to envision your brand, particularly if you aim to go solo or manage a restaurant on your own someday. The 21st century is all about the internet and social media, so building a name for yourself or creating a following online helps incredibly, even before you start out.

One example is Fabio Viviani who learned how to use social media before he joined the TV series Top Chef, and created an image of himself online – LinkedIn and Twitter which were big then. While on the show, he used his good looks and exotic accent to his advantage along with his excellent skills as a chef to become a fan favourite.

Even though he didn’t win the show, he catapulted himself into the industry by using this leverage and 10 years later is still one of the names most well remembered by fans of the series. Additionally, he has guest appeared on other shows, released his own online cooking show and has authored several cookbooks. Today, he’s a culinary personality.

You may not need to be Fabio Viviani, but a successful chef can use social media to create a buzz about his/her restaurant or venture and keep the interest alive. It makes business sense to learn how to cultivate a good online presence even before you start a restaurant of your own.

Once you head a restaurant or open your own, focus inward as well. The key to becoming a successful chef is to lead and manage well. You must know how to direct people to accomplishing tasks but also make them feel like they’re part of a team that aims to exceed expectations.

Understand what pushes sales – which dishes are popular and why, the labour and financial costs behind each item on your menu, yields from various products used in the kitchen (such as various cuts of meat or variety of rice), etc. Take interest in seasonal traffic if any, costing strategies and changing food trends and styles. What are customers interested in?

At the same time, focus on staff. Listen to their issues and suggestions. Many might have valuable insight into various parts of the process – from service, to new dishes, to effective management. They will also feel valued.

Listen also to your guests and other companies that are successful at what they do. They may not be in the same business as you are, but a successful chef can learn strategies from anyone.

Finally, keep learning and keep your staff learning too. Widen your skills and those of the staff as well. The more you know, the easier it is to plan for the future and stay one step ahead of competitors and perhaps even trends. Try to learn something new every day, no matter how small.

The most successful chefs know the traditions of food and truly appreciate them, but they are not afraid to bend the rules to keep succeeding. The best chefs are those who can foresee what customers will want in the future. Aspire to this.

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5 Common Continental Dishes and Their Accompaniments

5 Common Continental Dishes and Their AccompanimentsContinental food typically spans the gamut of European fare, but has come to include many similar cuisines as well, including American, Kiwi, Australian. They are marked by relatively milder spice and flavour content compared to Asian cuisine.

As numbers of travellers increase, cruise ship chefs must have a strong basis in this cuisine, given that it is a food of choice for many passengers. Cooking styles revolve around baking, stewing, grilling, and roasting, rather than frying or steaming common in Oriental cuisines.

Here are a few of the most popular Continental dishes with their accompaniments.

Osso buco

Osso Buco

Osso buco

This Milanese speciality literally translates to ‘bone with a hole’, a reference to the piece of marrow in the cross-cut veal shanks. The meat is prized for its tenderness and is braised with vegetables, white wine and broth. It is often garnished with gremolata, a mix of chopped garlic, parsley, anchovy and lemon zest.

Osso buco is generally accompanied by Milan’s special risotto that gets a unique flavour and colour from saffron. Another option for accompaniments is a creamy, boiled cornmeal polenta.

Lobster thermidor

Lobster Thermidor

Lobster thermidor

With its French origins and extensive prep requirements, lobster thermidor comes with a hefty price tag. The dish heroes the sweet meat of the crustacean combined with egg yolks and brandy or cognac which is then stuffed into a lobster shell.

Its most popular accompaniment is an oven-browned cheese crust – with Gruyère being the preferred choice – which contains powdered mustard for flavouring.

Roast chicken

Roast chicken

Roast chicken

A good roast can be a wonderfully versatile dish on a spread. Cruise ship chefs can mix and match varied accompaniments or marinades to offer guests a number of options. Most often, the chicken is roasted in its own fat or juices by using a rotisserie or grill that aids their circulation.

