Experiments are the root of change, of new trends that could possibly become classics. Cruise ship chefs should look at experimenting as ways to understand the ingredients they work with, and how they interact with each other.
But it’s not just a matter of putting two random ingredients on a plate and keeping your fingers crossed. Experimenting correctly involves a lot of research and trials. Here are a few ideas to help you get started
Flavour base ingredients
Often, it is a subtle change that can enhance a flavour. Think of the classic salt with chocolate to bring out the sweetness, or a dash of cinnamon in a cake. Cruise ship chefs can make similar subtle changes to dishes on board – flavouring breads, butter and yogurt with various herbs to introduce new flavour elements into a dish. Garlic butter, for example, is so 20th century. We’re looking at butter flavoured with walnut and blue cheese, Thai curry, salty anchovy, and even chocolate and orange ganache.
Think like a child
Children see wonder in everyday things. They look at the most mundane things with a new perspective. To make food interesting, it can help to think like a child. Make your food colourful and look at creative ways of presenting it. Edible ‘dirt’ is already quite popular. Combine this with edible ‘glass’ made of sugar syrup, peanut butter ‘play dough’ and non-toxic glowing ‘slime’ to create themes of gardens and fantasy worlds. This works well for cruise ship chefs around festivals such as carnivals, Thanksgiving, Halloween and independence or national day celebrations.
Make your food more visual
Experiments with food do not have to involve just taste. Life is more visual now – social media has taken over and images are everything. Illusions can come in handy when presenting food. Think of edible containers or cutlery – bread bowls for dips and soups, flavoured dough fashioned into spoons and forks. Mellower Cafe in Singapore serves a cotton candy coffee that offers guests an unusual way of drinking coffee with a cotton candy ‘cloud’ that melts into your cup using the heat from the coffee.
The New Yorker magazine even discussed how visuals can change the way food is tasted. A study showed how participants rated a strawberry-flavoured mousse 10 per cent sweeter when it was served in a white container over a black, and coffee tasted almost twice as strong but two-thirds as sweet when served in a white mug instead of a clear glass one.
Combine tastes and textures
Cruise ship chefs can experiment with different cuisines that have similar components. Perhaps Mexican and Indian, or north African and European food. There may be interesting matches to be made in flavour fusions here. But chefs can also take a classic dish and switch up textures to be innovative. Perhaps rice crackers with a chutney that reminds you of curry – the flavours are familiar to the Goan palate, but the textures surprise. Deconstructed pies can also be served innovatively. Use local flavours to switch things up – ube or purple yam from the Philippines, Durian in Indonesia, dragon fruit in Mexico, feijoa in Brazil, salsify from Europe, oca from New Zealand, etc. This will help you experiment with interesting flavour combinations and also use ingredients grown in the ports you visit.
When one thinks of cruise ship jobs, the immediate association is with long working hours, chaos and months away from family. Back in the day, these conditions were considered more appropriate for men. But today, times have changed and women have just as many opportunities to avail in the cruise industry.
According to Condé Nast Traveller, around 18-20 per cent of the cruise workforce is made up of women. Statistics vary depending on cruise lines but figures show that between five and 22 per cent of officers are women. When compared with just five per cent in the global airline pilot industry, this looks promising.
Back in 2007 – more than a decade ago, a woman took control of a cruise ship as its captain for the first time ever. Since Karin Stahr-Janson’s ascension to the top of Royal Caribbean’s Monarch Of The Seas, many other cruise ship companies including Cunard, P&O Cruises, Sea Cloud Cruises, Aida, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Seven Seas have employed women as captains.
Cruise ship jobs are open to women of all nationalities. It appears, however, that for the moment, women from developing countries typically land offshore cruise ship jobs in the lower rungs before getting the chance to slowly climb up the ladder.
Data is scarce, but this could be due to a combination of various factors including necessary qualifications and experience along with a general attitude stemming from a male-dominated industry.
But opportunities exist. For young women new to the industry looking for cruise ship jobs, some of the more easily available sectors include food and beverage, reservations and front office, and spas. In these sectors, typically available positions include cruise ships chefs jobs in different hierarchies – from line cook to chef de partie, waiters, maitresse d’s, hostesses, bartenders, receptionists, provisions assistants and managers.
Good work and excellent track records in the food and beverage sector can get one placed as private butlers or head chefs of various restaurants, and supervisors in the housekeeping sector. In spas, cruise ship chefs look for beauty therapists, hair stylists, manicurists, massage therapists, spa attendants and even fitness instructors.
Based on experience, there may be a chance for women from developing countries to work in youth services – baby-sitting, caring for toddlers and working with young children and teenagers to keep them safe and busy while their parents relax.
Cruise ship jobs are also available on a side of the industry one rarely thinks about. Increasingly, women are applying for jobs on deck and as engineers to help physically take the cruise ship from one port to the next.
These are important jobs and come with the many perks of being an officer on board. For these cruise ship jobs, one will need an educational background in navigation or marine engineering and perhaps some experience working on board. Like the merchant navy, some opt to join as cadets and work their way up.
The price may still be heavy for women from developing Asian countries lower in the hierarchy – long contracts, limited access to birth control options, and sexual harassment, but like other industries, many brave these by taking appropriate measures and manage to enjoy a successful life at sea.