Category Archives: The Galley

The Art Of Cooking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Breaking Down Haute Cuisine & Fusion Cuisine

Breaking Down Haute Cuisine & Fusion CuisineFood is one of the most important elements of a cruise. Today’s cruise ship chefs jobs place exacting demands for technical know how and knowledge of varying cuisines to suit almost every taste preference. Two trendy cuisine styles that are catching on in cruising today are haute cuisine and fusion cuisine.

HAUTE CUISINE

The French have always been known for their cuisine, but this fame really began in the 17th century. Before this time, France was simply learning more about food ingredients brought in from its conquests and the newly discovered Americas.

A good meal at this time was considered to be one with huge portions, with one record showing about 66 turkeys at a single dinner. Haute cuisine can be considered to have been invented with the appointment of Marie-Antoine Carême – later called the father of French cuisine – as the head chef of English King George IV. Carême was famous for his excessively rich dishes, elaborate decorative edible centrepieces, and also his books on cooking. He took his ideas from La Varenne, who was the first to make roux, and individual or single portion pastries and pies.

He set the stage for the reign of French chefs, followed by Georges Auguste Escoffier in the 19th century, who modernised haute cuisine into what it is today. Instead of the elaborate feasts of old, he worked with Carême’s decadent sauces and other culinary concepts to focus on smaller portions using high quality ingredients and precision.

Haute cuisine changed the way food was served – from bringing in all dishes at once, to service in courses. The legendary French meal consists of up to 17 courses, from hors d’oeuvres to cold cuts to cheese boards.

Haute cuisine continues to follow these practices, with one of its main contributions to the art of cooking being efficiency. Escoffier created the system of dedicated stations for various elements of a dish – soups, sauces, starches and vegetables, grills and fried items, and pastry dishes. This system is still in use today.

FUSION CUISINE

Compared to haute cuisine, fusion food is thought of as a relatively new concept. As a modern concept, it became fashionable in the 1970s but as a basic concept, it has been around for millenia. Fusion cuisine is basically marrying different styles and techniques, something that has been done with every migration since the beginning of time.

One example of this is spaghetti, which is thought to have been inspired by the exposure of Italians to Chinese noodles. In India, this is apparent with the inclusion of tomatoes and chilli into the cuisine after these ingredients were introduced by the Europeans.

Where haute cuisine is classic and follows certain techniques and recipes, fusion cuisine is more forgiving and fluid. Chefs need not follow the rules and service need not be in courses.

One of the first chefs associated with fusion cuisine is Richard Wing who combined French and Chinese cooking, and later Wolfgang Puck who cemented the idea of Eurasian cuisine.

Fusion cuisine requires a solid knowledge of a variety of techniques and ingredients, and a particular affinity for good flavour combinations. It means knowing whether elements like garlic and passionfruit could work well together.

Fusion cuisine has received some heat from chefs who dismiss it as a confusion of styles and elements. However, despite this, fusion cuisine remains popular and the simpler recipes possibly cheaper and easier to recreate at home compared to haute cuisine.

As competition gets stiffer, food companies are bringing more innovative fusion cuisine ideas to the mix. One new style that has caught on recently is the food mash-up, combining two food types into one. This has spawned creative dishes such as the Cronut – pastry chef Dominique Ansel’s croissant-donut recipe which looks like a donut but is made with croissant-style dough and is filled with cream.

Others include the ramen burger with a ‘bun’ of fried ramen noodles, fruit sushi, pastrami egg rolls, the mac n cheese pancake sandwich and tandoori chicken bruschetta.

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Show off Your Skills As a Cruise Ship Chef

 

Show off Your Skills As a Cruise Ship ChefCruise ship chefs jobs don’t always have to involve toiling away in a galley below deck, wondering about the delighted faces of guests who enjoy your food. Today’s travelling demographic often includes guests who enjoy culinary experiences – not just indulging in it, but also learning more about what they eat.

