Recently a reader posted a desire to know more about the culinary effort that will deliver the Wow to Oasis of the Seas’ guests. I asked Josef Jungwirth, our Director, Culinary Operations to give some flavor (sorry) to our readers’ understanding. Josef is a key lieutenant for the overall Food & Beverage team under the direction of Frank Weber, Vice President, Food & Beverage. Josef has presided over the culinary aspect of our new ship launches for many years.
I am privileged to manage, together with my culinary team, all the projects and tasks related to the food offerings onboard the greatest and most innovative ship built to date, Oasis of the Seas.
My task was to develop the menu programs for all the different types of restaurants which span from a first rate exclusive restaurant (150 Central Park) to a casual Italian trattoria, a tapas style at Vintages, all the various Café’s, the ever popular Windjammer buffet, a spectacular dining room, room service, and more. Calculating these menus and concepts includes tantalizing the taste buds of 6,200 guests, and our 2,300 internal guests (crew), a grand total of 8,500 for breakfast, lunch & dinner, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Cooking aficionados who prepare meals for themselves, for their families and occasionally plan a BBQ or party will truly appreciate what it takes to create the vast and varied number of dishes available onboard the ship on a daily basis, continually throughout the whole cruise.
Initially a lot of time was devoted to the development of the various venues giving each of the restaurants and food outlets have their own personality. Many of Royal Caribbean favorites such as Chops Grille, Café Promenade, Sorrento’s, Johnny Rockets, Windjammer, and Vintage can still be found, and a number of new eatery’s such as 150 Central Park, the Seafood Shack, Giovanni’s, Park Café, Chef’s Table, Donut Shop, Café Mondo and others have been added to the selection.
Once the various concepts were defined, then it was time to write the menus and develop the recipes – a very comprehensive process, to say the least.
Over the past 12 months regular menu workshops were held. Testing was done in our Test Kitchen located at Corporate Headquarters. Some testing was conducted right onboard the ships. The process for creating the dishes and recipes included the expertise of my talented team of Senior Executive Chefs and myself utilizing the best and freshest ingredients.
Every dish on each of the menus was put through a series of critical assessments. Here are a few considerations:
• Are the flavors and textures balanced and varied?
• How many steps are involved in sampling all the dishes?
• Is it feasible to execute this dish for the anticipated amount of guests?
• Do the dishes have an appeal to our international guests?
• How much preparation time is involved?
• Do we have the proper skill set to prepare and execute these dishes?
• Do we have the necessary equipment and space available?
• Is the dish within our budget guidelines?
• Are we able to receive these products onboard our ship consistently?
• Are the products we selected trans-fat free and from a sustainable, safe and approved food source?
• Are we happy with the presentation of the dish, and is it achievable?
• Is the menu description matching, and not over promising?
The next step is to invite our Company’s Executives to taste the new dishes. My Culinary Team assembles in the Corporate Test Kitchen to prepare for the luncheon [Adam’s note: I like this testing business]. Taking part in a luncheon in the test kitchen will always assure an element of excitement, especially to those who are invited for the tasting. Afterward the menus are tested for several weeks onboard one or two ships in our fleet. We gather all the feedback and comments from our guest, our front of house service staff and any needed adjustments to the individual dishes or menus are made before final approval is granted.
In addition to dishes being made by a recipe; all breads are freshly baked, all sweets and pastries are freshly prepared for each meal period, and all meats are cut onboard in our Butcher Shop. We prepare our own stocks, sauces and soups. Every dish ends up being prepared and plated to order.
In order for us to create and prepare all these high quality meals using only the freshest ingredients, I worked together with Senior Chef Helga Finnsdottir, who manages and oversees all the Galley, and Food & Beverage Front of house design, to select the Oasis’ culinary team. This team consists of 240 highly energized and dedicated team members who are supported by a team of 102 hard working stewarding team members who are responsible for keeping our galleys ship shape clean.
It will take a total of 342 team members, from 25 different countries, to prepare all the foods for all the venues. Managing the culinary operations team is Executive Chef Ivo Jahn who looks forward to his position onboard the Oasis in operations which can not be compared to anything existing today.
It is my belief that one of the most crucial aspects to the successful launch of Oasis of the Seas is a team which is highly motivated, well trained and has good discipline.
A good flow of communication, providing a clear vision along with specific directions on what is expected, providing the necessary tools, knowledge, equipment and materials to arrive at the respective results is equally important.
It will be simply incredible as these efforts all come together. It can be best described as a symphony orchestra, and I have the privilege of being the conductor.