Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Good Bye Celebrity Mercury

It has been a great good five month on the Celebrity Mercury, I enjoyed every moment here and now I am sad to leave her.....and he leaving Celebrity. The beautiful Mercury will go in Dry Dock and then operate as Mein Schiff 2 for TUI, a German operator, and our sister company.

Most of us have been on Mercury for several month now and the team work is amazing, our ratings are getting better and better and if I watch the cooks on the line every night, I can see that there is a great team at work. We just have one more cruise left, and the rest of this one and then we all will part, sadly and either go on vacation (like me) or they are transferred to another ship. I know that I will be meeting up with a lot of friends again in the future as we are all in this big pool of worker bees going around from ship to ship.

In the past good 5 month I have travelled all the way from Alaska down the West Coast to San Francisco, then further south through the Panama Canal and now have been for some time in the Caribbean. I have seen a lot, tasted many new dishes and met many interesting people and new friends.

We had a lot of fun in the galley, something that is very important for me. No I am not the shouter, I don't want to have a heart attack before I turn 50, yes we all have to work hard, but there has to be some fun in it as well.

We are 107 Chefs in the Galleys of the beautiful Mercury, producing close to 10'000 Meals per day. This is a lot of food we use every single day, but even with these huge amounts, still everything gets made from scratch, the stocks, the sauces, the soups, just simply everything. That is maybe why it is so much fun working here.

During the time here there were many great moments, one of them was when we implemented our healthy Mess for the Crew, it was actually decided by the crew that they want to eat healthier so we made a new menu and then after one month had to change the location, we have 4 crew restaurants and the healthy mess was the smallest one, now it is the second biggest location, we just swapped 2 messes around, that is what I call success.

Of course we had a great Christmas, there is a lovely Blog about the buffet we made and just now we had Super Bowl, what an event, we had 2 buffets in the Theatre, one in the Night Club and one in the Casino, all at the same time with our dinner time in the Main Dining Room, so we were running around like.... But it was a great success after all.

Now on this last cruise we are lucky that we can spoil Crew and Guest alike as we usually need to have a certain amount of money in the thawing cycle for next cruise, but as we have no thawing cycle at the end of the cruise, we could use that money, so we had some great parties and a big crew brunch in the main dining room.

Of course towards the end it got a little chaotic with the hand over and imagine first day back in Baltimore over 300 Crew signed off for either vacation or a holiday, on the second day in Baltimore another 400 signed off and then we were the last ones to go, a bunch of about 100 going home February 28. During this time everybody from Tui came and started getting the ship ready for dry dock where she will be renovated and then sails under TUI's flag as "Mein Schiff 2"

Good luck beautiful Mercury, it was a real pleasure to sail on you, Thank you so much.

I am soon on my way to South Africa and I can promise you all that there will be many blogs wit loads of recipes, I have already started a list of dishes I want to make, most of them easy to cook, but delicious to eat, see you all soon!!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Parasailing in St. Thomas

Sometimes one has to be a bit of a Daredevil.......I am not, but we had a Crew Tour and for $15 we could go and have an afternoon of fun Para sailing in St. Thomas. I am scared of heights, but somehow it went a lot better than I expected. One is safely harnessed, has life wests, there was a great instruction on how it works and then the weather was beautiful, no wind just some rain clouds on the horizon.

We are pretty busy at the moment on the ship, apart from running a normal cruise we have to think about the closing of the ship and more information is coming and therefore more planning has to be done, so to just go away a bit for an afternoon is a very welcome break.

We were 12 on a boat, always paired up to go up in the sky, most of us went for the first time and one could feel that some of us were a little nervous....I was just nice and quiet....

The we got our harnesses and sat on the back of the speed boat, the captain puts a bit more power on and then is in the air, slowly going higher and higher. Yes I held tight on to the straps, but with time I relaxed more and more and started to enjoy the peace and quietness up there with the birds (no there were no birds, but it sounds good).

The whole trip took only about 5 minutes and then we got reeled in again, but wow, that was great fun and then of course, just before landing softly on our bums on the speed boat, we got dipped in the fresh sea water, really good fun!!!

So during the time the other couples got lifted in the air we just enjoyed a nice boat trip, having the wind blowing through our hair (not that there is much left!) and having a good time with everybody.

Now tonight I am doing all the schedules of when the crew messes will be open during the transition time on the 26th February and 27th February, then we can allocate the chefs to each shift and then we make a nice menu, there is still plenty in the freezer.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cruise Critics

As usual everything gets evaluated or criticised, and cruises of course are part of it. Cruise Critics is a blog where the members can share their experiences, good or bad and one can actually go to the individual ships and check out what they say about it and of course if someone has questions about cruising, this is the right place to go.

Of course there is much more on the website like special deals and so on, so one can brows for a long time and I think if one has time one can find really good deals for cruises.

