Cooking at Sea


Thanks for the link! Although I didn’t cook a lot of that kind of food, I used chicken broth in my rice for the Shrimp Creole recipe I have. Appreciate it.


Good. I have to say that having a good cook or galley team, depending on the size of vessel and/or crew can make for a very happy group. I was CE on an ATB for many years. Most of those years, we had two cooks that rotated the position. One was VERY good, was innovative in his cooking and really loved his work. It was always sad to see him go home when we had to stay on. His relief. . .well, I don’t want to cast aspersions. . .but he was one who I had sailed with at a previous company, and his reputation as a bad cook was only exceeded by his reputation as an alcoholic. . . we were all sad to see him come onboard. . . .


And don’t forget baking skills. When we rode a towboat down the Mississippi in the 70’s, we passed a fairly ragged looking craft going upstream. I asked the mate about her he recounted the troubles on board that boat and then he shook his head sadly and said “And they eat store bread.” The cook on our boat was a retired Navy Chief had cooked for the Kennedys at the Hyannis compound when Jack was President. Fresh baked bread and biscuits every day.



One cook that worked for us made his own dough and that recipe got passed around to several of us. Although I did a fair amount of dessert baking, I never quite got the knack of that dough. The cook who worked opposite me would use it for everything from bread, rolls, pizza, and cinnamon rolls. I would usually cajole him into leaving some dough for the beginning of my run
My baking pet peeve are cooks who use frosting out of a can.


Can frosting is revolting, tastes of chemicals not found in nature.


Butter Cream Frosting
Ingredients- 1/2 cup butter, softened, 1/8 tsp salt, 4 cups powdered sugar, 2 tbl of milk, 2 beaten egg yolks, and 1 tsp vanilla extract
Cream butter until smooth. Add salt and the sugar gradually, blending while you add it. Then add egg yolks and vanilla and blend well. Add the milk and any remaining sugar, beating until smooth and ready to spread. Makes enough frosting to cover tops and sides of two 8 or 9 inch cake layers.

I’ve seen other recipes that used margarine and/or shortening but I took the title of the frosting seriously. Also I’ve seen recipes without the egg yolks, and I’ve seen recipes that use clear vanilla extract instead of the darker stuff (and no egg yolks) so it wouldn’t have the yellowish tint. Also you can use heavy whipping cream instead of milk. Use less milk or whipping cream if you want thicker frosting.


I remember back when the NYS Canal System was busy we had a couple of Cooks that worked the Summer Months that were actually Chefs from some Highly Rated NYC Restaurants, man did we eat!

One of the last Boats that I was on before the 1988 333 Strike had an Older Portugee Cook that made a Killer Bread Pudding which I’ve never been able to duplicate. So, if you have a recipe, I would love to give it a try. I swear it took my years to work off the weight that I put on as he fed us really good!

@CookingatSea, this is a really great thing that you are doing by sharing what you’ve learned over the years and I hope that you do put it all done on paper where people can get ahold of them as it would really improve the quality of life for those on boats that do not (as most Tigs now a days) have a designated cook onboard. As for me, I would gladly pay for a copy if you do decide the sell copies.


I will share a couple of seagoing food stories. Probably the BEST food I had onboard was on the MONTANA. States lines didn’t skimp on the food budget, and most of the kitchen staff were trained on the Matson/PFE passenger liners. . . during my ABS days, I used to survey a LOT Of Greek ships. During the off season (for Greek tourism) a lot of the chefs from the tourist traps would be cooking onboard their ships. I recall one instance when I had a UWILD offshore on one of the Mini Ships, the superintendent had the cook make a special meal (shrimp in tomato sauce with feta) for me while the survey progressed. I could not possibly eat it all and I had to convince the super to make sure the crew got some, too. . . On another Greek ULCC, I was out in the lightering area offshore of Galveston, and had one of the freshest grilled fish dinners I ever had, anywhere. As I was waiting for the helicopter back in, I looked down from the bridge wing to the swimming pool and saw the cook tossing food into the water. . . they were catching the fish at various loadings (I think their last port was Cayo Arcas) and putting them into the pool to keep them alive, well fed and fresh. . .


Awesome. The age old conundrum. Should we swim in this tiny salt water pool or use it as a live well. Yeah, let’s use it as a live well and have fresh fish for the crossing!

Would probably get interesting if you had an agriculture inspection though :wink:


They hadn’t thrust those responsibilities on the Class Surveyors at the time. . . . .maybe now?


I have had two experiences were top Chefs were involved. The first was on an 8-legged jackup rig called the John C. Martens that had been having a major upgrade in Singapore.
When completed they had a self-congratulatory dinner at the Ming Court Hotel, which was one of the best in Singapore at the time. They asked for the French Chef to come out to complement him for the good food. Someone (probably as a joke) asked if he wanted a job as Camp Boss on the rig, which he, to their surprise, accepted.

