Culinary Department on a Steamship

On the Day the Aquitania Sails, the Cold Buffet, a Marvelous and Elaborate Feast of Jellied Meats and Tempting Pastries, Make the First Dinner on Shipboard a Thing of Succulent Memory.

On the Day the Aquitania Sails, the Cold Buffet, a Marvelous and Elaborate Feast of Jellied Meats and Tempting Pastries, Make the First Dinner on Shipboard a Thing of Succulent Memory. GGA Image ID # 17a263c1f0

In former years, the supply of salted meat, hardtack, etc., for the steamer's equipment 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.

The Culinary Department belongs to the most important departments of the modern passenger vessel and has 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 during 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 coastwise 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.

The Galley on an Ocean Liner Is Firmly Anchored So That It Is Secure in All Weather.

The Galley on an Ocean Liner Is Firmly Anchored So That It Is Secure in All Weather. GGA Image ID # 17a4cb671d

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 that 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.

The Galley With Their Steam Cookers, the Galleys Are Kept Scrupulously Clean.

The Galley With Their Steam Cookers, the Galleys Are Kept Scrupulously Clean. GGA Image ID # 17a3b73d4b

The culinary apparatus used on the modern steamers comprise steam boiling apparatus for boiling vegetables, like 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 dishwashers.

All of these are actuated by electricity. So perfect is the ventilation that there is absolutely no odor of any description in the first-class saloon.

The Pantry Is Where Everything Possible Is Hung up To Avoid Breakage.

The Pantry Is Where Everything Possible Is Hung up To Avoid Breakage. GGA Image ID # 17a40b27cd

Adjoining the kitchen are the pantries, where the warm beverages are prepared. The ingeniously constructed mechanical apparatus for boiling eggs will also be found, which raises 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 storerooms 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. (Circa 1908)

Graphic Illustration of the Provisioning of an Atlantic Ocean Liner -- the SS Deutschland of the Hamburg-American Line for a Transatlantic Voyage.

Graphic Illustration of the Provisioning of an Atlantic Ocean Liner -- the SS Deutschland of the Hamburg-American Line for a Transatlantic Voyage. GGA Image ID # 17a30e1e94

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 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.

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 on 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 hothouse delicacies to be 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.

The Galley Is Where Delicious Food Is Prepared by Experienced Chefs for the Cabin Passengers.

The Galley Is Where Delicious Food Is Prepared by Experienced Chefs for the Cabin Passengers. GGA Image ID # 17a4804edb

On some lines, the meals are à la carte; on other lines, the dinner at least is served as a table d’hôte 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:

Private Party Menu for the Jordan Party on the RMS Laconia of the Cunard Line, 6 October 1913.

Private Party Menu for the Jordan Party on the RMS Laconia of the Cunard Line, 6 October 1913. GGA Image ID # 17a280ae2d

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.

Dinner Menu from the RMS Carpathia of the Cunard Line Dated 13 October 1912.

Dinner Menu from the RMS Carpathia of the Cunard Line Dated 13 October 1912. GGA Image ID # 17a28924d8

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

Dinner Menu from the SS Hamburg of the Hamburg-American Line Dated 31 July 1910.

Dinner Menu from the SS Hamburg of the Hamburg-American Line Dated 31 July 1910. GGA Image ID # 17a2c95f5a

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

First Menu Dinner

Hors d'Œuvres à la Suédoise
Chervil Soup with Dumplings
Fried Sole, Sauce Tartare
Roast Hare a l'Allemande
French Pullet
Compote Salad
Ice Cream Panache

Second Menu Dinner

Consommé, Vermicelli
Blue Tench, Butter, Horseradish
Tournedos, Mushrooms
Glazed Sweetbreads à la Trianon
Pheasant
Compote Salad
Nesselrode Pudding, Sauce Chaudeau

Third Menu Dinner (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 extension:

Hors d'Œuvres

  • Hors d'Œuvres A, la Suédoise

Potages

  • Chervil Soup with Dumplings
  • Consommé, Vermicelli
  • Potage Diplomate

Poisson:

  • Fried Sole, Sauce Tartare
  • Line Tench, Butter, Horseradish
  • Filet of Perch Pike au vin blanc

Entrées

  • Roast Hare à l'Allemande
  • Tournedos, Mushrooms
  • Glazed Sweetbreads as la Trianon
  • Larded Fricandeau of Veal à la Milanaise
  • Râgout of Chicken à l'Indienne
  • Corned Tongue in Burgundy

Grill (To Order 15-30 min.) 

  • Mixed Grill, consisting of Filet mignon, Lamb Chops
  • Kidneys, Sausages, Tomato
  • Tenderloin Steak, Entrecôte, Sirloin Steak
  • Lamb Chops, Mutton Chops

Plats du Jour

  • Leg of Lamb, Pommes Paysanne

Rôtis

  • French Pullet
  • Pheasant

Légumes

  • Cauliflower
  • Early June Peas à l'Anglaise
  • Asparagus
  • French Fried Potatoes, Parsley Potatoes
  • Mashed Potatoes

Compote

  • Preserved Cherries
  • Prunes

Salade

  • Lettuce Salad—Tomato Salad
  • Salad Romain

Entremets

  • Ice Cream Panache
  • Nesselrode Pudding, Sauce Chaudeau
  • Tutti 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 Milkrice
  • Salted Codfish in Cream
  • Grilled Sole Maître d'Hôtel
  • Kippered Herring

From the Grill

  • Beefsteak
  • French Mutton Chops
  • Fried 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

Griddle-Cakes

  • 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

Graphical Comparison of Provision of a Transatlantic Liner.

Graphical Comparison of Provision of a Transatlantic Liner. GGA Image ID # 17a5eafc55

Sample Ritz Carlton Menu

We also reproduce a carte du jour of the Ritz's Carlton restaurant onboard 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.

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 in 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.

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

Poultry From the Cold Storage Room Is Always in Good Condition.

Poultry From the Cold Storage Room Is Always in Good Condition. GGA Image ID # 17a3b33a18

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.

A Mechanical Kitchen Which Makes the Cook's Work Light, by Grinding, Cutting and Pressing.

A Mechanical Kitchen Which Makes the Cook's Work Light, by Grinding, Cutting and Pressing. GGA Image ID # 17a5a5c435

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

Inspecting the Ships' Provisions Before a Transatlantic Voyage circa 1908.

Inspecting the Ships' Provisions Before a Transatlantic Voyage circa 1908. GGA Image ID # 17d78da194

Inspecting Pork Packed in Barrels Prior to Transatlantic Voyage.

Inspecting Pork Packed in Barrels Prior to Transatlantic Voyage. GGA Image ID # 17d7ea7829

Inspection of the Ships' Bakery Prior to Departure on Transatlantic Voyage.

Inspection of the Ships' Bakery Prior to Departure on Transatlantic Voyage. GGA Image ID # 17d90e6385

Return to Top of Page