CD 157: Investigating the submarine canyons off Portugal


Food for thought...

How does the catering team fed the ravenous hordes on board RRS Charles Darwin? Read on to find out...

I have to admit that even though I‘d only heard good things about the food on board the Charles Darwin I was surprised at how excellent it actually is. We get three hot meals a day and the mess is stocked with goodies to pick at in between meals. During the night shift we often have toast, fruit, tea and biscuits; it’s a comforting feeling knowing we don’t have to wait till the next meal to get something to eat.

The galley area is situated at the front of the ship; it has a main mess, two smaller ones, a small kitchen, a cold room, a dry store and two freezers. The kitchen is rather small considering it’s used to feed 39 people!

All the vegetables, fruits, cheeses and cold meats are kept in the cold store which is actually very cold, at -170C it doesn’t freeze by using chemicals. It’s kept odour free by using carbon filters that take out all the bad smells. We’re already a week into the cruise and the cold room is still full of very fresh looking food. We’re running out of bread but when this happens Darren will start making his own - even better! The two freezers are packed with all kinds of products; many of them come all the way from the UK, even though the ship was last there two months ago.

The ship's menu has a very international feel; I was interested to see how many exotic spices and sauces were kept in the dry store, probably picked up in ports around the world. The ship also caters for special diets (vegetarian, vegans, gluten free etc.)

Organising the menu for the cruise is a tricky job since it involves lots of forward planning; once we’re out here there is no popping down the shop. This is all organised by John who’s the catering manager. The ordering was done in advance and the food was delivered the morning we left. John has a budget of £5.40 per person per day and he must make sure that he doesn’t get through the supplies faster than planned otherwise we will have to start fishing!

The other members of the team are Darren, Ali and Geoff. Darren and Ali are the chefs- they have the big responsibility of feeding the 20 crew and 19 technicians and scientists. Geoff is the steward and ensures the smooth running of meals and life on board. The catering team are a fun bunch, apart from feeding us they entertain us with their singing and impressions. After they finish their work they sit in the back deck and socialise with the rest of the team.

Darren is the first chef on board Darwin. He comments that the big appeal of working on ships is that you get to travel around the world- he’s been all over. He also enjoys finding out about the scientific progress that takes place.

Ali is the assistant chef. He’s worked on ships for a long time and really enjoys the lifestyle. One of the appeals is to meet people from different backgrounds.

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April 2004
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