Cooking classes and demonstrations are among the popular activities guests like to engage in while on board. These include private classes or small group lessons of around five to 10 where guests can share one-on-one experiences with chefs, understand more about technique, and take away memories of great food and new recipes.

Many cruise ships offer classes with celebrity chefs, but they are not always available on board. Displaying good cheffing skills, warm yet professional behaviour and in-depth knowledge of the culinary arts can land you a cooking or demonstration class.

Azamara cruises, for example, gives cruise ship chefs a chance to teach interested guests how to make sushi or sashimi and whip up their favourite risotto. On Crystal Cruises, the excursions team schedules complementary food-themed tours in port, so guests can connect what they learn with you on board to the food they eat on land.

On Holland America, private cooking classes allow guests to understand the secrets of great pesto and making the perfect jerk chicken, even as celebrity chefs lead demos at regular intervals. Exclusive cooking classes, which are more often than not priced in the top range, are coveted by guests eager to learn specific techniques and skills used by those in celebrity chef kitchens. This would mean passing on knowledge learnt as part of the team upholding the reputation of the celebrity chef on board. It’s a big responsibility.

A variety of river cruises specializing in unique culinary experiences for guests are joining the bandwagon. Owing to their courses, often focusing on the Mediterranean region, the vessels make port often, allowing cruise ship chefs to take guests opting for their exclusive cooking classes ashore to source ingredients.

Scenic Cruises, for example, has remodeled its dining rooms on board the Scenic Diamond, Scenic Sapphire and Scenic Emerald to house new private cooking emporiums. This space boasts cooking stations, cheese and wine cellars and audio-visual screens for up to 10 guests to easily view the cooking instructions from the chef leading the class.

Similar cruises with exclusive cooking classes see cruise ship chefs head ashore with the guests to source local ingredients such as conch in the Bahamas or Bordeaux chocolate in France, head back on board and show participants how to cook with them.

In a similar vein, cruise ships are also offering classes on wines and their pairings, with in-depth knowledge to guests on everything from appropriate glassware to grape origins. The Queen Mary 2 launched its Carinthia Lounge, which has a Wine Academy – a space where the chief sommelier and the wine team lead exclusive classes on various topics, regional tastings and producer workshops.

Being a good cruise ship chef can open a mine of opportunities even on board, so you can try something different through the course of your time at sea.

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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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Unusual Types Of Cooking Methods

NUSUAL TYPES OF COOKING METHODSCruise ship chefs jobs involve the knowledge of numerous cooking methods to whip up the wide variety of dishes served on board. Thousands of meals are made to satisfy every taste, from thin crust pizzas to grilled chicken, slow-cooked roast and delicious deep-fried donuts.

Some of the common methods of cooking used by cruise ship chefs include baking, grilling, frying, roasting, stewing, boiling and pressure cooking. In addition, there are others that are slightly more uncommon in home kitchens requiring technical knowledge and / or specific equipment. Here are a few:

SHIRRING

Shirring is done mainly with eggs, typically cooked in a dish called a shirrer. However, these days, they are cooked in any glass or ceramic dish with a flat bottom. The method involves baking the eggs in butter until the albumen turns opaque but the yolk stays runny. Shirred eggs are most commonly eaten for breakfast or brunch.

COCKAIGNE

This is a method of slow cooking chicken breasts using low temperatures to heat the meat from the outside in. Oil or butter is poured into a pan so it covers the bottom evenly. Medium high heat is turned down to medium and flattened chicken breasts are cooked on one side for a minute before the heat is reduced to a simmer and the chicken flipped over to cook for about 10 minutes. During this time, the chicken is covered and cooked using the trapped heat. After this, the dish is taken off the heat, but left to sit still covered for an additional 10 minutes to finish the process.

BAIN-MARIE

A bain-marie is a water bath in an oven, using fluid in between two dishes to heat the food gradually and gently. A great variety of dishes can be cooked in a bain-marie, particularly custards and cheesecakes as this method of cooking prevents it from crusting and cracking on the top.

