Ramon De Bernard is charming, handsome, Italian and can cook. This made him an attractive draw for the small group of women that I was touring the kitchen galley on Silversea Silver Whisper with. They hung on his very word and gesture as he explained the secrets of being the Executive Chef, and being responsible for serving hundreds of passengers and crew the ship.
He apologised for the state of the kitchens, which were neat, ordered, gleaming and shiny and looked immaculate to me. He said they were still cleaning them after the buffet lunch that had been served in the galley as an unusual treat for the guests. It was hard to imagine how they were going to make this temple, where everything other than the floor seemed to be made out of stainless steel, any cleaner and more orderly.
Being invited to view behind the scenes on a ship is one of the most exciting things that can happen to me on a cruise. I am fascinated to see what goes on behind the “Crew Only” doors. There is a whole city operating behind those doors as they have to store and make all the food, generate electricity, purify water fit to drink and recycle and process all the waste. With food being such a key part of a cruise, meeting the Executive Chef and his staff is always a great treat.
As he took us around he reeled off facts and information, proudly introducing us to the Chefs quietly getting ready for the next meal. Some of the things he told us included:
- The kitchen is a 24-hour operation, with a big deep cleaning operation taking place every night.
- Food once prepared has to be used within 4 hours. If it is not it is then recycled and discharged into the ocean following maritime regulations on the process.
- Planning is key and something he has to master. He has only between 3.2% and 3.8% waste, despite the vast quantities of food produced. He has to predict within that range exactly what will be needed and consumed.
- He adjusts menus based on the passenger mix. There are around 118 different core dishes that he can make. If the passengers are mostly USA then he will serve more seafood, and if more European then he will include more meat like veal. He also will serve food appropriate to the region. He loves being in Asia as he adores eating that food himself, with South African cuisine being his other favourite.
- Safety of food is paramount. There are many guidelines and regulations he follows. For example, any fresh fish, like tuna, that is purchased will be frozen for at least 24 hours to ensure it is safe and clean, they can only bring pasturised caviar on-board, he has to use powdered yeast and not the live type and when in some regions they can only bring fruit that is already pre-peeled, cut and vacuum packed to ensure no risk of contaminating the water.
- They do not stock up a lot during the cruise, and will add supplies to the ship at main turnaround ports. Meat is flown in from the USA office to the ship to ensure they can guarantee quality. The meat comes from Texas and Nebraska and the lamb from New Zealand.
It is a complex operation, and impressive that he can so carefully predict what will be consumed with such a small margin of error as there never seems to be anything running short.
The food on-board was fantastic, as my article of photographs of the meals I ate in “Silversea Silver Whisper #foodporn” shows
Read all my articles and reports about my Silversea experience at https://www.tipsfortravellers.com/silversea
I travelled as a guest of Silversea on the Silver Whisper on a 7 night Baltics Cruise from Stockholm, visiting Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Copenhagen. Silversea are a privately owned, luxury all-inclusive, small ship cruise line with an Italian heritage that appeals to well-travelled, international guests.