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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Behind-the-scenes tour of the galley kitchen on the P&O Pacific Pearl cruise ship



Exactly where and how does a ship prepare 8,600 meals every day for the passengers and crew onboard at sea? A behind-the-scenes tour of the Pacific Pearl main kitchen held all the answers.


The Chef's Table

The galley tour forms part of the recently launched Chef's Table, held in the privately enclosed Wine Room and bookable by any passenger. Up to three Chef's Table dinners for 14 passengers are available per voyage, limited due to the level of service and the custom menu served exclusively to participating guests. The Chef's Table includes pre-dinner cocktails, canapes, a seven-course degustation matched with Australian wines and a tour of the ship's main kitchen. The Chef's Table is priced at $75 per person.


Duck galantine with pickled rhubarb compote; steamed crab with shellfish soup;
lemon and basil sherbet; and ocean trout with grilled lobster, braised fennel and beurre blanc

It's easy to forget we're seated in the middle of the bustling Waterfront restaurant, with sheer curtains and soft lighting creating a sense of private oasis. The seven courses, we're relieved to discover, are small and manageable portions, with a palate-cleansing lemon and basil sherbet sorbet included as part of the seven.

We start with a duck galantine, ringed with intertwined micro leaves, plump raisins poached in jasmine tea and dabs of pickled rhubarb compote. A spinach crepe wrapped around crab mousse is next, served on a lake of aromatic Moreton Bay Bug bisque.

The seafood theme continues with grilled lobster, coral trout with butter sauce and braised fennel cooked in an orange sauce.


Roasted wagyu beef tenderloin with Bordelaise sauce, garlic potato mash, pancetta and peas

A zingy lemon and basil sherbet revives our palates before we move onto the main course of roasted wagyu beef, a soft and yielding slice of meat reclining on a wave of garlic mashed potato and a sticky splash of Bordelaise sauce, a classic made from red wine and bone marrow.


Variations of mango and cheese plate

Dessert is a trio of sweets, each using mango. We start with a light mango mousse, progress to a silky mango creme brulee topped with brown sugar toffee, and conclude with a thin plank of opera cake, filled with a surprising layer of mango butter cream.

A cheese plate to end the night has become our normal practice over the past few days of cruising, and we make short work of the King Island blue, crumbly Cheshire and wedge of herbed Kapiti cheese from New Zealand.


Escalators from the galley kitchen up the dining room

Dinner had been preceded by our tour of the galley kitchen, accessed by a private door which, I'm shamelessly excited to discover, leads to two quietly humming escalators. There's a constant flow of traffic up and down the moving stairs, as waiters ferry dishes from the kitchen to the dining room.


Making butter curls

There are 1711 passengers on board our voyage, the ship's captain had told us at our induction, attended by 711 crew. It's estimated that about 80 tonnes of food and drink will be consumed on an average Pacific Pearl cruise.


Waiters at the pass

The galley kitchen prepares food for both the a la carte Waterfront Restaurant and the Plantation buffet. There are 85 chefs on board with 30-40 chefs on shift at any time. The kitchen operates 24 hours a day. A separate kitchen -- located on a different level -- caters for the crew, with six chefs rostered from a dedicated 15-member team.

The kitchen is clearly divided into different sections. Each section is marked with a photo of the dishes prepared at that station so waiters know exactly where to pick up their orders.


Pre-plated entrees

Due to the huge volume of orders, many cold dishes and desserts are pre-plated for efficiency. The kitchen will serve about 700 guests during rush hour. Peak times for dinner are usually about 6.15pm-7pm and then 8.30pm-9.30pm depending on the entertainment scheduled for the day.


Pre-plated desserts

Although the ship will stop at ports throughout the journey, 99% of the time all produce is picked up on embarkation day (day one of the voyage). A key task of the kitchen is to minimise wastage but limiting the amount of leftover food.

