How to cater for an entire ship: a Q&A with chef Franck Garanger of Oceania Cruises

Franck Garanger, Oceania Cruises’ corporate executive chef, on how to cater for an entire cruise ship.Saturday, 30 November 2019

How have your experiences prepared you to work in ship kitchens?
My culinary career began in my father’s pâtisserie-boulangerie in the Loire Valley. From there I got a job as an apprentice at the Michelin-starred Le Vert d’Eau in Angers, working under Jean-François Piers. As Oceania Cruises’ corporate executive chef I’m able to draw on my wealth of experience to oversee all culinary operations aboard our intimate and luxurious ships. 

What are the unique challenges that go into providing food on a ship? 
The key to running multiple restaurants across multiple ships is planning. We plan menus months in advance to ensure the smooth running of onboard operations. After all, you can’t just pop down to the shop if you change a menu at the last minute, or run out of something while at sea! This meticulous planning sits hand-in-hand with the need to build an impeccable network of trusted suppliers, who can deliver the quality goods we demand.

What are the advantages? 
More than a quarter of all crew on board an Oceania Cruises ship is dedicated to the culinary experience. On board, we live together, work together and socialise together, which makes us a really strong team. Thanks to the nature of a cruise, compared to a land-based trip, you’re able to build relationships with customers over the course of their voyage, and the team gets to know their likes and dislikes. 

How does seasonality affect ingredients on a moving vessel?
Core dishes such as lobster and steak are always available. Our teams use seasonal, fresh produce wherever possible, and we rely on our global supplier network to bring us the very best available produce.

Do you think passengers’ tastes are shifting to be more health-conscious?
This addition of more than 200 new plant-based choices, available at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is an important move to keep us at the forefront of culinary development. These new plant-based options are flavourful, colourful, bold and creative, reflecting our guests’ evolving palates and heightened focus on wellness, while balancing our more decadent and extravagant style.

Franck’s favourite foodie destinations 

Jamaica 
Jerk chicken is the most iconic of Jamaican meals, however, a visit to this Caribbean island wouldn’t be complete without trying ackee and saltfish. It’s the national dish and commonly eaten for breakfast.

Ho Chi Minh City 
Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City has food stalls on practically every street corner so don’t forget to pack your appetite. Devour a bowl of pho (noodle soup) and feast on a banh mi (sandwich).

Vancouver 
Naturally, a trip to Vancouver must start with poutine because nothing says Canada like the artery-clogging combination of chips, gravy and cheese curds. For something fresher, explore the city’s thriving sushi scene.

Published in the National Geographic Traveller (UK) Cruise guide 2019

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