This was one of my pet rigs when I first started in the rig moving business in the mid-1970’s, so I was a regular visitor on board. Every Sunday the Camp Boss put on his Chefs hat and cooked the lunch in the best Micheline style. One time he served up New York Prime Ribs, medium rear and with little white hats on each rib. He was personally carving for each “guest” in best Hotel style, when one of the Driller complained; “This meat ain’t been cooked”, whereupon the Chef shouted; “You cocksucker, get out of my restaurant” in his very French accent, to great applause from the audience.

He also kept a stock of Brandy, Red Wine and Tiger Beer because; “You can’t make good gravy without Brandy or Wine and proper Sauerkraut without beer”. But he soon realized that good gravy and Sauerkraut was wasted on a Drill crew, so I’ll find a couple of cold Tiger under my pillow at 3 o’clock coffee break when on board.

He later moved to Brasil and started his own catering company there, serving the offshore industry there.

The second was a Dane who had been the Head Chef at the Royal Copenhagen Hotel, but had got tired of all the administrative work and joined a catering company in the Norwegian North Sea. After a couple years on the Ekofisk Field, serving 2-300 people and “stirring the soup with a paddle” as he described it, he joined Dyvi Offshore as Camp Boss on a rig working in Angola.

This was in 1980-81, at the peak of the civil war, with difficulty in finding any local supplies, but Dyvi had arranged with a Shipchandler in Rotterdam to send containers with supplies on a ship that traded Europe to South Africa. When the ship came passed Angola one of the supply boat would rendezvous with her to pick up the containers. On the return trip there would be fresh vegetable and fruit etc. from Cape Town.

Every Sunday there would be a lunch buffet worthy of the Royal Copenhagen, with all the goodies imaginable, incl. smoke salmon, beef tartar and a whole cooked trout served on aluminum foil made up in the form of a Viking ship. Working for Elf there were also beer and wine for those off duty.


That might be OK in certain specific situations but I’d be wary of the cost of breaking the ship’s hierarchy for short term gains. At minimum be aware that it could have a cost. Process not outcome.


Easy work boat lasagna:

1 pound lean hamburger
1 jar spaghetti sauce
10 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cups mozzerella, shredded
15 oz ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 egg
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
2 TBS Italian seasoning

brown the meat with the spices, add sauce. In a seperate bowl beat the egg and add ricotta and parmesan. In a large baking dish (8x15?) place 2 cups of meat sauce and spread evenly. Put 4 noodles length wise and break a fifth to fit the end of the pan, push lightly into sauce. Spread the ricotta mixture over the noodles, sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of the mozzerella over and then top with 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce. Put the last 5 noodles onto the sauce as before, top with remaing sauce and cheese. Bake 350 degrees for about 45 min to 1 hour. Remove and let it sit for about 10 minutes before slicing.


Swiss Steak

4 pounds round steak
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 TBS ketchup
2TBS vinegar
salt and pepper

Put the veggies, ketchup, and vinegar in a sealed container, shake to mix and let refrigerate over night. The next day, season the beef with salt and pepper (or Tony’s) and brown on each side in a large black pot (cast iron dutch over). Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Layer the meat and veggies in the pot and bake, covered for 1 1/2 hours. Serve with egg noodles or rice.


Thanks for sharing! I would only suggest if you have a slow day make a large batch of sauce and freeze it so you can pull some out for different meals.


Another good one thanks!


Great stories. Thank you everyone. I put this on the other thread I started but here is a link to a video for flipping over easy eggs.


Thank you for your kind words.The bread pudding recipe I have is pretty basic but it’s at the bottom of this text. I was planning to make a guidebook I could hand out to new cooks. Right now I am typing the recipe section. For some reason I thought it would be easy! Yesterday I finished typing the casserole section. Today I want to finish sandwiches. Hoping to be done with the lunch section by the end of the week and moving on to dinner. Since you are the second person in the last few days to suggest this, once I finish getting it typed out, organized, and self edited, I will figure out a delivery system and get it out to whoever is interested. Thank you for your interest.
Bread Pudding
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Ingredients- 10 slices white bread, cut into cubes, 1/4 cup butter, melted, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 cup raisins, 6 eggs, beaten , 3/4 cup white sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 cups hot milk (160 degrees F), 1 pinch ground nutmeg
Lightly butter one 2 quart baking dish ( i like the 8x8 glass ones). Combine bread cubes, butter, cinnamon and raisins. Mix well and place in baking dish. Beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt. Add milk, mix well and pour over bread cubes. Sprinkle with nutmeg and bake for 25 minutes.
This recipe is more basic then some. Some people get butterscotch or pumpkin involved. I hand mix heavy whipping cream with some sugar (to taste) with a fork until I have a topping for it. Only takes a couple more minutes.


Reminds me of a cook we had on a gas platform. He really tried hard and made very good food. The menu board for the evening meal was written up the same as a high class restaurant with Boeff a la this or lamb a la that etc etc. The bears would come in and look at the food and say I’ll have some of that beef shit or some of the lamb shit. In the end the poor guy gave up and when the bears would point to a dish and ask what it was he would just say beef shit or lamb shit or whatever.


HAHA. Reminds me how I had to trick guys into eating Quiche by calling it something like Sausage and Egg Pie.