Many flavours aboard
We caught up with Palakkad-native K Sreedhar, the director of food and beverages and Mumbai-based Ratish Dabre, the executive chef of Cordelia luxury cruise about what makes their platefuls unique
KOCHI: Imagine preparing cuisines that suit the palates of around 1,800 people who come from around the world. Dishes from Kerala, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Northeast and even European and Middle Eastern come to life in the middle of the ocean, on the luxury cruise ship Cordelia, in the hands of a Malayali flavour enchanter.
Palakkad native K Sreedhar, the director of food and beverages and Mumbai-based Ratish Dabre, the executive chef of Cordelia, provide around-the-clock, sensitive service. A small change in taste or a flaw in the preparation or presentation of the food can disappoint connoisseurs and bring down the reputation of the cruise. “The kitchen crew provides for around 1,800 guests and 600 staff members four times daily. Around 2,500 eggs are consumed daily while 150kg of Idli batter and around 200kg-300kg of chicken is consumed per meal. It is a 24X7 operation with 140 people working behind the scenes to keep the wheel turning. Cooks from around the country make their niche dishes at multiple kitchens,” they said.
Walking around with a contiguous smile, Sreedhar enjoys his daily job that involves meeting guests. He motivates his team to perform at their best. Sreedhar is the Food and Beverage Director at Apollo Group, Miami, Florida, and has worked with the company for the past two years. “We have multiple outlets on the ship, that serve various international and Pan- Asian cuisine. The buffet layout is probably one of the most varied assortments of Indian curries changed daily, reflecting specialities from different regions of Indian cuisine,” he says.
For a casual diner, the Food Court on Deck 10 of the ship, where the essence of Indian flavours — Tandoor, Kettle and Bun, Sugar and Spice, veg bang, Jain haven — will rejoice their tastebuds. A varied spread of breakfast and a very refreshing hi-tea menu is served with an option of mid-night snacks late into the night. For semi-formal dining guests, the ‘Starlight Lower’ on Deck 4 offers a family-style, elegant service that is included in the cruise fee. The ocean view adds to the delight. ‘Chopstix’, a pan-Asian speciality restaurant — is a perfect place to celebrate and host dinner during special occasions. Their unique Chef’s table concept exclusively serves around 10 people and has the chef personally explaining the menu to connoisseurs.
Ghar Ka Khana, a thali meal concept, is all about bringing home food on board. “With India’s diverse culture, it is important for us to mix flavours from around the country and make the best out of it. We blend out the menu to suit upcoming festive seasons, giving them a home away from home,” he says.
Executive Chef Ratish Dabre, who hails from Mumbai, also opines that India, with its variety of ethnicities and communities, has plenty to offer the world in terms of flavours. “Gujaratis have their unique food requirement, while the Northern region prefers a heavier diet with butter, ghee and cream. Down south, the food is spicier and Maharashtra falls in the mid-spicy area. It is important to balance all these flavours so that everyone can enjoy the food equally. The menu is constantly changing according to the customers we have on board. It is all about experience and the memories of a lifetime they take home from here,”