There are a myriad accompaniments for roast chicken – from healthy roasted herbed carrots, roasted asparagus with nuts and cheese, or spicy brussels sprouts with mint to heartier fare such as buttered cauliflower purée, roast potatoes with lemon and oregano or wheat berry and butternut squash salad. Even a simple creamy mashed potato will do.

Filet mignon

Filet mignon

Filet mignon

One of the most popular European dishes out there is the filet mignon, a beautiful medallion of the most tender part of beef tenderloin. Traditionally, the meat is seared on a hot pan for a short time on each side and then moved to a lower heat for cooking through. Most guests prefer their steak cooked rare to medium rare.

Filet mignon is usually served with buttery mashed potatoes, and assorted vegetables such as beans, asparagus, carrots, and mushrooms.

Continental breakfast

Continental breakfast

Continental breakfast

One of the most common meals you will notice in the hospitality industry, even on cruise ships, is the Continental breakfast. It is often free and is starkly different from a full English breakfast or even an American breakfast.

Continental breakfasts do not have cooked food such as eggs or pancakes. Instead they mainly consist of smaller, light bites, such as croissants, toast, muffins, various fruit and berries. You will also find accompaniments of jam, butter, cheese and coffee.

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Congratulations to our ACCLA Students on clearing their interviews.

Congratulations to all our ACCLA Students on Being selected for the Apollo Interviews held on the 29th & 30th of January 2018 and kick-starting their Cruise line Careers. And also all the best to them in their future endeavor’s.

Congratulations To All Our ACCLA Students

Congratulations To All Our ACCLA Students

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How Cruise Ship Chef Keep Food Safe To Eat

How Cruise Ship Chef Keep Food Safe To EatOne of the most important cruise ship chef job is serving hygienic food. This process begins long before the food reaches the kitchen and is then served to guests. Storage and preparation procedures are key factors that affect the quality of food on cruise lines.

STORAGE

Cruise ships place huge orders for food supplies to carry them through days at sea. Proper storage helps keep them fresh for longer and safe to eat. Cruise line companies design ships to have various storage areas for different food items – fresh vegetables, dairy, different types of meat, canned items and even beverages. Each of these storage areas has different temperature settings linked to the food being kept within.

There are various ways to check whether food is safe when the delivery arrives. Temperatures of food items, particularly frozen food, must be checked, and since most food is frozen on arrival each consignment must pass the test, or be rejected.

Certain foods are more susceptible to going bad at warmer temperatures. These foods – such as milk or other dairy products, must be 5 degrees Centigrade or below when the delivery arrives. Frozen food like meat and seafood should be frozen solid when it arrives at the cruise ship. There should be no signs – liquids, water stains or ice crystals – that the food had thawed and been refrozen.

Cruise ship chefs and food handlers must be careful to check for food that has passed its expiration date before storage and before preparation as well. Those that have are rejected immediately.

During storage, food must be labeled correctly. Ready-to-eat food such as potato salad or hummus is clearly marked by these common names and also a date by which it should be used or eaten.

It’s not just edible items that need correct storage. Cruise ship galleys use chemicals and cleaning supplies to wash dishes and keep the area disinfected. These should always be stored away from food and prep areas. After use, these chemicals and even dirty liquid such as mop water must be disposed of according to instructions from the manufacturer.

Utensils and vessels that have just been cleaned must also be stored correctly so they air dry and do not get contaminated before use.

PREPARATION

One of the main ways for food to get infected by microbes and other germs is through cross-contamination. Clear cut procedures and safety measures can help avoid this situation. This is particularly important for cruise ship chefs who handle both raw and ready-to-eat food items – such as say salad leaves and cooked prawns that might go in a prawn cocktail.

For this, cruise ship chefs have separate equipment and workstations for each type of food – meats, seafood, poultry, vegetables, fruit, eggs, dairy, etc. Workstations and equipment are always cleaned thoroughly before and after they are used.

