GG Archives Website - Link to Homepage

Culinary Department on a Steamship - 1910

In former years the supply of salted meat, hardtack, etc., for the equipment of the steamer formed the most essential part of the catering, which was occasionally improved by carrying cattle on the hoof, and the victualing and culinary arrangements closely connected therewith, belonging to the most important department of the modern passenger vessel, have been considerably improved and changed during the last twenty years, owing to great advancement in the art of cold storage.

These improvements and changes have attained a degree of perfection which is not excelled in the first-class hotels in even the largest cities. The improvement made even in the catering for the steerage passengers (luring the last two decades plays an important part in the kitchen arrangements. The competition of the steamship lines, as well as governmental regulations, have both been effective.

The arrangements which have had to be made by the kitchen and bakery, owing to this great advancement, have given rise to the adoption of arrangements which are totally different from those formerly used.

The modern bakeries, situated between-decks, bake delicious bread and rolls of all kinds, while the bakeries of the pastry cooks and confectioners are famous.

A steward of one of the large trans-Atlantic liners told the writer that the allowance for food for each first class passenger was $2.50 a day, without counting fuel, cooking, or any charge for service.

On one of the large coast- wise lines, the boast of the manager of the line was that the food for the first class passengers cost only 67 cents a day per passenger.

Photo 123 - Retrieving Poultry From The Refrigerated Room

Photo 123: Poultry From The Cold Storage Room Is Always In Good Condition

From this it will be seen that there is every desire to be liberal as regards the table of the first class. The table of the second class is equally good, considering the passage money paid, and is far better in every way than will be found in the ordinary country hotel. The food is better cooked and better served, and there are apt to be fully as many fresh vegetables.

The necessity of catering for 1,000 or 1,200 first and second class passengers on the modern express steamers presents conditions which are paralleled only by the most luxurious hotel. About twenty kinds of warm dishes, besides hot beverages, must, as a rule, be prepared for breakfast on the modern passenger steamer.

The luncheon comprises, in addition to the introductory course and salads, which latter are prepared daily and in a large number of different ways, three or four different soups, and eleven or twelve warm dishes, besides four or five different vegetables and an ample supply of cold dishes. The dinners on some of the ships consist of ten or twelve courses.

Photo 124 - The Galley Showing Steam Cookers

Photo 124: THE GALLEY
With Their Steam Cookers, The Galleys Are Kept Scrupulously Clean

The culinary apparatus used on the modern steamers comprise steam boiling apparatus for boiling vegetables, as potatoes, kitchen ranges of the most modern construction and ample facilities for grilling.

The mechanical equipment is very considerable, consisting of coffee mills, spice grating machines, cream whipping machines, mayonnaise mixers, meat mincing machines, knife cleaning and sharpening machines, and buffing heads for polishing silver, as well as the dish washers.

All of these are actuated by electricity. So perfect is the ventilation that there rooms in which the supplies are issued, also the wine vault and the cold storage rooms for meat and poultry.

All passenger steamers are now equipped with refrigerating machines, by which not only the saloon passengers, but also the steerage passengers, can be supplied with fresh meat daily, as well as fish, fresh vegetables, butter and beverages which must be kept cold. The cost of provisions two years ago for one line was four million dollars for one year.

A vast number of employees are necessary for preparing and serving the meals for the first class passengers alone. The entire management for the saloon is under the control of is absolutely no odor of any description in the first class saloon.

Adjoining the kitchen are the pantries, where the warm beverages are prepared. Here will also be found the ingeniously constructed mechanical apparatus for boiling eggs, which raise the eggs out of the hot water in exactly the number of minutes required. Here are also the great plate warmers and refrigerators necessary to supply the vast number of hungry passengers.

The issue room and storeroom are closely connected with the kitchen and pantry. The issue room provides for the daily supply and resembles a large grocery store. Below are the store the chief steward and his assistants. The work schedule of stewards is so arranged that you never have the same room and table steward.

The training of the kitchen personnel is most important, and one line has, for a period of fifteen years, been sending its head cooks to the European capitals and to New York for purposes of special study in the first-class hotels, in order to suit the taste of every passenger.

