The Norwegian Getaway has no less than 14 galleys, one behind each restaurant, plus preparation galleys downstairs to keep Executive Chef Ricardo Pinheiro busy. Reporting to him are 235 chefs, six sous chefs, and one secretary.
Speaking with Cruise Industry News aboard a December cruise, Pinheiro added: “In addition to cooking, we have a lot of paperwork, complying with public health, safety and environmental regulations, controlling and handling waste, in addition to continuous training.”
With more than 4,000 passengers onboard, the challenge is not how many people that need to be served every night, but how many want to dine at the same time, he said.
Another challenge Pinheiro faces is keeping the crew happy for up to eight months at a stretch. “I want to keep them motivated and keep their taste buds alive.”
With crew from some 70 different countries aboard, ethnic foods are prepared for the larger national groups, like the Filipinos, Indians and Indonesians. In addition, more general European or South American dishes are served.
Also onboard were several Chinese crew being trained, including 14 in the galley, in preparation for the Norwegian Joy entering service in China.
Each cruise is planned in advance, with the executive chef and his team receiving a breakdown of the guests eight weeks out. “On the next cruise, we will have 2,124 non-U.S. guests,” he said. “And I can plan for Europeans to eat more fish than Americans, and they prefer more white wine. Latin Americans are late diners and go after more red meat and red wine. Americans tend to eat early and want more starch – more potatoes. This all affects our ordering and preparation.
“This is my engineering at the back of the house for every cruise. We order three weeks out, but since we are based in Miami, we are able to order more frequently if we run low on something, given 72 hours notice.”
Pinheiro said that Norwegian uses the same food qualities across the fleet, including sea bass from Chile, lamb from Australia and mussels from New Zealand, all available in the U.S. market so they are FDA compliant.
As for beef, he only uses certified Angus. “It has very good marbling. All we do is salt and pepper it a little and then straight on the grill. We have infrared grills that give the steaks a charred flavor.”
Pinheiro’s recommendation? “I come from a town in India where we eat fresh fish every day, and for our Ocean Blue restaurant we buy fresh fish, lobster and oysters. The quality of what we serve there is a notch above the rest of our restaurants. Of course, if you want a good steak, Cagney’s is the place to be. The Haven is also one of our top restaurants.”