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What Defines Food Culture on a Cruise Ship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Molecular Gastronomy: Food of Tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What You’ll Cook as a Cruise Ship Chef

world cuisine on cruise ship

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

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

Comfort food

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

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

Specialty cuisine

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

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

Regional tastes

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

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

Guest requests

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

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

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

How to Survive your First Cruise Ship Contract

ship crew

Working a cruise ship chef job is quite unlike anything you’ll find on land. Living and work conditions vary with each company but in general you’ll find similar situations across the board. On your first contract, it’s easy to get stressed with unfamiliar circumstances, but you will soon discover a method to the madness.

Overpacking

Before you even leave for your port of embarkation, you’ll have to pack your bags and former cruise ship employees have the ultimate advice: pack light, but include lots of white socks and underwear. This might seem like strange advice, but once on board you will find that it makes a lot of sense. Cabins are small, particularly for those lower in the hierarchy, so storing bulky suitcases are difficult. Shelf space is also limited. Crew are required to be in uniform – typically white – while on duty so the only clothes required are for the times you are free on board and in port. The white socks and underwear come in handy for hot days in the kitchen when you need to change often. However, do carry a sweater as the air-conditioning in crew areas where you might relax after hours often gets rather cold.

Contract & information

Once you arrive, you will be given your contract and information about the ship. It is imperative to read these very carefully so you are intimately aware of all the do’s and don’ts on board, and what standards and principles will govern you during the length of your contract. The initial few days of the job for first time cruise ship staff include orientation and training in things like safety and other aspects related to the job you will do on board.

Staff Only entryAlways remember the way to your cabin when it is shown to you, as without signs, many new employees find themselves wasting valuable time searching for what is now their home. Also note which areas are meant for staff and those where only guests and officers are allowed. Most cruise ship companies take engagement with guests very seriously.

Clean crew cabin

You will be required to keep your cabin clean at all times, so it helps to create a schedule with your roommate of how this will work. Additionally, it is possible to pay a cleaner a small amount each week to clean it for you. Cabin inspections occur every month so you must also ensure you know what is in your room. You can be in severe trouble if contraband items like drugs, candles, toasters are found in your cabin, even if it belongs to your roommate.

Crew laundry

Doing laundry is usually not accounted for when planning time off on first contracts, but this is important. Often, there’s just one or two laundry rooms so it’s imperative to hold out for as long as you can, and then always stick around the room when your clothes are in the machine. Theft of clothes, or rushed crew taking your load out and replacing it with theirs, is not unheard of.

Mobile & Computer

It helps to carry your mobile phone and laptop with you, along with chargers so you can take advantage of the heavily discounted crew Wi-Fi and internet facilities on board or get in touch with your family at free Wi-Fi spots at port. Saving movies or favourite TV shows on your laptop or hard drive can come in handy during off-duty hours when your roommate might be asleep and you do not want to switch on the cabin television.

employee relation

The most important tip to surviving your first contract is your relationships with the hundreds of colleagues and supervisors you will meet and engage with every day. With so many nationalities and personality types, it is difficult to judge immediately who will be a genuine friend. It is advisable to keep your cards close to your chest and make friends at a pace you are comfortable with. Getting into arguments or heated political debates are better attempted with good friends.

Your first contract will be a breeze if you always remember to work hard, be a good person to all on board, and always put the guest first.

Also read the ultimate guide to tackling seasickness here

ACCLA Students Placed – February 2015

ACCLA Students Selected

 

Congratulations!! They have been placed on Oceania Cruises, Thomson Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruise Ships.

Our Executive Cruise Culinary Program 1st Batch students & Galley Utility 2nd & 3rd Batch Students selected on 02nd & 03rd February 2015 have been placed via the Recruitment Trip conducted by Kamaxi Overseas Consultants Goa.

The client, was extremely pleased with the quality of candidates presented for interviews from  ACCLA in the Goa office.