Cruise ship chefs must also be very careful that ready-to-eat food does not come in contact with raw food. For example, beef steaks that need cooking should not be anywhere near a plate of cut fresh fruit that’s about to be served.

They go so far as to not mix different items or multiple batches of the same item when soaking  produce in standing water or ice water. Almonds and sprouts, for example, should not be soaked in the same vessel. Similarly, one batch of lettuce leaves that may be kept crisp in ice water should be separated from a different one that may have been taken out from the fridge later.

Temperatures are critical during preparation. Several guidelines and manuals list out the various temperatures at which to thaw food items, and how to do it correctly.

Food that has been prepped but is not being served immediately should be returned to a cooler as soon as possible.

By following procedure, cruise ship chefs ensure that guests stay safe while eating their favourite food.

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Cruise Ship Chefs and Unusual Food

Cruise Ship Chefs and Unusual FoodComfort food is a staple on board cruise ships whereas unusual dishes are quite rare. In galleys of all floating restaurants, cruise ship chefs work to deliver a steady stream of familiar dishes, perhaps with a bit of innovation but with familiar ingredients.

However, there are times that restaurants cater to the adventurous, offering culinary experiences to guests that they might never have dreamt of trying. Exotic ingredients such as caviar are widely available, but other lesser known but equally coveted strange treats are also on offer.

Qsine on Celebrity Cruises came up with the idea of sushi popsicles, one of which included a spicy salmon roll on a popsicle stick covered in coating of crushed cheese Doritos. Another favourite snack at the restaurant is popcorn fish n chips, which are small nuggets of popcorn, potato and batter-fried fish served in a movie-style popcorn bag.

These aren’t as unusual as some of the other treats available. One of the few meat-free unusual options on board is tempeh. Cruise ship chefs on vessels like P&O cruises learn how to make dishes using seitan and tempeh. Originating from Japan, both these dishes are a stand-in protein source for vegetarians and vegans.

Tempeh appears like a cake made of seeds. These are in fact soya beans that have been fermented using fungus spores. The process causes them to bind together into a cake form that is then eaten as is or used in soups, salads, sandwiches and stews. Thanks to its nutty, meaty and mushroom-like flavour, it can even be used as a substitute for meat in tacos and other dishes.

Seitan is often known as wheat meat, made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch granules are removed. It turns into a sticky, elastic-like mass of insoluble gluten which is cooked before being eaten. This versatile food item is eaten baked, fried, or steamed, or used as a substitute for meat for its close textural resemblance.

A popular but unusual food that finds its place on cruise ship menus around the world is escargots. It is not difficult to find especially at the dining room on the Royal Caribbean, where the cruise ship chefs serve a delicious escargots bourguignonne – tender snails slathered with garlic-herb butter.

In the reptile category is the much-loved and sought-after frogs legs. Carnival’s range of cruise ships features this item on its menu. One of the ways frogs legs is served on ships is with provençale herb butter and warm garlic bread. Many vessels receive pre-cleaned legs to hasten preparation and save on space, but it helps for cruise ship chefs to know how to clean frogs from scratch.

A little less popular reptile dish is alligator. Carnival’s range of ‘Didja treats’ or ‘rare finds’ includes alligator fritters. This is served as an entrée, often using alligator tail meat that’s been marinated, breaded and fried, accompanied by spicy dipping sauces.

On cruise ships around Australia, one might find kangaroo meat on the menu, but it is more likely to find this during excursions on land as a type of novelty dish. Kangaroo meat is said to be healthier, with less fat, tending to be an option for fitness enthusiasts and adventurous foodies.

Cooking unusual meats and dishes allows cruise ship chefs to expand their repertoire and flavour range, a skill set that widens their culinary expertise.

