Take Your Culinary Skills to the High Seas

When you learn more about what it's like to produce great meals aboard an ocean liner, you may decide that a sailor's life is for you.

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August 3, 2016 3 min read

The skills you learn at an accredited online culinary institute can take you many exciting places. If you’re someone who enjoys travel and beautiful scenery, you might consider a career as a chef aboard cruise ships. As Fortune reported, these ships are increasingly exciting places for food-lovers and chefs, with some lines emphasizing high-quality dishes over buffet-style dining. When you learn more about what it’s like to produce great meals aboard an ocean liner, you may decide that a sailor’s life is for you.

Finding work at sea
Culinary school training is an important part of preparing for employment aboard a cruise ship, where the staff are expected to craft a wide variety of dishes. However, you may not find a post on a ship fresh out of school. Chef Franco Lania, who has worked at Oceania Cruises and Celebrity Cruises, emphasized the importance of first gaining experience on land.

According to Lania, you should spend at least three years cooking in restaurants or hotels to hone your skills and prepare yourself for the unique challenges of the cruise ship galley. In addition, you may be required to undergo medical examination to ensure that you are of sound physical and mental health as a condition of employment.

Rather than applying directly to cruise lines for employment, you might be more successful by working through a hiring agent. However, it’s vital that you do your homework to make sure any agents you contact are legitimate and reputable. Research the company and talk to other chefs about their experiences.

Cooking on a cruise ship can be an opportunity to refine your skills in various cuisines.Cooking on a cruise ship can be an opportunity to refine your skills in various cuisines.

Life in the galley
Working in a professional kitchen is often intense and stressful. However, the pressure can be considerably higher when you’re in a ship’s galley, which is often active 24 hours a day. Eleven-hour work days are common, and you must be prepared for this job to be the center of your life for up to eight months at a time.

Like at larger hotels, the galley has two major sections. One side has chefs focused on tasks like grilling meats, cooking vegetables and preparing soup. The other is suited to those who have earned a baking and pastry arts certificate.

Speaking to Yahoo Travel, Jorg Becker, an executive chef for Oceania Cruises, pointed out that most chefs on ships are unlikely to engage in daring experiments or intriguing fusions. Rather, they strive to make excellent and consistent versions of each dish, respecting its culinary heritage. After all, they are in the kitchen to fulfill the cruise needs and vision, not their own desire for artistic expression.

Becker noted that the toughest part of the job is being away from his children.

“For the majority of the year you are separated from your family,” he said. “The usual operational challenges I can deal with — but compared to being away from loved ones for a long time, it’s minor.”

Your career in the culinary arts may take a number of exciting directions. If you want to see the world and work with an international staff while cooking professionally, a cruise ship galley could be the perfect place for you.

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