A Cook's Tour: The Ship's Galley of Infinity

Trellis Dining RoomClick for pic.
Sure, you appreciate those steaming entrees prepared to your specifications at dinner. But did you ever wonder how a cruise line can serve up quality cuisine to thousands of passengers in just a few hours every evening? The answer lies behind the scenes in the ship's galley, where the waiters disappear from the dining room between your courses. We're going to take you back there on Celebrity's Infinity.

Celebrity Cruises is renowned for its cuisine, created by the line's Master Chef, Michel Roux. Well-known in Europe, Roux's culinary accomplishments include preparing the wedding reception for Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The executive chefs on Celebrity vessels study with Roux at his Waterside Inn at Bray on the River Thames, England, so they can properly oversee the correct preparation and presentation of food on all the line's ships.

ChefAndrew CartrightClick for pic.
Sous Chef Andrew Cartright gave us a private tour of the main galley for the Trellis Dining Room on Celebrity Infinity, showing us what goes on back there to create the elegant entrees and delectable desserts enjoyed throughout our cruise.

Upon entering the galley, the most striking thing is its enormous size: It extends the entire width of the ship (105 feet). And as we have noticed in so many cruise ship galleys, cleanliness and hygiene are the top priority.

Mural in TrellisDining RoomClick for pic.
All food stations are clearly marked with photos of the various dishes, to guide the waiters as they collect their orders. Escalators connect the galley to the main dining room upstairs. Waiters carry 16 plates on each tray as they shuttle between the galley and dining room.

Celebrity's cuisine is all made from scratch, with no pre-mixed ingredients. The smell of fresh lettuce and vegetables being cut for the evening's salads was wonderful. We noticed a table of about 200 desserts receiving their finishing touches as we passed. Other chefs were using 60-gallon tureens to prepare soups with stock from meat bones. Even the ice cream served to passengers is made on board.

Chef Cartright told us the bakery has been in constant operation since Infinity first sailed in March, 2001. That gives you an idea of how much work is involved in catering to 1,950 passengers every day. (All bread products--with the exception of hamburger buns--are baked on board the ship.)

While the bakery operates 24 hours a day, manned in two 12-hour shifts, the rest of the galley gets underway at 2 a.m. each morning, with shifts running into the late evening. The staff includes 123 chefs, 12 bakers, one butcher and one fishmonger--who Chef Cartright says can cut the most perfect fillets he has seen anywhere.

The galley has special areas where chefs prepare meals for children and for passengers who require special diets, an option that makes cruising the best way to travel for those with special needs.

InfinityClick for pic.
The administrative organization is equally impressive. The chefs must be ready to prepare 14 different sets of menus for the ship's various cruising regions. The week's menus are displayed on the wall with a description of each item. Menus for the lido restaurant are posted as well, to keep the staff informed of what is being served there.

Once the line knows the number of passengers on a given cruise, its Miami headquarters staff goes into action ordering the food items required for the voyage. For the Alaska run, most supplies are picked up in Vancouver on the turnaround day, every Friday.

There are two other galleys on Infinity and sister ships Millennium and Summit, for the alternative restaurant and the Lido dining area.

The quantity of food consumed every week is staggering. On our cruise, 1,700 lobsters were delivered to the ship for Wednesday night alone. On an average fourteen-day cruise, passengers will consume:

24,236 pounds of beef 5,040 pounds of lamb 7,216 pounds of pork 4,600 pounds of veal 10,211 pounds of chicken 3,156 pounds of turkey 13,851 pounds of fish 350 pounds of crab 25,736 pounds of fresh vegetables 15,150 pounds of potatoes 20,002 pounds of fresh fruit 3,260 gallons of milk 600 gallons of ice cream 9,235 dozen eggs 120 pounds of herbs and spices 3,400 bottles of assorted wines 10,100 bottles/cans of beer

Bon Appetit!

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