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What Cruise Ship Chefs get up to for Christmas

What Cruise Ship Chefs get up to for ChristmasEnd-of-year holidays are some of the busiest times of the year on cruise lines the world over. Celebrations begin from Thanksgiving at the end of November and continue through to Hanukkah, and then on to Christmas and New Year.

Most people prefer spending time with families at this time, and many, instead of doing the traditional dinner at home, go on cruises. It allows families to get away from extreme weather – very hot in the southern hemisphere countries such as Australia and very cold in places like Europe, the US and Canada.

Being together means guests enjoy lots of meals and treats, for which cruise ship chefs have a big role to play. For each big holiday, certain traditional delights form part of the festivities and it is key for cruise ship chefs to know what they must look and taste like. After all, many cruise guests will look for that ‘authentic’ taste that takes them down memory lane without having to go through the trouble of making it themselves.

Thanksgiving

This is a celebration that is all about the food. Research has shown that most Americans eat more on Thanksgiving than they do on any other day of the year. The holiday is celebrated in commemoration of a meal shared by native Americans and the early European settlers to the continent, known as the Pilgrims.

A traditional Thanksgiving meal is incomplete without turkey. So cruise ship chefs must prepare beautifully glazed birds that can be carved to reveal its delicious stuffing. This is often a bread based mixture combined with sage, chopped celery, carrots and onions.

Side dishes are equally important and cranberry sauce is almost a must-have. Others include mashed potatoes, gravy and brussels sprouts. Green bean casserole is another favourite, as well as Thanksgiving’s most popular dessert of pumpkin pie with its beautiful aroma of various spices.

Hanukkah

Hanukkah is typically celebrated anytime between the end of November and the end of December. The Jewish holiday commemorates the Maccabees’ successful rebellion against Antiochus IV Epiphanes when the wicks of the sacred candelabrum in the temple burned miraculously for eight days.

Cruises during this time decorate their vessels with Hanukkah motifs including the traditional menorah or candelabrum and beautiful fresh flower arrangements in colours of blue, silver and white.

It is time for chefs to focus on kosher meals and traditional fare that is baked or fried in oil, in memory of its importance at the temple all those years ago. The most prominent delights are latkes or potato pancakes, sufganiyot or doughnuts filled with strawberry jam, matzo ball soup made from unleavened bread and chicken soup, and gefilte, an appetiser made of minced fish.

Cruise ship chefs also serve up a variety of dishes made of cheese and dairy.

Christmas & New Year

Many families make Christmas and New Year a getaway they can celebrate together. New Year cruises are some of the most expensive ones, and cruise ship chefs must pull out all the stops to ensure guests feel like they’ve had an amazing gastronomical start to the New Year.

Because both celebrations are so close together, many dishes revolve around the same theme of decadence. Dining buffets will most certainly see a roast turkey or goose with all the trimmings.

Desserts and goodies are of prime importance during this time. Gingerbread cookies are an international favourite, with many cruises offering cookie decorating workshops for children. Mince pies stuffed with dried fruits and spices make an appearance everywhere as do chocolate yule logs and traditional Christmas pudding.

Eggnog, a rich, creamy beverage sometimes spiked with brandy, rum or bourbon, is a popular drink around Christmas time. At the New Year countdown, it is customary for guests to receive a glass of Champagne to celebrate.

 

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Celebrity Chefs go big on Cruise Ships

Celebrity Chefs_ACCLAFood is central to a vacation – whether it is simple rural grub or world-famous meals that require hours of waiting for a table. Cruise ships and celebrity chefs have noticed this, closing the chasm between consumer aspirations and logistics with restaurants on board.

The trend slowly started more than a decade ago, but has caught on in a big way. Now, almost every major cruise ship has a restaurant led by a celebrity chef or features a big name on some menu or other.

If successful, restaurants by celebrity chefs on cruise ships work wonders for all involved. Celebrity chefs are able to reach out to more customers through the cruise ship’s sheer size and capacity. They are also challenged by the list of fresh ingredients available and are able to showcase their talent through mind-blowing food despite this limitation.

