Curious Cruise Ship Jobs: Pastry Chef

The man behind the desserts shares his day-to-day.
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When you think about who is employed on a cruise ship, the titles “Captain” and “Cruise Director” probably come to mind. These jobs certainly sound official (and they are), but they are just two among the many necessary to ensure your cruise is smooth sailing.  Crew members onboard Royal Caribbean International ships play very specific, often unexpected roles in creating the kind of experiences that will inspire you to keep living the cruise life.

In our Curious Cruise Ship Jobs series, we will highlight several Royal Caribbean crew members who chose to work at sea rather than in an office building − and definitely don’t have your everyday nine to five.

Who, for example, do you think is responsible for ensuring the quality, consistency and trendiness of all the baked goods served up on board? Corporate Pastry Chef Stefan Brueggemann rises to that challenge every day. He trains and oversees the pastry crew, handles the influx of ingredients coming from around the world and works to develop new dishes and write the recipes for them – which isn’t as simple as it sounds.

“Cream cheese, for example, has a different percentage of fat in Europe, Asia and the States, so as I am writing all the recipes I need to adjust them and advise the ships of it,” Brueggemann said. “Another day to day job for me is the calculation of all the different dishes we produce so we can stay within our budget.”

Since a ship at sea can’t have ingredients delivered every day like a restaurant on land can, Brueggemann needs to plan dessert menus quite far in advance.

“New menus for ships in Asia need to be organized three months ahead of time to give enough lead time for the inventory,” he said.

How else is being a pastry chef on a cruise ship different than being a pastry chef on land?

“You work and live together with your coworkers, so you learn a lot about different cultures and habits,” Brueggemann said. “Sometimes I can see people’s jealousy when I talk about my job and all the different ports I travel to. My favorite aspect of this job is the traveling.”

Brueggeman says the most challenging part of his job is keeping up with the fast-moving trends in the food industry combined with regional tastes in different parts of the world.

“I need to find the right mixture of a dessert that everybody loves, but is also up to date,” he said. “A dessert popular in 2012 might not be popular in 2014. I need to see where the trends are going.”

If you’re wondering what some of the fruits of Brueggeman’s labor might include, feast your mind on Apple Parcels, Pavlova, Sky High Lemon Meringue Pie and Caramel Apple Pie, all served on board Royal Caribbean ships.

Lucky for every dessert-coveting cruiser he enjoys his job so much!

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