One of the #1 followers of the JCR, my dad, specifically asked me to interview the cooks on the JCR. They probably have one of the hardest jobs on board. For long assignments like 4 months on a ship, headed towards the Arctic or the Antarctic, with a crew of about 30 and a science cruise that could be up to 48 people, keeping everyone well fed and happy is no simple task. If you consider that JCR’s home port is Stanley, and Stanley does not have enough produce to feed itself, it is very challenging to get creative with the limited supply and variety of fresh items that run out quickly. Nevertheless, we had salad every day, there were apples, oranges and kiwis in the common lounge until a couple of weeks ago, and there is always a dessert we look forward to on the menu. There is no doubt that the great cooking Ash and Jamie do has kept the spirits high, but we are probably all going home a few pounds heavier.
DA: Where do you guys come from:
J: Surrey, UK.
A: Ramsgate, UK.
DA: How long have you been seagoing?
A: Since 1975. Started as a galley boy on a tanker, then became assistant steward. I’ve been to many places including the Persian Gulf, Australia…
J: 20 years now. I also started as a galley boy on a tanker. I’ve served in 3 wars now; The first Gulf War, I was on a tanker. Then for the Yugoslavia war, I was on a helicopter landing ship in a NATO base at Split, Croatia, then for the 2nd Gulf War, I was on a troop carrier. So I’ve served on tankers to military support vessels to Polar vessels, but have been to warm places as well like Brazil and Singapore.
DA: Since you’ve started 20+ years ago, have there been changes that made being a cook in a floating and rocking galley easier? Does it become second nature after a while to boil a huge pot of water in a rocking ship?
A: You always have to be aware of what is going on, it doesn’t really become second nature, there is no such thing. This ship can roll different ways at any time, you have to be conscious of what’s happening. Also now people have food allergies that they didn’t have 20 years ago. We have to adopt to those kinds of things as well.
DA: Who makes the menus and when we arrive at a port, who buys the fresh produce/food supplies?
J: Richard, the purser buys the food at port. Ash and I make the menus, usually I do the breakfast and the desserts and he does the savory recipes. At Stanley, for example, the choices for produce are quite limited and very expensive too.
DA: Do you have your own recipe books? Do you cook from different books/sources or use your own recipes?
A: The recipes come from many books, we have a good selection of worldwide chef’s recipe books. Also we get ideas from our holiday experiences in Turkey! (DA’s note: Ash spends a lot of time vacationing in Turkey and he especially likes the Limon Kolonyası, and brings a few bottles of it to the ship).
DA: At the moment, how many people are you cooking for?
J: 54 at the moment, but from lunchtime tomorrow it will be 32 (DA’s note: a day after this interview, all the science people will have left the JCR). It takes us about 4 hours to prepare and cook the lunches and dinners.
DA: Does it get difficult to come up with creative menu items when the fresh stuff runs low?
J: Yeah, the choices go down a lot. We never really run out of everything fresh, or everything we need, but we get really low. It depends on the science cruise too, the number of people and how long it is. We can go for 45 days or so without having to stock up more food.
DA: Do you have to do other tasks besides cooking? Do you have to stand watch in the Bridge, for example?
A: No. But the galley and store rooms have to be maintained. We like a high level of cleanliness. The emergency stocks need to be maintained as well. We have canned stuff there which has long shelf life. This is in case we get stuck in ice or something.
DA: What has been the most memorable from your 20+ years of sailing?
A: The places we visited. I can’t forget the smell of a river in Singapore!
J:Sailing into Capetown was quite impressive. This time we will be onboard until January 22, and then back home.
DA: What do you do when you are home?
A: Chill, relax, go to vacation in Turkey!

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1 Comment on Ash and Jamie – JCR’s cooks

  1. Hulya Saydam says:

    Your dad was right, Derya! The Chefs’ role is so significant in keeping everybody on board happy and I really enjoyed the interview. Who would have thought you would have ‘Limon Kolonya’ on JCR.

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