Food for Thought: Galley Gossip


Galley Gossip

Cruise line chefs dish about the challenges of cooking at sea.

By Lynn and Cele Seldon

When it comes to cruising, there’s one thing you can always count on: The food’s great and there’s lots of it. But how do ship chefs do it, given the unique challenges they face serving up gourmet fare for a floating city? Porthole sat down with some hard-working chefs at sea to dish about challenges of galley life.

Passenger Preferences

Medium well. Eggs over easy. Dressing on the side. Common food requests run the gamut whether on land or at sea, but some specific requirements can really put a cruise ship chef to work.

“Because we’re so well-known for our 6-star service at Crystal Cruises, we have seen it all in terms of special requests,” says Toni Neumeister, vice president of food and beverage operations at Crystal Cruises and formerly the corporate executive chef for the line.

Some of his favorites over the years have included a request for Kirkland brand water from Costco for an entire world cruise (he ordered and stored multiple pallets); lobster thermidor for every lunch and dinner of a couple’s cruise; and lamb loin that a passenger ordered every night of a trans-Pacific cruise (they had to order more for the ship upon arrival in Australia). “Of course, we were happy to accommodate every one of these requests,” adds Neumeister, adding that some of the most-requested entrées for the line include lobster, steak, the black cod at Nobu’s Silk Road, and the signature mushroom soup at Piero Selvaggio’s Prego.

Executive Chef Tomasz Kozlowski aboard SeaDream Yacht Club’s SeaDream II says that mornings often bring the most interesting special requests. When it comes to coffee, he’s heard early-risers order iced coffee with ice made only from Evian water, foam using only soy milk, cappuccino without foam, and one woman who never drank coffee on the cruise — but ordered it every morning just to smell it.

Egg orders have also brought smiles to Kozlowski and other chefs at sea, including: soft-boiled eggs using only the egg white; fried eggs over easy, but very well done; and scrambled eggs using just one-third of the yolk. Kozlowski has also heard complaints ranging from too-crispy iceberg lettuce to baby lamb chops that are too old.