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Recipes for Feeding the 500

allisonholiskiallisonholiski International Support CenterPosts: 52 admin
Where do you find (or how do you come up with) recipes to feed the 450 or so people onboard?


  • Great question!  During my tenure as Chief Steward I quickly realized that you can't simply 'scale up' standard recipes.  This is true for three primary reasons:

    1. The ratios (especially seasonings) get all out of whack when you do large batches

    2. Preparation of food for large batches is drastically different than for smaller scale service

    3. The Galley team typically has only about three hours to prepare and cook a meal (though some prep can be done ahead of time depending on workload)

    The second point is the more limiting factor.  Imagine, for instance, hand rolling 1000 enchiladas.  Not such a bid deal if you're making 20 of them but hugely time consuming on a mass scale.  There are a number of websites dedicated to large scale (100 servings or more) recipes.  The US & British Armies also have cook books for large scale cooking.  They are great starting points but, honestly, after you get used to the quantities and preparation requirements you get pretty good at taking a standard recipe and tweaking it for large scale preparation.  The recipes used on the Africa Mercy were created by chefs onboard in this way or based on their own experience.  

    When suggesting a meal idea, it's helpful for diners to consider if they would be able to pull off the preparation and cooking of that meal for 400+ people in roughly 3 hours.  There is a limited amount of oven and other equipment capacity in the Galley.  Generally speaking, any dinner that requires more than a couple of hours to cook is not possible because the ovens are still being used to cook lunch!  Also meals that require intricate and complex manual preparation fall prey to time and equipment constraints.  

    All of that said, ideas are always welcome.  They help the staff to think along fresh lines and can perhaps be adjusted to make a dish work, even if it's not exactly like mom makes it!  Cooking for 400+ - unless you've got an enormous staff, a massive kitchen, and plenty of time - necessitates a more industrial approach to meal preparation.  Given that, it is amazing that the Galley staff pull off the incredible meals that they do.  They really are unsung heroes.  
  • allisonholiskiallisonholiski International Support CenterPosts: 52 admin
    That's incredible, Peter. It sounds like a lot of factors are involved in meal planning! 

    Do our patients eat the same food as the crew? And if so, are there cultural or religious dietary rules or restrictions that we keep in mind when preparing meals for them? 

  • There are definitely a lot of factors involved.  The teams do an awesome job pulling it all together.

    The patients do not generally eat the same food as the crew.  Menus are prepared keeping in mind the points you mentioned: cultural, religious, and dietary restrictions.  Typically the patients will be served 'local' dishes supplemented with fruits or other dietary needs as requested by the Hospital.
  • In the Galley of the ship there are all young volunteers working with a chief cook, the food is good, they have a lot of fantasy cooking as well with the rests of the day before,

    I mention especially the fantastic apple crumble and the great choice of the sandwich bar during the weekend, the food is also very safe, I was never hungry on board!!!
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