For many guests, a great experience with cruise lines is defined in great part by its food. There may be dozens of restaurants on board, but cruise ship chefs only have a restricted set of ingredients to work with. There’s no way they can nip to the store to get that special extra.
But does this mean that a standard menu floats about every day? This may have been (partly) true on the early cruise ships, but chefs on board are very innovative these days. Menus are constructed well ahead of time, and to keep it interesting, there’s something new every day.
Basics such as breads and sauces may not change around too much, but the main elements will definitely be switched up. It keeps guests eager to see what’s on the menu for the day, and also keeps chefs on their toes to serve up delicious meals that are different at every service.
The pantry available to chefs is not small, so the key lies in knowing a variety of dishes using the same ingredients. So with the same chief ingredients, you could either cook up a cider-glazed pork loin with fennel coulis or a milk-braised loin of pork with fennel and cabbage.
Bread is versatile enough to make crumbs for vegetable toppings to pan puddings. Cheese is equally helpful. If you’ve got chicken, bread and pears at your disposal, you could make an orange-glazed chicken with pears and parmesan toast or a pear bread pudding and curried chicken with pears with basically the same ingredients.
Using sweet potato, pork and oranges, you could have a custard with rum-marinated oranges and a caramelised pork with sweet potato or orange pork and broccoli stir-fry and a spiced sweet potato cake with custard sauce.
Being a cruise ship chef doesn’t mean making boring dishes. It means you can use your creativity to whip up a variety of dishes that will blow your guests away. While these decisions are generally taken by the top echelons of the cruise line, it helps to know your options and keep your creativity going all through your cruise ship career.