Bain-maries are also used to melt chocolate, thicken condensed milk for desserts and make delicate sauces such as hollandaise and beurre blanc.

SOUS VIDE

This cooking method uses accurately controlled, low temperatures to cook food over an extended period of time. The produce or meat is generally vacuum sealed in a plastic bag or glass jar and placed in a water or steam bath where temperatures vary between 55 degrees C to 60 degrees C for meat and a little higher for vegetables.

Sous vide cooking locks in the juices and aromas of the food being cooked resulting in flavourful dishes which retain moisture and are cooked evenly.

BASTING

This method is popular when cooking delicately flavoured meats, using their own juices or special marinades to retain flavour and moisture. The dish is placed on a grill, in an oven or rotisserie and cooked over a long period of time. Moisture-rich vegetables and fruit or fatty food such as bacon are sometimes added alongside to ensure that that there is constant moisture throughout the process. Basting requires care and attention as the meat can easily dry out if the method is not followed correctly

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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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Cruise Ships & Local Produce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Five Types of Wines and What to Pair with Them

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

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

RED WINE

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

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

WHITE WINE

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

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

ROSÉ

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

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

SPARKLING WINE

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

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

DESSERT WINE

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

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

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How Cruise Ship Chefs Prep to Feed Thousands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Comfort Food on Cruise Ships

Comfort Food on Cruise ShipsAs the name suggests, comfort food includes dishes that are usually very familiar to the eater and are typically characterised with high calorific values and quick preparation time.

This kind of food is most often consumed by picky eaters who would prefer not to be adventurous even on board a cruise ship boasting celebrity chef restaurants and other interesting dishes.

While it exists in every country, options for comfort food on cruise ships revolve around the main nationalities or demographic sailing on board. It makes poor sense to offer Korean passengers comfort food from Turkey, or even American guests comfort food from India.

The highest numbers of cruisers by far come from north America. According to Statista, 11.5 million US guests sailed on cruise ships in 2016, compared to 2.1 million from China, 1.9 million from the United Kingdom and half a million from Spain.

That said, most comfort food on cruise ships is very American. Cruise ship chefs must have good knowledge of how to put together top north American comfort food at the drop of a hat.

Comfort food is most likely to be demanded by small children who often see little value in trying new food. The main dining room and even specialty restaurants will have a children’s menu that features dishes like pasta or fried chicken.

At buffets, you will most certainly find a whole variety that includes burgers, pizza, pasta, sandwiches and tons of ice cream and cookies. Many cruise ship chefs need to learn how to make all of these items from scratch, including ice cream and pizza dough.

Favoured American comfort food includes grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken soup, hamburgers, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, tuna casserole, peanut butter, pizza and fried chicken. Some dishes have their origins in other popular cultures such as pizza, lasagne, tacos and nachos, but there will be variations from the original recipe adapted to American tastes.

With Chinese travelling a lot too, cruise ship companies are opening up to offer them familiar food as well. Options may be mostly available at specialty restaurants on board, but globally popular dishes could be available at main dining rooms too. These include egg tarts, meat floss buns, custard buns, a large variety of dim sums and chicken noodle soup. Egg rolls, pork chops, chicken with sticky rice and fortune cookies are well loved across the board.

British travellers also make up the numbers on cruise ships. To satisfy their cravings for comfort food, cruise ship chefs ladle out bangers and mash – or English pork sausages with mashed potato, fish and chips, bacon sandwiches, various types of toast – with cheese, baked beans or Welsh rarebit, bread and butter pudding and roast chicken. You may also find beef stew on the menu as well as chicken tikka masala and curry, which although Indian in origin have come to be adapted for British palates.

For Spanish guests, cruise ship chefs learn how to whip up flavourful recipes featuring seafood, tomatoes and potatoes. These most often include Valencian rice dish paella, garlic soup, patatas bravas which is the Spanish version of French fries, and almond cake. Another staple is tortilla española or Spanish omelette with egg and potato.

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