Projected meal requirements have been analysed and fine-tuned over the years. Steak is easily the most popular item on the restaurant menu. French fries are another big seller, with 150-200 kilograms of potatoes served to hungry diners every day.


Dishwashers

Who has the toughest job? I say the dishwashers, particularly those on pots and pans. There are 30 dishwashers on the ship, washing 13,000 plates, 10,000 glasses and 15,000 items of cutlery every day.

Grab Your Fork travelled on the Pacific Pearl as a guest of P&O Cruises.



Related Grab Your Fork posts:
On-board the Pacific Pearl, P&O Cruises
Salt Grill by Luke Mangan on the Pacific Pearl, P&O Cruises

14 comments - Add some comment love

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/31/2011 12:26:00 am


14 Comments:

  • At 8/31/2011 2:04 am, Anonymous chopinandmysaucepan said…

    Pretty phenomenal numbers there. Makes me appreciate just how much work goes behind the scene to launch a successful voyage.

     
  • At 8/31/2011 8:14 am, Blogger Michelle Chin said…

    ooh this article is very insightful and interesting. :)

     
  • At 8/31/2011 9:11 am, Anonymous Apple @Polkadotsandchopsticks said…

    Oh my god, so many dishes! They're the real guys to be praised. It would be my worst nightmare!

     
  • At 8/31/2011 9:28 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    heh im amused at the escalators too!

     
  • At 8/31/2011 9:31 am, Anonymous Nic@diningwithastud said…

    Those poor guys haha they look like they'll be there for a while with the amount of dishes surrounding them! The food looks stunning! I always pictured cruise food as pretty stock standard and quite dated but it looks amazing!

     
  • At 8/31/2011 2:14 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I love how similar we are sometimes. Before I read the text below, I saw the photo of the escalators and was immediately planning to comment with "ZOMG! I'm so inordinately excited by the idea of escalators on ships!"

     
  • At 8/31/2011 9:52 pm, Anonymous sara - Belly Rumbles said…

    Oh Helen, loving the behind the scenes glimpses :)

     
  • At 9/01/2011 12:20 pm, Blogger Dolly said…

    wow thats a big kitchen/// mmhh.. desserts yum!!!!

     
  • At 9/01/2011 3:56 pm, Anonymous Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi said…

    It's amazing that with 1711 passengers there are 711 crew - that's just over two passengers per crew member (good service). The Chef's Table looks uber exclusive - shame if you have a sweet tooth but aren't a fan of mango though ..

     
  • At 9/01/2011 10:37 pm, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    That's some impressive eatin' on a boat!

     
  • At 9/03/2011 6:20 pm, Blogger mademoiselle délicieuse said…

    That's an enormous amount of food, and there must be masses of pre-planning involved considering they're not at liberty to restock on food when needed.

    I find the escalators cute too, just as I do with lifts inside houses =p

     
  • At 9/07/2011 11:59 am, Blogger Brenda said…

    I love these types of posts which give an insight to the order (or mayhem) behind the scenes :) PO do a standout job, it must be so hard to be this organised. Thanks for this post!

     
  • At 10/02/2011 11:50 pm, Anonymous Reid said…

    very interesting... i loved it

     
  • At 10/03/2011 12:17 pm, Anonymous Debra Waller said…

    OMG, just travelled on the Pearl's last cruise. We had the most amazing experience at the Salt Grill. Words cannot explain the explosion of flavours and the absolute enjoyment of eating this most amazing food. The rocket & blue cheese salad was absolutley to die for. My steak with red wine jus was (for the first time in my life) cooked to absolute perfection and melted in my mouth.Oh and never have I tasted mashed potato to the likes of the one we had here. It was the texture of silk, incorporated with truffle oil,and the floating island with frangelico was amazing.All this on top of the most outstanding service and willingness to please our every whim. Far outweighed any expectation I had. The head Chef even came out and chatted to us at the end of our meal. Will remember that for a long time to come & I would have to say was at the top of the list of the highlights of our cruise. Well done!!!Thanks, Deb

     

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