And there are many Cruise Critics, we have at the moment 130 on board, many of them are Captains Club Members as well, that means they cruise often enough to get into this elite membership club and many of them are actually members of different elite clubs from different cruise lines.....that is a lot of cruising.

We of course do a lot of special things for them, we have an elite lounge breakfast (for Elite Captains Club Members) where we serve a nice continental breakfast with Smoked Salmon Bagels, Home made Graved Lax, Fresh Fruit, Mini Pastries, Freshly squeezed Orange, Carrot and Grapefruit Juice and a little hot section with a daily changing Special like Almond French Toast, Blueberry Pancakes or even Sausage and Gravy.

One has to look after the Cruise Critics as they are actually quite a powerful force and can make your rating (every guest gets a Comment Form at the end of the Cruise) or actually do a lot of harm. Celebrity started a new advertising Campaign and there was a huge uproar on the Blog site....WOW that goes very fast, it was such an uproar that the CEO himself started writing.

We have some lovely Cruise Critics on boars, one of them is Gail, a very seasoned cruiser and when she came the first time on board she was not very positive about us, but it seems like now she is very happy and yes, it is all published on the Cruise Critics Blog

Monday, February 14, 2011

Last Cruise on Celebrity Mercury

Yes, this is pretty much live from the Mercury, it is 07:30 in the morning, we are in Baltimore again and I have just finished my USPH Inspection. USPH means United States Public Health. We have that ever so often that we check the entire galley from top to bottom that everything is the way it should be.

We are about to start the last cruise on Mercury before she is going to TUI who will take her over from us February 27. We have one last 12 day cruise to the Caribbean and I know we will all make the best of it. I think I will just give you all an update of what is happening as we have loads of events scheduled, for guests and for crew.

Right now I am sitting here in front of the computer, having my Latte and am getting ready for the day. I still need to finish my Cruise End Report and make some rounds and then all guests will go off the ship. As usual it is freezingly cold here in Baltimore, I am happy when we are on the way south again, to places where it is nice and warm.

I have to go out today to buy another piece of luggage, I guess too much shopping over the past 5 month, so now everything has to fit into the suit cases. I guess I have a bit more as well as I am taking my uniform from ship to ship and all these chef jackets are adding up too (just looking for some excuses, it is the shopping that made the suit cases too heavy, lol)

Anyway, let me go, I just got asked for Bagels and smoked salmon for 20 people......and we need it NOW, please!!!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Exploring St. Maarten

Back in St. Maarten, but this time we rented a quad bike and started exploring the island. What a nice island, yes Philipsburg and Marigot are full of tourists and the traffic is really bad, especially between the two towns, but as soon as one drives out a little bit there are not too many cars and one can find the most amazing beaches, beautiful, clear water and very secluded.
It takes about one and a half hours to drive around the whole island, this means non stop driving. We didn’t do the whole island, but did the main part, driving up to the French side, past the airport to a town called Grand Case. We drove past Oyster Pond, then further to Orient Bay, where there is a beautiful beach and then over to Grand Case.

Grand Case is just what one needs for a relaxed vacation, not too many tourists, a lovely beach and some really nice restaurants. There are about 5 restaurants directly at the beach and there were maybe another 50 people sunbathing……..when we arrived in Phillipsburg there were in total 5 cruise ships with over 13’000 passengers and 7000 crew, so being here in Grand Case is like being in heaven.
The menu was simple and quite classical, but the presentation and taste was lovely. We had a deep fried Camembert to start, the Camembert was nice and matured so it was an extremely tasty dish.

Then we went for the “Rainbow” Burger which was served between 2 slices of sour dough bread, with loads of mozzarella cheese and tomatoes.

Then we had as well the Moules Mariniere, the Mussels steamed in white wine, cooked to perfection, fresh and steaming, just the right amount of garlic and onions, really nice!!!!
So, as a little recipe today I like to make the Deep fried Camembert, it is such a simple dish to prepare and one does not need a deep fryer to do this dish, one can easily shallow fry the Camembert and then finish off in the oven.

For 2 People you would need

1 Camembert
1 whole egg
1 Tbl. Spoon Flour
1 cup Bread Crumbs

1 cup oil
1 cup butter

1. Roll the Camembert in the flour then the egg will stick better to it.
2. Beat the egg, then roll the Camembert in the eggs
3. Roll the Camembert in the bread crumbs
4. Go back to the eggs and roll the crumbed Camembert again in the eggs, very carefully this time
5. Roll once more in the Bread Crumbs, like this you will have a nice and thick crust, preventing the Camembert to leak out
6. Heat Oil and Butter and shallow fry the camembert till golden brown
7. Finish in the oven at 160 º C or 300 º F

Serve with Cranberry Sauce or as shown in the picture, enjoy with friends and a good glass of Sauvignon Blanc
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