Cooking at Sea


Greetings. After working on small freighters and tugs for 20 years, with 5 of those years as a cook/deckhand, I thought I might see if anyone was looking for help, advice, menu plans etc… My experience is based on cooking for crews of 6 to 8 people, and watching others cook (or try to cook) for crews this size. Over the years I was helped by a mate with cooking experience (and my wife), and I thought I should pass it on. If I am at work and don’t have access to internet, it might be a few days before you get your questions answered. If I don’t know something, I’ll find out or refer you somewhere to find out. Also my email is Anyway, hope I can help!

Cooking at Sea galley tips

Sir, do you have all your menu plans and recipes in a data base? If you do would you be willing to share it with me? I’m working on a MSC ship crew of 35. I’m not cooking yet I’m a SA but I will be upgrading to chief cook soon. I want to look at other people’s menus so I can get ideals and start putting stuff together I think will work. I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel but just want to raise the level of what’s served just a little. I’m really looking to do the best job possible. If you have any words of wisdom. I’m all ears. Also I have another question. I’m working for the SIU. I am not unhappy with it. They have a path for me to Upgrade and I’m making a lot more than I was making at my shore side cooking job. I hear Chevron is good for cooks. Have you heard about any company’s I might want to check out or opportunity’s that are good? I think it’s important to have options. Don’t get me wrong I am looking for a home in terms of working for someone. I just want it to be as beneficial for myself as possible. I want to bring my a game and I want the company to do the same. I’m planning on going to a cooking program after my next hitch as well as a baking program in 2019.


How refreshing. A new poster who offers help instead of demanding information readily available on Google.


My data base is all pen and paper right now but I am working to remedy that. I have been showing the new cooks a 2 week menu plan with 2 entrees at dinner that is only repetitious at breakfast.I would be happy to email you a sample of it if you want. I’ve never cooked for that many but I have cooked for up to 10 with 2 entrees at dinner so I probably could have served 12 to 14. I think at that point if you have a person to help prep and you have a larger oven it’s pretty easy to double and triple. Let me say I’m no gourmet chef. When I was cooking most of it was plain American meals(meat loaf, chicken parmesan,rib roast, etc for dinners) with a few meals that came from the asian-mexican aisle. (Chinese spare ribs, Hawaiian garlic shrimp, enchiladas). I’m trying to build a guidebook I can just hand guys that will explain everything from keeping the coffee pot fresh to making a prime rib to meal plans and so on but I have quite a ways to go. As far as cooking jobs I work on a tug now. Most of those jobs are cook-deckhand and they want you to have an AB. If you are looking to get your feet wet you might try a company like Coastal Transportation in Seattle. Those are 200-300 foot freighters. They are always looking for cooks or they were. Email me and I’ll send you a few of my ideas and you can tell me if it’s the kind of stuff that is helpful. I think having a menu plan is mandatory and I see so many wanna be cooks waiting for Jesus to tell them what to serve for dinner. Hopefully I can help


Thanks. I hope I can help some people be successful.


A typical days meal when I was cooking looked something like this-
Breakfast- pancakes, eggs to order, bacon and sausage links, fried potatoes, muffins, cut fruit
Lunch- clam chowder, sourdough club sandwiches, tri-color pasta salad, vegetable plate
Dinner-meat loaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, chef salad, apple pie

If you are doing those warming trays because your crew is larger I would suggest you can still do eggs to order unless they all want poached or something. When I was in the military the cooks did eggs to order (even omelettes) for hundreds of guys. If everything else is prepared and someone is just making eggs while another person is serving it isn’t that hard.

Hope this helps. If you want some recipe ideas let me know what type of food you want to make and I’ll email you some.


I suggest that you publish your grub lists and menus as an ebook. I think that there is good demand for such a book. You could make your experience and skill available to a lot of people, and make some much deserved money on it.


:heart:️ this thread! There is nothing I ever appreciated more aboard ship than a cook (or ateward) who got excited about cooking his next meal! Really makes a huge difference in everyone’s quality of life.


Thanks for the suggestion. Right now I am just trying to get it all typed before the pages are too faded away to read, but maybe when that’s finished I’ll look into that more. I’m playing with a couple other ideas like Youtube videos. Not so much the cooking portion, because there are already plenty of cooking videos. Maybe more of galley organization, flipping an egg, keeping stuff from sliding around, do’s and dont’s. Maybe it sounds basic to people with experience, but I wished I had some type of resource when I was getting started. To give you an idea of how much I had to learn, the captain asked me to cook the asparagus in the walk in cooler. I said I had never cooked asparaus and asked how. He said, “Just cut the tips off and steam it”. So I did and when I put it on the table everyone asked where the tips were.


Thank you. A cook (or steward) who works hard can really make a difference in a voyage.


It would be nice to see more cooking on ships instead of opening a can


Ha ha. My favorite is doing a morning round through the galley and seeing the sweet potatoes in the steam tray at 10am still in cylindrical repose and the soup thawing from a solid block in the soup server. Thats when I know I’ve got a doozy of a steward department onboard and I’ll most likely be making the voyage stores order myself.

I always joke with friends that though I was warned by several mentors through the years, the least enticing part of being captain has always been being the food service manager. It sucks


No my favorite is when the main course is reheated mystery meat that’s been dumped (grease and all) over a salad.


@CookingatSea in support of Mardi Gras 2018 and the sailors that work in the GoM do you have any Cajon or Creole Cuisine recipes? Like Jambalaya, or some Louisiana Gumbo?

Below is a live Earth Cam link of Bourbon street today.


So this is my gumbo recipe.
ingredients: 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 whole cooked chicken (shredded), salt and pepper, 1 cup flour, 3 cloves minced garlic, 2 celery sticks (chopped), 1 medium onion (chopped), 1 bell pepper (stemmed, seeded, and chopped)(I don’t like green ones because I think they overpower the other flavors, but use whatever color you want), 8 bay leaves, 1 lb. sliced andouille sausage, 1 quart chicken broth, 1/2 cup green onions, Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning

Add oil to a 6 quart pot over medium high heat (large spaghetti pot). Add flour. Stir flour into oil for at least 20 minutes. Don’t let the flour burn but you want the mixture (your roux) to get darker. Stir regularly. Stir in garlic, celery, onion, bell pepper, and bay leaves. Let them sweat until soft (5-10 minutes). Add chicken stock, sausage, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1-1 1/2 hours. Add Creole seasoning a little at a time during the simmer until desired flavor. While gumbo is simmering, make a pot of white rice. 1/2 hour before serving, add shredded cooked chicken. Remove from heat. Remove bay leaves. Stir in green onion. Serve over rice. Serves 4-6. Easy recipe to double or triple.

I hope it meets the gulf standard.


One of my cooks many years ago thawed all meat in his bunk because he said it thawed better there. His nickname was Maggot. Once I saw the game hens at the bottom of his bunk I ate cereal and lunchmeat for the last 2 weeks.


I’m gonna guess ‘ol maggot didn’t possess a serve safe certificate.


Similar to mine, except that I season and fry the chicken before taking all of the meat off the bone and shredding it. . . . a Paul Prudhomme trick. . .


That sounds even better. I’m thinking it would have more flavor. Making a note of that. Thanks!


You should check out Prudhomme’s book, Louisiana Kitchen. Lots of good info in there. I also like the loaf pan cooked rice. Neat trick. I don’t always stick to the recipe, though. . .but use the rice to liquid proportion. Almost always use some kind of broth instead of water. Now, I never sailed as a cook (engineer), but am pretty handy around a kitchen. Link to the book: