Category Archives: Cruise Ship Jobs

Cruise Ship Chefs: Prepping for Peak Hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Art Of Cooking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How Cruise Ship Chefs Can Reduce Kitchen Wastage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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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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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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