One of the perks of working cruise ship jobs is that you never work alone; there is always someone to help you out. The aim of a cruise ship kitchen is to provide the best food in hygienic conditions with stellar guest service. To ensure deadlines are met and thousands of hungry passengers are fed multiple times a day, the kitchen crew must work like a well-oiled machine, each playing his or her part to have everything moving like clockwork.
It all starts once the menus are set and supplies are ordered from vendors at the various ports the cruise liner will call at. The produce is inspected for quality and freshness and loaded onto the ship. During this stage, workers often load the produce into metal trays that can easily be cleaned and stored in refrigerators at various temperatures. This helps kitchen staff easily identify food for preparation, a key to time management during dining rush.
Dozens of workers in the kitchen engage in food preparation – cleaning, washing, chopping, dicing, and generally completing the basics before the chefs even begin cooking. This reduces the need for the chefs to spend time on these basic activities, and allows them to concentrate more on quality of taste and presentation. Records of all stores are kept up-to-date as they get used, so the inventory manager or storekeeper can order ahead of reaching the next port to stock up on supplies.
Sections differ in cruise line kitchens based on specialties. Most often the work space is divided into the ‘hot kitchen’ and the ‘cold kitchen’. In the former, vegetables, fish, meats, soups, pastas, hot side dishes and grilled food are some of the items cooked. All baking, pastry, buffets, ice carvings, salads and cold meats, etc, are taken care of in the cold kitchen. All the stocks and marinades for the hot galley and breads and ice creams for the cold galley are made in house for the restaurants, so a major slip up by one team can throw the entire ship’s culinary department off course.
Even wait staff are part of this big team. They bring in the orders and convey important messages such as food allergies or the doneness of steaks to the kitchen, and also ensure that guests in the massive dining areas are served exactly what they requested.
Cruise line kitchens are a study in time management, efficiency and team work. Working in the culinary department on board a cruise ship can sharpen your skills in these areas and boost your career.