Cruise ships, on the other hand, are able to leverage the fame of these celebrity chefs and attract food-loving guests who might otherwise not have a chance to visit their land-based restaurants. On board, the team working in the restaurant, such as cruise ship chefs and service staff, are required to meet exacting standards. It adds an excellent boost to their work experience, and provides them with knowledge they can use at any point of life.

Celebrity chef Curtis Stone explained the idea as being able to connect with people through food. Stone, who runs a very successful land-based restaurant called Maude in Beverly Hills (USA), leads concept restaurant Share on Princess Cruises which encourages pass-the-plate meal sharing and communal eating that is rustic yet at the same time different.

Other celebrity chefs who have restaurants on board cruise ships include Angelo Auriana (Princess Cruises), Guy Fieri (Carnival Cruise Line), Jose Garces (Norwegian Cruise Line), Thomas Keller (Seabourn Cruise Line), Marco Pierre White (P&O Cruises), Arnaud Lallement and Scott Hunell (Disney Cruise Line), Nobuyuki ‘Nobu’ Matsuhisa (Crystal Cruises), Jamie Oliver (Royal Caribbean International), Jacques Pepin (Oceania Cruises) and others.

India has representation in Atul Kochhar, who creates modern Indian cuisine with a British twist on board his P&O Cruise restaurants East (Ventura) and Sindh (Azura). His light twist on the otherwise vibrantly fragrant Indian cuisine allows it to open up to many more guests and passengers, some of whom might not have tasted this cuisine ever before.

From the guest’s point of view, celebrity chefs on cruise ships are an exquisite deal, particularly for those who love good food and fine dining. The celebrity chefs have their own restaurants around the world, where meals can cost hundreds of dollars and reservations can be hard to come by. Eating at their restaurants on board offers guests the chance to indulge in their food at a fraction of the price and waiting list.

A five-course dinner at Angelo Auriana’s Sabatini, for example, will set guests back just US$25 per person, with additional pasta or entrées costing just US$10 each. Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant charges just US$15 per person. Others like Guy Fieri’s offerings at Guy’s Burger Joint are actually included in the price of the cruise ticket. This is considered an absolute steal for passengers.

Celebrity chefs must ensure consistency and quality at their onboard restaurants as their name depends on it. While they may not be available on the cruise ship 24/7, they are known to visit at least once every six weeks to ensure that the head chefs are following recipes and procedures correctly. Additionally, they may hold training sessions with the galley staff, host an interactive meal with guests or even lead a masterclass or cooking demonstration.

If done right, successful partnerships with celebrity chefs can mean profits all around.

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How do Cruise Ship Chefs create a Menu

How do Cruise Ship Chefs create a MenuOn board a cruise ship, it’s worth noting that even ‘Today’s Specials’ in the menu have probably been decided weeks earlier. Because cruise lines spend a few days out at sea and are constantly moving from port to port, cruise ship chefs must be prepared for a meal days in advance.

A lot goes into planning the menu for each day. In fact, each meal itself is a logistical behemoth. Cruise trends of emphasising quality and quantity continue, and cruise ship chefs in management must consider optimising the efficiency of production as well as prices of ingredients for it to be a cost-effective operation.

The history of each meal goes all the way back to reservations and sales, where management understands the type of clientele they are expecting each season. Studies have shown that people of different nationalities or cultural backgrounds prefer different types of food. British guests, for example, still prefer roasts dinners and puddings for dessert. Guests from continental Europe opt for more Mediterranean-style dishes that feature fresh seafood and desserts with fruit.

With an understanding of their guest list, including such details as special dietary requirements as allergens or religious restrictions of certain passengers, the cruise ship can go ahead and finalise the menu for each day.

