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Dispatch 18: Fuel for the Crew

Stewards Colin Grenning and Cindy Parsons in the crew’s mess. (Photo: Isabela Le Bras)
Assistant Cook Woody Compton cleaning the stove. (Photo: Isabela Le Bras)
Chief Cook Cheryl Benger and Assistant Cook Colin Peters preparing dinner. (Photo: Isabela Le Bras)
The officers mess aboard the Louis. (Photo: Isabela Le Bras)

Helen Gemmrich

September 9,2021

Just as the engine room is the powerhouse of the ship, the galley team is the powerhouse of the crew. And exactly like the engines, they never seem to stop. The Louis’ four cooks and five stewards are constantly on the go, planning, preparing, and serving meals for everyone aboard. Even when the rest of the ship stops active operations in high seas, the galley carries on.

Under the direction of Chief Cook Cheryl Benger, the galley offers three hot meals a day, at 7:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 4:30 p.m., with at least two main course options each meal. There was some initial confusion on our part about the Newfie terminology – the midday meal is “dinner” (unless it’s packed, then it’s “lunch”) and the evening meal is “supper” (except when eating out, then it’s “dinner”) – but we all agreed that no matter the name, the meals are always delicious. My personal favourites so far include taco night, the strawberry spinach salad and buttered roast squash.

Within a week, the stewards greeted everyone by name, knew our dietary preferences by heart and even recommended specific desserts based on our previous choices. Our morning science meetings now started with a cookie update: the first person to walk in with that day’s baked goods would give a quick rundown of the newest cookies, cupcakes, squares, or freshly baked bread (of which there were many!). Wanda Lee Burton was even kind enough to share the recipe for her gluten free chocolate pavlova cookies after we devoured the entire batch in under two hours.

The creativity and abundance on this trip is unbelievable. Every meal of every day is different, and the snack and beverage stations are fully stocked even outside of mealtimes. The fruit bar boasts the usual suspects of apples, oranges, and grapes, but also has kiwis, grapefruit, blueberries, melons, and pears. There are salads of all sorts, an entire shelf of cereals, a bread toasting station, and a blender for smoothies. There’s even an ice cream machine!

The crew’s mess on the 600-level deck is cafeteria style, with main courses ordered directly from the galley and self-serve salads, drinks, and desserts. One deck up in the officers’ mess, the stewards deliver your order to your table, more closely resembling a casual restaurant. In my opinion, the crew’s mess has a bigger selection of snacks, so it is my go-to for tea, fruit, and cookies.

Feeding 76 people on rotating shifts and with various dietary restrictions is a logistical challenge, so the Louis has two storekeepers and a logistics officer. Behind the gym and designated darts arena, cavernous storerooms hold everything from potatoes and ice cream to mops and extra bowls. At the start of this trip, we had 18,000 eggs on board! I can’t even imagine meal planning for four weeks, let alone for 76 people.
In addition to their galley duties, the stewards also clean officers’ rooms, lounges, and bathrooms, helping keep the ship neat and tidy even behind closed doors.