22 January 2021
Blog entry by Mia Schumacher
A Day in the Galley (aka: The Other Engine Room)
It’s 2:30 in the morning, everyone on board is sleeping…everyone? No! A small group of extremely diligent people are already up and running their daily business: the cooks and the stewards! They are the very fundamental part of all the work on a research vessel because without food, no-one would ever lift a finger. But it’s not only about eating to satisfy a hungry stomach. What the kitchen staff conjure up on our plates every single day is far more than that. Everyone on the ship can have a warm dish three times a day, one for each breakfast, lunch and dinner. If someone happens to feel hungry in between, the door to the pantry is always open where the well-stocked fridge can be found. The dishes never repeat during the whole cruise and almost everything is made by hand – even the bread rolls and buns in the morning! Even after five weeks of being at sea, there is still fresh fruit, vegetables, and even salad.
To supply 54 hungry mouths for such a long time involves good planning and preparation. Andrew Garnitz, the first cook, starts to set up an order request three weeks in advance of each cruise and it takes him about one entire week to finish this order. At the end, he has a shopping list which contains something similar to:
- 150kg butter
- 170kg flour
- 3500 eggs
- 500l juice
- 100kg onions
- 150kg potatoes
- … and so much more!
The order is submitted to SVR, a huge international company with depots in every port worldwide, who supply ships with everything that’s needed. This also includes spare machine parts like screws, nuts, antennas, filters – anything that could possibly fail and needs to be exchanged. But let’s stick to the roots – once the food order arrives at the vessel, it goes to one of the four cool storage cabins, depending on whether it needs to remain frozen or just has to be kept in a dry place. When setting sail, the stores are spilling over with supply but – surprisingly – everything is gone after the cruise! The more highly perishable food (and the ice cream!) is stored at -22° C and there it can be kept for a very long time. Veggies and fruit live in the 4° C room, along with cheese and other non-frozen food. Everything is under strict quality control but the cooks also take care to minimise unnecessary waste, using up anything with a short best-before date.
A normal day for the cook and the kitchen staff starts in the middle of the night at around 2 – 4am (depending on what is on the agenda) and ends at 6pm. It is one of the hardest jobs on the ship as there is no such as Sundays off, enjoying a nice evening after work and a lie-in the next morning, or a public holiday. On the contrary: a day like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or someone’s birthday (and it’s always someone’s birthday at least once per cruise) – the kitchen staff has even extra work. They do it with super enthusiasm which translates to the taste and the love the meals are prepared with, which they deserve first-class praise and appreciation for. In that sense, and on behalf of all cruise participants, I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to the kitchen staff for their tireless effort to provide us all with the finest meals and treats!