Ravindra Jadhav, Executive Chef @Pacific Dawn, P&O Cruises Australia, shares wonderful memories and some pretty awesome words of wisdom for the young
Pacific Dawn is a cruise ship owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by P&O Cruises Australia.
She was built in 1991 by the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy as Regal Princess.
Length: 245 m
Fuel oil capacity: 2,727 t (2,684 long tons; 3,006 short tons)
Height: 56.00 m (183 ft 9 in)
Fuel consumption: 1,700 imp gal (7,700 l)/hr; (75 ft/gallon, 6 m/l)
Capacity: 2,020 passengers
How did it all start? Share your culinary journey with us
After finishing school education, I did my catering certification from IHCTAN Dadar catering college. I got selected to work for Indian hotel co ltd, worked for 4 years, learnt all the basics of bulk cooking there. I tell you it is the best place to be as a Trainee cook.
To explore more in the culinary world, I decided to work for Saudia Airlines catering unit in Jeddah. I tell you what a huge operation is is! I worked under some very good Chefs, Chef Shaun Dsouza who lives in Canada now. I learnt Arabic, Lebanese, Moroccan cuisine there. Then in Jan 1995 got the opportunity to work on cruise ship.
What are your earliest memories of the kitchens you worked in?
I remember the first day at Taj - main kitchen- the chef asked to get a handy from the pot wash area, as I reached the pot wash, I saw all the handis (pots) bigger than the size of my entire body, somehow I dragged one of the pots and brought it near to the kitchen range. The Chef said 'always ask for help if you think you cannot do it alone.'
Another incident happened when I was working in afternoon shift, it was a Wednesday evening, we were four guys in the kitchen, usually a very quiet evening for the restaurant and suddenly we got 40 guests in the restaurant. I tell you, the way I handled those orders, the Exec chef called me in his office the next morning, and gave me an appreciation award in front of the entire kitchen. I consider that as a biggest awards of all time.
What was your first day on board like? Can you take us down the memory lane? Which ship, what did you feel, what happened etc?
I always wanted to work on ships, to explore the world around to see and enjoy different culinary experiences. In Jan 1995, I got selected for Celebrity Cruises and joined the ship called MV Zenith, as soon we joined the ship we were instructed about safety procedures and taken to our assigned cabins, taken to laundry for uniform, and was asked to start duty within 1 hour.
I was asked to work in the cold section of the galley, making cold appetizers for the evening service. I was asked to arrange 1200 cocktail silver bowls, in plastic white trays, and then to arrange four pieces of prawns in each bowl with a lemon wedge and tomato claw and a piece of black olive, totally to be done by one person. Since one is new, one would get it done very carefully. That evening it was 11 pm, and I thought it must end of shift for the day, as I started clearing my station, one of the guys got 60kg of Alaskan crab to be shelled for meat. It took us another 3 hours to get that done. We didn't even realize the ship had sailed already and next day we had to report at 5:30 am for USPH inspection, and we were at 5:15 am ready. The first day was very eventful, very tiring, and still full of memories, then after few weeks got settled down with work .
A dish your patrons/guest love
As a chef I like to do simple dishes with fresh ingredients, my guests love a pasta dish - Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce, and grilled lamb chops rustic potatoes and rosemary pepper sauce. I love to bbq & all kind of marinated meats and cuts and vegetables
What according to you does it take to become a successful chef?
Attitude and discipline are the most important things one should have to become a successful chef.
What advice would you give to a young culinary student?
Now in today's world all young kids they want everything quick and fast, they need quick results. I think cooking is all about passion and patience, every ingredients takes its time to give out it's fragrance and aroma to the dish, same way we need to put our efforts in and let the time show and give aroma and flavour to us as our reward for our hard work.
What instruments/ equipment/devices you cannot imagine working without?
The most important device for me as a chef is my sharp knife. I cannot imagine myself working without it. We have got thousand different devices in the market, I love to do all and everything manually so don't need to wait for nobody.
Your favorite ingredient is…
My favorite ingredient is SALT, the most important ingredient of my kitchen. Imagine our human body without SALT, it is meaningless.
Name chefs you find amazing or chefs work you admire
I follow my own style, I don't copy anybody, I love to stick to basics and use our imaginations and variations.
I admire two Chefs:
- Chef Gordon Ramsay (for his aggression)
- Chef Vikas Khanna (for his purity and simplicity)
What books should every chef read?
There are many books in the market for me the most important book is Modern cookery (both volumes) Food lovers Companion.
Share with us some of the challenges of working on board. How is life different from the shore?
There are plus and minus points about every place. Onboard we need to make ourselves very tough. We need to be very fast in taking actions and have to be proactive, and the most important of all adjust oneself to the motion of the ocean.
The most challenging things I would say is regarding supply of fresh stuff and source of cooking, since we have limitation on the two things. At the same time, passenger satisfaction should be given best preference. On the other hand it is more disciplined, there are set rules and regulation which are very important for the busy operation.
You have proved cruising can be a career. What would you say to people who say cruise jobs are for a few years and not long term.
Let people say whatever they say, in any industry there are ups and downs, the position of chef is a very creative, passionate, disciplined and adventurous position. We don't get second chance; whatever has to be done, it has to be done in one go. I think it is the only place in hotel industry where quantity and quality is served together. We cater for almost 2500 guest and crew on board every single day and every single meal of the day, that too 24/7 no weekly offs, no national holidays.
One needs to keep himself up with the trends, we need to see what is the requirement of our clients and cater accordingly. For me it does not matter where you work; you need to do it with heart. I am very optimistic if we those simple rules all will come up with flying colors.