What shipping needs from its cooks

More needs to be done with regard to maritime training catering personnel on ships”, said Cyprus Shipping Chamber Chairman Captain Eugen Adami in a keynote address to the SeaChefs seminar in Cyprus. “Today a cadet is on average 21 years when joining ship, by age 45 the first prolonged problems with diet related diseases appear, like high blood pressure, cholesterol etc. This cadet and officer actually served 18 years on board of our ships and was only 6 years on vacation. We made him actually sick”, Captain Adami says!!

He expanded on what owners expect from their catering staff: that they offer dishes based on dietary preferences of all crew and all cultures on board, i.e. no pork for Muslim crew. They offer a variety of menus taking into consideration all hygiene requirements and dietary and health practises. In short wholesome meals served in high quality.

What are the current problems? Adami sees three issues: ship managers are having difficulties finding qualified catering staff. Cooks have difficulties offering dishes other than their native dishes on vessels which are manned by European crew. There is a lack of skills: baking skills; a lack in communication skills (English knowledge); a failure in hygiene and safe working practises.

He is critical too of cost control and budgeting saying that the frequent discrepancies on board vessels and the manipulation of figures show that catering staff are just not fully aware of the importance of cost controlling and the accurate inventories and sensible provision requisitions.

Having pin-pointed the issues he says, “All Cooks and Stewards have to graduate from a accredited catering school. Companies have to develop refresher E-learning courses to keep all Cooks and Stewards regularly abreast with nutrition developments. In conclusion we need common minimum standards for the catering department. We see excellent opportunities for young Europeans to take up this profession and avoid painful unemployment in their home countries.”

This underscores the rational for the EU sponsored Sea-Chefs project led by Bernhard Schulte Ship Management to find answers to the burning issues and assist the industry to kick-start a new and long overdue certification for ships’ cooks.

A report on the Cyprus seminar by Captain Ralph Becker Heins of MSG MarineServe GmbH is attached.

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