Saturday, September 10, 2011

Galley Tour aboard Holland America Line's ms Zuiderdam

     A typical cruise on Holland America Line's ms Zuiderdam might carry almost 2000 passengers and 800 crew members. Preparing food to feed all of these people is an immense task, and during our recent sailing on the Zuiderdam, cruisers had the opportunity to take a short "behind the scenes" tour of the main galley, where most of the passengers' meals are prepared.

Garde Manger or Cold Kitchen, where all cold appetizers, sandwiches, cheese plates, salads and juices are prepared.

     We entered the galley through the service entrance in the Vista Dining Room at the aft of the ship. We were greeted by galley and dining room staff, who gave us a flyer with facts and details about its layout and how it functions. We were free to walk through at our own pace to observe the staff at work. Displays had been arranged at several stations to illustrate the work done there.

     The galley is tucked away behind the walls of the corridor that runs from forward to aft past the Pinnacle Bar and the Explorer's Lounge to the Vista Dining Room. It is separated into many stations, each with a particular task, such as beverages, dishwashing, soup preparation and pastry baking. All stations are made of stainless steel, with plenty of room for the 13 demi-chefs, 31 assistant cooks and three apprentice cooks to work their magic. The cooking is overseen by one executive chef, one second executive chef and three sous chefs.

Grilling chicken breasts at the meat station.

      Posted on the walls of the corridor running through the galley are photos of the various dishes that make up the Zuiderdam's daily menus, with detailed instructions on how to plate each course correctly for presentation to the dining room guests.

Photos and instructions for preparing each plate.

     The seven pastry chefs have their own station towards the front of the galley. This is where all the cookies, cakes, chocolates, petit fours and other pastries are prepared. The ship's five bakers prepare over 20 kinds of different breads, including regular bread, French bread, dinner rolls, croissants and danishes each day. However, this part of the galley operation takes place on the B deck, although a baker was demonstrating his craft at the pastry station.

The pastry station: cookie anyone?
Preparing decorative breads.

     The Pinnacle Grill specialty restaurant has its own chefs, who work in a separate galley within the main galley complex, located adjacent to the restaurant. The Pinnacle Chef is in charge of running operations there.

Pinnacle Grill Galley

Table with a view in the Pinnacle Grill

      Our tour ended as we exited the galley through the Pinnacle Grill restaurant. It took about 15-20 minutes to wander through the galley, stopping for samples or to have a closer look along the way. It gave us an interesting glimpse of the behind-the-scenes workings of what is probably the busiest part of any cruise ship.

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