Congrats to the ACCLA Students! All the very best to all of you, Visitation, Manoj, Sujeet, Vishal, Sandesh, Glen, Laxmikant, Socorro, Job, Anthony, Josil, Sweat, Ancio, Josfon, Aashish, Meghashyam, Jonas, Arjun, Baptist, Vialli, Mustafa Shaikh, Stevan, Seby, Joseph, Melvin & Mustafa!

Come join our extremely successful, Executive Cruise Culinary Program or Galley Utility Operations ProgramContact us for more details.

ACCLA Students Placed – November 2014

Congratulations!! 9 ACCLA students have been placed on Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruise Ships.

4 students from our Executive Cruise Culinary Program – 1st Batch & all 5 students from Galley Utility 1st Batch were selected on 24th November 2014 via the Recruitment Trip conducted by our sister company Kamaxi Overseas Consultants Goa.

The client, was extremely pleased with the quality of candidates presented for interviews from  ACCLA in the Goa office.

Congratulations to all the ACCLA selected students! All the very best to, Conceicao Niasso, Freddy Pereira, Cashbal Rodrigues, Joseph Ignattius, Zico Dmello, Cajetano Sequeira, Rollan Fernandes, Sebastian Mascarenhas & Nereus Barbosa!

Come join our extremely successful, Executive Cruise Culinary Program or Galley Utility Operations ProgramContact us for more details.

ACCLA Students Placed – July 2014

Congratulations! They have been placed on an American Cruise Line, much before their course was completed! Our Executive Cruise Culinary Program 1st Batch students  selected on 24th July 2014. Awesome Work Boys! All the very best to all of you, Dip Thakur, Walter Godinho, Charles Fernandes, Broy Fernandes & Joffy!

Come join our extremely successful 100% assured placement, Cruise Culinary Chef 3 Month Course. Contact us for more details.

Cruise line career opportunities by Accla.

ACCLA Students Placed

Kamaxi Overseas Consultants & The American Culinary & Cruise Line Academy

After the economic meltdown that struck in 2008, the world looks at employment opportunities in a very different manner. Some organizations changed their recruitment policies and brought in stricter rules, regulations and amended their employment policies, while other organizations used it as an excuse to take bribes and make false promises. Seeking employment in the country today can be very difficult and pose a challenge because not only is the selection criteria is a bit more on the tougher side,  but also the amount of candidates applying for any given position is far more greater than the actual number of positions available. This puts a lot of pressure on the Human resources manager who has to carefully select the candidate, after screening through a maximum number of resumes to find the perfect fit to that particular organization.

At Kamaxi Overseas Consultants, we pride ourselves on the work that we do. We recruit candidates for all hospitality positions in the Middle East such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Selections for qualified candidates are strictly on a professional basis and candidates are judged in line with their qualifications and work experience. These candidates go through a round of interviews with the Human resources manager and it is only after passing these interviews that they are put through the final round of interviews with the principal employer who comes from overseas to interview and select the candidates for their organization. For all culinary positions candidates not only have a verbal interview to attend, but they have to be prepared to undergo a trade test for the requested menu to be prepared, that is judged by the Dean of the college along with his army of Chefs.

One of our principal employer is world renowned Lenotre, who have a chain of restaurants not only in Paris and Cannes in France, but also in Kuwait, Jeddah, Bangkok, Riyadh and Doha. Highly known for its authentic French cuisine and fine dining, we have regular visits from the Chefs of Lenotre who come especially to select some of our best candidates for their exclusive properties. At Kamaxi Overseas Consultants we provide a variety of candidates who are trained and qualified in fields of bakery, confectionary, and other culinary operations. Given such a big option to choose from, the Chef’s obviously have a very difficult decision to make while selecting the right candidates for their prestigious organization. We display the best of our candidates to our clients without cutting any corners or indulging in foul play or illegal activities. At the end of the day the recruitment team is amazed by the choice of candidates we provide for their selection and approval and find it highly challenging to pick out the perfect one that would be an asset to their culinary teams.

