Where magic happens
In the galley! When an invitation came to take a look around the galley, I couldn't refuse, for even though I've been in several of these places before it's always fascinating to meet the people who work so very hard creating the dishes we enjoy every day we are on board.
As just eight of us gathered outside the kitchen doors, Eke was waiting with a tray of tasty canapes which would have been very tempting, had I not had my camera in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other. Such is life on board! As we sipped, Sommelier Nixon gently informed us that the 470 of us on the ship manage to empty the cellar of 650 bottles of wine per night. (I make no comment!)
Chef Michael was there to welcome us into his domain and to explain how the stores are stocked and replenished in a few, particular ports but how he takes pleasure in buying fresh local food, especially fish, in the places we visit. We see these dishes on the menu each evening and have enjoyed quite a few of them, too.
We were there as the staff returned from their morning break, before the lunch service started, but there's still work for one of the three bakers. The bread on board is delicious; there's always a huge variety and it's all made from scratch here. You can imagine the aroma as that oven door was opened...mmmm.
In this corner, Chef explained the importance of food safety. We'd already seen the long service line and the hot, "cooking" area where dishes are cooked to order and here in the corner the stockpots were there on the hob ready for the preparation of the sauces. Each of the staff here has a thermometer in his (yes, the only female member of this galley staff was on holiday) pocket and temperatures are checked frequently, the blast chiller is a vital part of the process as is the cold store. Nothing is reused or reheated and anything that leaves the fridge must be consumed within a set timeframe.
And yet, as Chef proudly explained, there is very little waste. Each order is placed on a hand held device which transmits to the kitchen system for the dish to be prepared. Every order is individual to take into account food allergies and preferences, so although recipes are standard, adjustments can be made. Here in the cold preparation area, Charles was creating some delicious appetisers for the lunchtime restaurant menu. We had very much enjoyed a similar version in the form of a canape the previous evening and were glad of a chance to thank him! Oh, and yes, a few tasty morsels for us to enjoy were never far away...just in case we were feeling peckish, you know!
The thing is, even though we could never really say we feel hungry here, we just can't resist...
This kitchen is one of several on board, for each restaurant has its own galley and there's also two further galleys downstairs for the crew, because in addition to the 470 of us, there are almost 400 crew members to feed too. Chef explained that every day a wide variety of dishes are on the crew menu to cater for everyone's taste, for when people are a long way from home for extended periods of time, what could be better than being able to enjoy familiar foods and flavours?
It was now approaching noon and the kitchen was beginning to fill with staff returning from their break and begin lunchtime service. We noticed Chef Michael starting to look around and yes, it was time for us to leave him to what he does best.
No matter what time of day it is, a mealtime is never far away!