Monday, August 18, 2014

A Cruise Through the Galley

Summer Cruise 2014
Behind the Scenes on The Navigator of the Seas
Friday, August 8th- Sea Day #2

While Chris and I were on our 3rd cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas in August 2014, we were invited to go on a private tour of the galley by the Director of Food and Beverage, Werner Zurcher. We had dinner with the 4.5 stripe officer at a specialty restaurant when we told him that we like to blog about our cruising experiences and especially food. From that point on he labeled us as "journalists" and pretty much waited on us hand and foot. This is also when he invited us to go on this private tour of the galley with the Executive Chef.

It was Sea Day #2 on our Western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston and we had already visited the 3 ports on our itinerary and were head back to Texas. It was 11 AM and the lunch scene was about to explode in the Main Dining Room. Executive Chef Martin Scott welcomed us and another journalist to the back of the Sapphire Dining Room on Deck 3 for the beginning of the tour.

Executive Chef Martin Scott has been with Royal Caribbean since 1998 and has served 3 contracts, approximately 1.5 years, aboard The Navigator of the Seas. He has served on 12 ships and opened massive ships such as The Allure of the Seas, The Oasis of the Seas, The Freedom of the Seas and the Liberty of the Seas. He seemed to be the "Head Hauncho" inside Royal Caribbean but also acted as if the big ships were not his thing. "Let some young guy do that. It is not for me" he said! He was a fascinating man and I wish we could have been able to sit down to dinner with him as well.

During our dinner with Mr. Werner, the Director of Food and Beverage, we learned that there are 1150 crew members on board and 650 of them work in food and beverage. Executive Chef Scott told us that he has 170 waiters and 70-80 assistant waiters as well as 135 chefs total and 70 cleaners on board The Navigator of the Seas. Among these chefs are 3 executive Sous Chefs and 12 assistant Sous Chefs. He also informed us that during a typical "full capacity" cruise they fix a total of 16,000 to 19,000 meals a day! Wow... That was astonishing to me! 

Our tour started in the dish washing area of the galley. The Navigator houses a massive 50 foot dishwasher on each of the decks with a galley, including decks 3, 4, 5, and 8 for the Windjammer Buffet. These dishwashers can clean 6,000 dishes an hour (I was thinking... "Sign me up")! While cleaning dishes Royal Caribbean employs 4 crew members on the dirty side and 4 crew members on the clean side as to not cross-contaminate.

The massive dishwasher used on board. 

A different angle of the dishwasher.

We then traveled to the salad area of the galley. Here is where the main refrigerator is housed. This massive 1200 square foot fridge kept all of the necessary supplies for the day's meal. This did not include the rest of the weeks meals and supplies nor the 3 additional days worth of food and supplies that traveled on every cruise ship.

A sous chef prepares salads for lunch. 

Chefs chop all of the needed veggies for salads. 

The "yellow brick road" of the galley then took us to the pastry room. Here we saw sous chefs making cheesecakes, pies and delicious looking canolis. Executive Chef Scott informed us of the guaranteed freshness of all of the pasties on board. Each and every pastry or dessert was made that day and never frozen. Because of this the pastry chefs work around the clock on extended shifts. In addition to the hard working chefs, Royal has to carry 1 TON of flour on board to meet the demand of the guests on board.

Sous Chef preparing Key Lime squares for dessert. 

Fresh desserts being prepared for the lunch rush. 

Delicious Banana de la Creme' desserts for lunch. 

Canolis being prepared for Giovanni's Table restaurant. 
Executive Chef Scott then showed us his office area (which was even smaller than a cubicle oddly enough), his secretary and the main entree service line. He also showed us the computer system that the head waiters and assistant waiters use to place an order. This is the same system the chefs use to know how much food to make in a certain category or menu option. Chef Scott mentioned that occasionally the ending numbers do not add up and they end up with extra food that has already been prepared. This is cause for reprimand upon the waiters.

Chefs and sous chefs prepare the main entrees for the days lunch.

The collars of the chefs imply their ranking within the kitchen.
Red- leader, blue- assistant and yellow- 1st contract (newbie).

This was the exact guest information for our cruise. Nearly 1/3 of the guests chose My Time Dining (MTD). This seems to be the way Royal Caribbean is headed... All My Time Dining!

Executive Chef Martin Scott shares his passion for food with us along the way!

Another picture of chefs hard at work. 

A literal "Behind the Scenes" look at actually plating the food for meals. 

The computer screen that displays of the guests orders. 

Youth and Kid information from our cruise plus previous cruises.
This information might be helpful in trying to plan a cruise with fewer kids!

Chef Scott's office! 

Then we ventured over to where the ovens are housed in the galley. The Navigator has 14 ovens on each deck with a galley and these are priced at $100,000 each. These ovens can roast, steam and roast AND steam at the same time. They can also cook and hold the food to the correct temperature for an extended period of time. Chef Scott told us he has a weakness for these ovens and has one at his Scotland home. "My wife thinks I'm crazy" he says! I, too, think a $100,000 oven is a little absurd.

One of the large soup pots used for making soups!

We ended the tour in the vegetable and soup station of the galley. Here we met the #2 and #3 chefs on board. Each of whom where steadily busy with preparing for lunch. The Navigator of the Seas also has a 500 liter pot for making soups. Keep in mind that on any given day or night, the Main Dining Room menus may have 2-4 different soup options.

Chef Annette (#3 chef on board) preparing veggies for side dishes!

Preparing grilled tomatoes for most of the main entrees side dish. 

More tomatoes.

Popular Meals
During the embarkation evening Prime Rib is served and Executive Chef Scott and his crew will go through 80 FULL beef ribs in that night alone. On the 2nd Formal Night, when lobster is also served, they will go through approximately 60 FULL beef ribs. The saying "beef, it's whats for dinner" has never been more appropriate. Executive Chef Scott also mentioned on Formal Night most people will order the lobster and he plans for 1 lobster per guest. This meant for our cruise they prepared 3,900 lobsters on formal night. Now the fascinating part is that he can cook 1,000 lobsters in 7 minutes and then hold them at that temperature until plating time.

At the finale of this tour Chef Scott told us about the many sacrifices that the crew members make to work aboard The Navigator of Seas. Most waiters have a contract for 8-10 months and then only 6 weeks off. During these 10 months they are working 12-14 hour shifts SEVEN days a week. He mentioned that he has a few female waitresses that recently had a baby and then came back on board for the start of a new contract when the baby was only 6 weeks old or younger. Unfortunately, these mothers will not even be home for thier babies 1st birthday. A tear formed in my eye as he told us these stories as all I could think about was how much I missed my own little kids after just 5 days. I can only imagine what these mothers (and I'm sure there were fathers on board in the same situation) were feeling. It was a very humbling experience and I am so grateful we got to go on this private tour! May God bless each of them for their service!

Executive Chef Martin Scott and Director Werner Zurcher really made our cruise a special one by allowing us to go "behind the scenes" and see how a cruise ship works! This was a once in a lifetime type of opportunity and I am forever grateful! Just another "WOW" moment aboard The Navigator of the Seas

Chris and I will Executive Chef Martin Scott at the end of the tour!

God is good... All the time!

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