Photo 125 - The Pantry On The SS Amerika - Hamburg American Line

Photo 125: THE PANTRY
Everything Possible Is Hung Up To Avoid Breakage

Within a year or two it has been possible to carry living fresh fish, and also to dress the same at any time during the passage. One is amazed when the fresh fish tanks An the awning deck are seen for the first time.

Here carp, pike, trout, etc., may be found contentedly swimming around in the tank. When they are needed the cooks take them out of the water with nets and they are taken down to the galley.

On one line engaged in trans-Atlantic traffic there is a kitchen garden with strawberries, etc., in pots, which permits of hothouse delicacies being served en route.

The price paid for ocean passage may at times seem high, but it should be remembered that everything must be carried on the steamer, even to a glass of water. This necessitates, of course, great expense, for the weight of everything must be considered as freight.

Photo 126 - Chefs Preparing Meals In The Ships Galley

Photo 126: THE GALLEY
Is Where Delicious Food Is Prepared By Experienced Chefs For The Cabin Passengers

On some lines the meals are à la carte, on other lines the dinner at least is served like a table d'hote dinner. For the convenience of passengers who do not wish to make their own selections, suggestions are often made in the form of small menu cards which will be served on request.

On some lines, special menu cards are printed for little dinners given by parties, and we give an example of such a dinner.

Tomatoes San Francisco
Consomme' Théodora
Boiled Sole, Sauce Moscovite
Filet of Beef St. Florentine

Philadelphia Capon Lettuce Salad
Tutti Frutti Ice Cream Anis Pastry

The following is a bill of fare on one of the English lines, the meal being dinner. It will be seen that almost all tastes can be gratified.

Blue Points
Lax on Toast Radishes
Green Turtle
Potage Bloum
Halibut. Shrimp Sauce
Noisettes of Veal, MinnaIse
Broiled Squabs on Toast
Sirloin of Beef, Potato Croquettes
haunch of Mutton, Currant Jelly
Duckling, Apple Sauce
Brussels Sprouts Carrots & Turnips
Boiled Rice
Boiled & Soufflé Potatoes
Partridge, Crumbs, Bread Sauce
Cold Cumberland Ham
Pudding au Citron
Apricots, Conde
French Ice Cream
Cod Roe

Here is a dinner menu from one of the German lines:

Thickened Oatmeal Cream Soup
Consommé Andalouse
Boiled Haddock, English Egg Sauce
Roast Pork
Green Kale ' Potatoes Parisienne
Leg of Mutton
Stewed Prunelles Romain Salad
Fruit Pie

Here are two more menus for dinner and one for supper, also on a German liner :

Hors d'Œuvress à la Suédoise Chervil Soup with Dumplings Fried Sole, Sauce Tartan. Roast Hare A l'Allemande .
French Pullet
Compot Salad
Ice Cream Panache

Consomme, Vermicelli
Blue Tench, Butter, Horseradish
Tournedos, Mushrooms
Glazed Sweetbreads à la Trianon
Compot Salad
Nesselrode Pudding, Sauce Chaudeau

III. (Supper).
Potage Diplomate
Filet of Perch Pike au vin blanc Larded Fricandeau of Veal à la Milanaise
Tutti Frutti Ice Cream
Vanilla Pastry

These are in turn selected from the carte du jour, which is here given in extenso:

Hors d'Œuvress:
Hors d'Œuvres A, la Suédoise
Chervil Soup with Dumplings
Consommé, Vermicelli
Potage Diplomate
Fried Sole, Sauce Tartare
Line Tench, Butter, Horseradish
Filet of Perch Pike au vin blanc
Roast Hare a l'Allemande
Tournedos, Mushrooms
Glazed Sweetbreads as la Trianon
Early June Peas it l'Anglaise
French Fried Potatoes, Parsley Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes
Compote •
Preserved Cherries
Lettuce Salad—Tomato Salad
Salad Romain
Larded Fricandeau of Veal as la Milanaise
Râgout of Chicken à l'Indienne
Corned Tongue in Burgundy
Grill (To Order 13-30 min.) :
Mixed Grill, consisting of :
Filet mignon, Lamb ('hops
Kidneys. Sausages. Tomato
Tenderloin Steak, Entrecôte, Sirloin Steak
Lamb Chops, Mutton Chops
Plats du Jour
Leg of Lamb, Pommes Paysanne
Rôtis :
French Pullet
Ice Cream Panache
Nesselrode Pudding, Sauce Chaudeau
'Patti Frutti Ice Cream
Chocolate Ice Cream
Vanilla Pastry
Cheese:Camembert, Prairie, Swiss
Fruit Coffee

A breakfast menu is as follows : This might be served on any line. English or German.