Care is taken to ensure that sufficient variety and distinctiveness is added to cater to both, guests looking for familiar comfort food as well as those who want to try something new. Understanding changing trends is key to creating menus that are enticing yet cost-effective. One cruise reviewer on P&O cruises, for example, discovered that guests were unlikely to touch unfamiliar brands of items such as milk, jam or butter. This means that breakfast menus on that cruise must feature a market survey backed list of spreads and products.

Data has revealed that the Queen Elizabeth II at one point had 1600 items on her inventory list. Compared to this, some full-service hotels barely feature 500 items. Granted the Queen Elizabeth II is a big cruise ship, but sailing with a large number of items is not unusual in this industry.

However, despite this, reports have suggested minimum food wastage. To do this, cruise ship chefs follow a complex maze of cyclical menus. A cyclical menu is a series of menus repeated over a specific period of time – often the length of each cruise trip.

This allows them to use one inventory item for more than one dish, such as lemon curd for a meringue as well as a Swiss roll, while also using leftover food for new dishes – such as leftover roast for beef bourguignonne.

Menus are sometimes changed based on stocks or leftovers so temporary adjustments to the cyclical menu can occur to avoid wastage. However, for the most part, thanks to in-depth insight into passenger trends over the years, the menus remain as planned.

For the main dining room buffet, many items are in high demand daily, including breads, pastas, burgers, pizzas, fresh fruit selections, ice creams, etc. Their presence on the menu is almost guaranteed each day on most cruise ships.

It is interesting to note that trends are moving towards themed buffets and meals. Disney Cruise Line, for example, has recently announced the launch of a Tangled-themed restaurant with themed menus, set to open doors next year. Holland America offers a MasterChef cruise, and there are tons of culinary river cruises in Europe.

For these, drafting the menu for the day will involve even more intricate planning from research to logistics, storage, preparation and service.

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Food safety rules for Cruise Ship Crew

Food safety rules for Cruise Ship CrewApart from creativity and passion, cruise ship chefs jobs demand vigilance and a keen eye on food safety. Being attentive at every step of the food production and service process enables cruise ship companies to keep their guests safe from food related diseases and in turn secure their reputation in the market.

Companies in the US ensure that cruise ship chefs follow the HACCP system – Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point – which research has shown is a viable food safety operation system. By rigorously following the procedures, chefs on board can identify chemical, physical and biological threats at any step of the flow of food – from delivery and storage to cooking and service.
All across the board, including the galley, the HACCP system follows a seven step procedure.

  1. Analysing the hazard

Here, kitchen management and cruise ship chefs carefully observe how food is prepared, cooked and served. Notes are made about each step of the process from temperatures of food to the utensils used and the manner in which the dish is plated. It begins from analyzing the various dishes on the menu and noting which dishes are most susceptible to contamination. This effectively means that every restaurant on board a cruise ship will have its own HACCP system.

  1. Determining the points of risk

This involves observing how the food is made and noting at which points during the process risks can be prevented, removed or reduced to safe limits. These are called critical control points. They could be the minimum length of time or temperature – or critical limit – that a certain food item must be cooked for/at, or that a dirty dish must remain in cleaning solvent or hot water, or even the temperature at which a food must be defrosted at.

  1. Establishing critical limits

At this juncture, cruise ship chefs must determine the highest and lowest points for preventing or removing a hazard or reducing it to safe levels. Procedures may specify how to reach the temperature necessary for cooking a meat product safely, or how long a certain dish could remain in the holding pot.

  1. Formulating procedures for monitoring

With the fourth step, HACCP moves into the next phase of safety – controlling the hazard. This involves specifying ways in which cruise ship chefs or other staff assigned to the job can monitor whether safety measures are being consistently maintained. This can mean checking the internal temperature of each dish or even each individual steak or chicken breast.

  1. Corrective action

If the safety parameter, that is the critical limits, are not met, procedures are to be put in place to guide staff on what to do next. This could mean continuing to cook a dish until it reaches its internal temperature, or discarding a dish that is not considered safe to eat. All corrective action is logged for records.

