On board, one doesn’t need to go very far to see beauty. Everything is made to be pleasing to the eyes. So when two of a guest’s favourite things – beauty and food – combine, you know you have a winner.
Cruise ship chef jobs include more than just making delicious food to international standard. It means creating pieces of culinary art, both in the sense of beauty and of use of ingredients.
On board, cruise ship chefs work against restrictions of using ingredients within a designated time frame. Knowing how to use ingredients that may not look perfect or taste a little overdone is also an art.
Produce with short shelf lives such as fruit and vegetables needs to be used quickly. But certain items can be turned into delicious dishes such as jams, cobblers, pancakes, fritters, cakes and smoothies even when overripe. Bread that’s been overbaked turns into decorative pieces for the buffet, panko or breadcrumbs.
Culinary art has pervaded most spaces on a cruise line. Even cupcakes at the corner patisserie are dressed daintily with frosting, edible dust or perhaps a sprig of fresh herb. Plating is an important technique taught in many culinary schools today. Without a tastefully decorated plate, the power of first impression is lost.
Thanks to social media and literature both online and otherwise, cruise companies are enticing guests with images, and food plays an important part here. Cruise ship chef jobs demand an artistic eye along with discerning taste to climb the hierarchy ladder.
The first step to creating an exquisitely designed dish is to imagine what it will look like. Top chefs have even resorted to using paper cut outs of the elements of the dish to decide what it will finally look like. It’s like a painter imagining the final product, making rough sketches and then working on the masterpiece.
When assembling, it’s always safe to start at the centre of the plate and then move outward. Most dishes revolve around a main player, and based on its shape and size, you can then create beautiful patterns around it with the sides and garnishes.
Sauces, gravies and pan jus should either be spooned on last or served in a gravy boat alongside. To keep these runny ingredients from ruining your piece of art, drain the juices before placing the centrepiece of your creation on the plate. Then you can ladle them over as desired later.
Just like a painting, the visual presentation of food should be harmonious, so all the colours on your plate should blend seamlessly with the colour of the plate. Most chefs choose white plates as these provide the perfect background, but many choose black to create a sharp contrast with brightly coloured elements or other shades such as powder blue, or perhaps even serve on a wooden board. Colours are important as they change the diner’s perception of their food – yellow eggs on a yellow plate will look paler and perhaps, to the guest, less fresh.
The most important part of culinary art, just like other art, is that the dish must speak to the guest. So your overall presentation should sum up what you’re hoping for the guest to perceive from your food. Both, the edible elements and visual elements, should blend together fluidly. For example, using drops of emulsified oyster, along with edible seaweed sand and clam-flavoured sea foam as your garnish can tie in your idea of the sea, both visually and gastronomically.
To be a true culinary artist, you must think like one and approach every dish as a painter would approach a blank canvas.