Apples Oranges Grapefruit
Oatmeal hominy M lkri ce
Salted Codfish in Cream
Grilled Sole Maitre d'Hôtel
Kippered Herring From the Grill : Beefsteak
French Mutton ('hops
Pried Sausage, Mustard Sauce
Rostock Steak
Vienna Veal Steak
Filet Mignon Rossini
Fried Yorkshire Ham
Fried Wiltshire Bacon
Sauté and Baked Potatoes
French Fried Potatoes
Potatoes Macaire
Cerealine & Buckwheat
New-laid Eggs
Scrambled Eggs Orientale
Omelette Parisienne
Eggs De Lesseps
Banana Pancake
German Pancake
Fruit jelly Marmalade Ginger
Cocoa Chocolate Coffee Tea
Coffee freed from Caffeine
Fresh Milk & Cream COLD: Roast beef Turkey
Assorted Sausage
Gorgonzola & Edam Cheese

We also reproduce a carte du jour of the Ritz's Carlton restaurant on board a large express steamer. The idea of having a restaurant on an ocean liner is rather novel. Steamers which have this innovation have the restaurant in addition to the private dining room.

Fig 129 Sample Ritz-Carlton Menu

Figure 129: Sample Ritz Carlton Menu

Every first class passenger has access to ,the restaurant. The prices charged are similar to those of the grill room in the famous Carlton Restaurant. London.

An allowance of $25.00 is made to every first class passenger on ships where the Ritz's Carlton restaurant service is in commission, provided that no meals be taken in the main saloon.

In some cases where the passengers eat little, if at all, this arrangement is rather economical, especially on a very fast steamer which only occupies a small number of days in making a passage.

Photo 127 - The Galley On An Ocean Liner

Photo 127: THE GALLEY
On An Ocean Liner Is Firmly Anchored So That It Is Secure In All Weather

Passengers who appear regularly at the ship's tables will usually find at the end of the voyage the restaurant has been much more expensive than if they had taken their meals on the regular plan.

It is possible to change from the regular service to the restaurant service on the first day, provided notice is given to the purser immediately after sailing.

The special regulations, etc., relating to this matter vary on different lines, and the purser should be consulted. Passengers who have engaged their passage without meals, and who on account of seasickness desire to have their meals served in their rooms or on deck, will receive their order either from the kitchen of the restaurant.

If possible, orders should be omitted during the busiest hours of the day, say from 1 to 3 and 6.30 to 8.30. Vouchers should be signed for the above-mentioned meals. Meals are usually served à la carte; breakfast 7.30 to 11; luncheon 1 to 3; dinner 6 to 8.30. The orchestra usually plays from 1 to 3, and from 7 to 9 in the restaurant. Supper can be obtained up to 11.15 at night.

Photo 128 - Grinding Cutting And Pressing Machines In The Galley

Which Makes The Cook's Work Light, By Grinding, Cutting and Pressing

A person whose means are very limited will hardly be able to travel having restaurant service, but the cost of food may he readily figured from the bill of fare, the prices being given in marks: Thus, a portion of filet of beef costs 2% marks; asparagus tips, 2 marks; ices, 1 mark 50 pf.

From this it will be seen if all meals are taken in the restaurant the expense will be easily $6.00 or $7.00 a day; fees are given at each meal ! With this information the reader can readily determine this matter of living at sea.

Third class traveling is entirely practicable in England and Scotland, also Wales, but the third class is not recommended for Ireland.

Return to Top of Page

1910 Travel Guide by Scientifc American

Travel Guide Topical Index

Updates and Social Media