  1. Checking the system

Through this step, cruise ship chefs are able to figure out if their safety method works. Through hazard analyses, logs, monitoring charts and other records, they are able to check where the weak points of the safety system are and implement remedial action. This remedial action will now form part of the new critical limits to be checked and logged.

  1. Keeping records

Maintaining records and logs are a very important part of the process. Cruise management are able to assess food safety conditions easily. Cruise ship chefs keep records of monitoring activities, remedial action, equipment to ensure they are in good working condition, supplier information including invoices, shelf-life, specifications, etc. This helps revise the HACCP plan often and keep it as watertight as possible.

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Challenges of Cruise Ship Chefs Jobs

Challenges of cruise ship chefs jobsThe thing about challenges is that they are generally always looked at in a negative light. However, while they present difficulties, they always represent chances to learn something new or perfect an art.

Cruise ship chefs jobs are an exercise in perfection, maintaining standards and realising logistical targets. The biggest challenge of cooking on a cruise ship is the volume. Guests on the latest vessels can number in the thousands – the largest, Symphony of the Seas, scheduled to launch in 2018 will carry as many as 5500 passengers.

Feeding each of these can be a logistical nightmare for a regular chef. Cruise vacations offer guests an opportunity to taste different food types and indulge in all sorts of treats, so many will eat more than they normally do. Chefs expect that each passenger will eat all three main meals and at least one or two snacks during the day. After all, the guests are on vacation.

Limited space is available on a cruise ship, so galleys need to be functional and efficient within that area. Cruise ship chefs jobs entail quick learning in how to manage with such restrictions – passing each other and other kitchen staff in narrow alleyways, keeping cooking and prepping areas clean always – while still getting food out the door on time.

Another challenge is the volume of food that needs to be cooked. Even with smaller numbers of about 1300-1500, a cruise ship galley will go through nearly six tonnes of fresh veggies, four tons of meat, 18,000 eggs and 1600 bottles of wine a week. Compared to a land-based job, these numbers are astronomical. On the bottom rung, line cooks might spend a great deal of their time doing just one job – making stock, cleaning vegetables or prepping chicken.

The volume also presents another obstacle. Cruise lines do not stop in port every day, so access to fresh supplies is limited. Cruise ship chefs must be able to assess how much stock they will need well in advance. If there’s a mistake and they run low, chefs will need to be able to come up with an acceptable alternative on the go.

This situation often crops up with food items like lobster tails or beef medallions, for which requests can vary every day. Cruise ship chefs have the precarious task of ordering enough to last them the week, but also not over-order in which case the food can go bad over time.

Storage becomes important. Cruise ship chefs ensure they use items that were stocked on board earlier, so they don’t pass their use-by dates. They constantly make note of their stocks, and must follow stringent rules regarding old food.

Due to the volume, stocks like meat and fish are most often frozen. These need to be defrosted correctly, often changing temperature zones over a couple days before being brought to room temperature. This gives you an idea of the type of planning that goes into making a single meal. If a couple has requested a special beef carpaccio for their anniversary on board, planning and defrosting preparations begin a few days in advance.

Cruise ship chefs must also contend with limited opportunities to display their own creativity. For those who are not in the upper echelons of hierarchy that decide the menus on board, recipes must be followed to the ‘T’. Cruise line companies prefer to maintain standards on all their vessels. For this, they provide each liner with the recipes as well as images of what the dish should look like. The executive chef will taste every dish under his or her charge every day to ensure that the taste and look matches the company vision.

In addition, cruise ship chefs have stringent safety rules to follow and are not allowed the use of gas stoves and open flame barbeques. Everything is electric, and the challenge here is to recreate that taste. Carnival Cruises went to the extent of creating a custom-made smoker that adheres to international sea safety laws for its Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que by Guy Fieri on the Magic.

There are many challenges on board for cruise ship chefs, but that is usually never a reason to say ‘no’ to a guest’s request.

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