We also have selections from the Flora group of Hotels who recruit our staff for their prime properties within the United Arab Emirates. The selection’s by the Flora group is not just confined to the culinary side of operations but there are vast options within the Front Office, Housekeeping and Food & Beverage departments as well. Once our candidates have been pre-screened and approved by our recruitment team, they are then physically interviewed by our HR manager and only after an approval by the Director their resume is scanned and sent across to the recruiting company, who in turn will schedule a Skype interview with the candidate should the employer not be able to physically attend the interviews in the country. Once interviewed by the employer and if the candidate is approved for employment with the company, then we at Kamaxi Overseas Consultants will provide all information and support from receiving the employment contract to ensuring that the visa and airline ticket is processed and medicals are carried out, to making sure that the candidate is on the flight to successfully join his new company overseas.

At the end of the day we are happy and pleased that we are able to assist our candidates in their search for employment and they in turn will recommend us to their friends and family.

If you are looking for a cruise ship career, then look no further.  Join the American Culinary and Cruise Line Academy and get yourself an employment opportunity within the cruise line industry. Not only will you earn yourself a diploma but you will now have the privilege to travel and see the world for free.

The American Culinary and Cruise line Academy is the brain child of the Director, Mr. Parixit Pai Fondekar who realized that there was a vast amount of potential young candidates in the country who were very eager to join the cruise lines. Today’s cruise lines call for the best, experienced and qualified staff to be part of the cruise line team and so he created a program to educate candidates in the art of cookery so that they would be well prepared prior to them boarding that cruise ship for the first time.  Putting together all his financial resources and all his experience of culinary operations Mr. Fondekar established his very own culinary school in Margao, Goa. With a highly qualified team of engineers and chefs  he was able to set up the culinary school similar to those as found onboard the cruise ships keeping in mind every safety and security regulation and making sure it would pass United States Public Health inspections should the need arise.

The institute is made up of a Garde manger, a hot kitchen, butchery, and a stewarding area for washing and cleaning of the dishes. Besides having  state of the art equipment necessary for running a smooth operation, the galley also boasts of the most sophisticated and modernized equipment such as a walk- in freezers, a buffalo chopper, tilting pans and an alto-sham for grilling foods. For baking purposes, there are heavy duty mixers for mixing the dough and convection ovens for baking them. There is also a conveyor oven especially for the baking of pizzas, etc.

Hygiene and Sanitation also plays a very important role at the American Culinary and Cruise Line Academy. That is the reason we practice the same cleanliness as we do onboard the ships. Our students are trained in USPH policies and taught the three bucket system for washing, rinsing and sanitizing their equipment and work stations. Maintaining food temperatures and procedures to handle meats and raw foods are also practiced at the institute.

Health is given a priority at the institute and students are asked to refrain from attending classes if they are medically unwell as we would not like other students to catch the sickness too. All students are requested to get a medical check done prior to joining the culinary course in the college. This is to ensure that no student is a carrier of any sickness or disease while working in a food production unit. The college provides first aid for minor situations such as burns and cuts. After completing his culinary program and before joining the ship, the candidate has to undergo another medical so that he can be certified that he is medically fit for the company.

All rules and regulations at the college are similar to those on board the cruise line. Students need to be well groomed and points are deducted if he is inappropriately dressed or not groomed well enough. Punctuality is also very important and students are fined if they are late to class. Eating in the galley is strictly prohibited and this is in accordance to the USPH principles which is strictly maintained in the college.

However not everything is work at the American Culinary and Cruise Line Academy. The institute has a lot more celebrations too. While Diwali, Christmas, Independence day are some of the holidays that are celebrated, celebrations are also in place for the students birthdays, which includes a birthday cake and some treats made by the chefs of the college to make that student feel a bit more special. The college also has an open day where families and friends can visit the institute to witness and sample some of the dishes whipped up by the students at the institute.

At the American Culinary and Cruise Line Academy, work is our motto and we strive to be the best!