I started working in the maritime industry in 2016. At the time, I was working in a restaurant in Montreal and never really thought about the possibility of working at sea.
To be a Ship’s Cook, you have to have the same skills as in a restaurant, but you must be creative so that the menu is not always the same. Because my clientele is the crew with whom I will be spending the next few months, it is important for me to satisfy everyone.
A little before the start of my contract, I begin thinking about what I would like to improve during this one. I get excited about which meals and ingredients I want to try and would like to use.
At the beginning of the season, in June/July, you must obviously reclaim your workspaces, which were used by another crew during the winter. A thorough cleaning is required! We make a list of repairs and improvements that need to be made.
For me, a typical workday starts around 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. Even if my shift doesn’t start until 8:30 a.m., I like having a few hours to eat breakfast and make a game plan for the day. It is not unusual, after a sudden inspiration, that I begin my day a little earlier to work on a more complex recipe.
Once my teeth brushed, I head to the kitchen. The room being only a few paces from my room, let’s say I don’t waste much time commuting!The workload on a ship has little to do with that of a restaurant. Since there are few distractions, the work and personal environments merge. As a chef, I’m in charge of the lunch (12:00 - 1:00 p.m.) and dinner (5:00 - 6:00 p.m.), plus managing tasks and supplies. I have a second chef with me, responsible for the breakfast (7:00 - 8:00 a.m.), snacks, and baking.
I like routine and the working as a Ship’s Cook fulfills this need. If my fellow cook has the same interests as me, we generally have a good time at work, and it shows in the quality of it.
Cooking on a ship means having the opportunity to watch the marine wildlife while setting up, being in the same kitchen in a different location every day, watching the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets. It is the feeling of improving the morale of the crew by being attentive to everyone’s preferences.
My favourite time of the day: preparing dinner. Being alone in the kitchen at that time, it suddenly seems more spacious. When the weather allows, it’s an excellent time for barbecuing. The smells of grilling food make dinner particularly inviting for the sailors working around and the officers in the wheelhouse.
The day ends, as in any good restaurant, with the cleaning of the kitchen. After a day of work, it’s the satisfaction of my colleagues and the quality of service that make me happy of the work accomplished!
When I get home, after five consecutive months, I always have great stories to tell my friends and family. I like remembering the best moments. I have the chance of working in an ever-changing environment that brings its share of daily challenges. I’m glad I embarked on this maritime adventure!