It’s difficult to explain the massive culinary operation that goes on behind the scenes of a cruise ship. The MS Noordam serves 11,000 meals a day from five separate restaurants, plus room service and special events. Behind the gilted mirrors and velvet wallpaper lies a maze of smaller kitchens that spans five decks. The belly of the ship holds massive stacked containers of produce, each one some 10×10 feet. These are stacked floor to ceiling, layers removed as the ship plows through the stuff. There’s a butcher, a baker and a special cakes maker. Many of the 270 or so culinary workers come from Indonesia, with the next largest group from various Central America (think Honduras). Of the 270 culinary workers on the ship, I never saw a single woman.
So when this guest chef walks in, big hat and all, there’s almost a collective gasp. They all smile and nod furiously, “Good morning, Lady Chef…”