School Email Exchange

What do you eat?  How do you cook on board?

Posted on October 21 2012

Question submitted by Pacific Boychoir Academy

The quick answer is we eat a lot of good food cooked very carefully.

Shelby (steward), Heidi (assistant steward) and a daily assistant steward rotated among the volunteers, work long hours to provide three meals and three snacks (one during the night since there are deck and science watches all night long) for 38 people every day.

Produce for our trip, fresh off the refrigerated delivery truck, is laid out on cardboard to let the condensation evaporate in the sun before it is brought aboard and stowed.

Stewards aboard SEA's boats have been doing this for 40 years.  The Joy of Cooking cookbook in the galley has written in it the amounts of each ingredient for a dish needed for such a large number of people.  Shelby arranged for the meat, produce, baking ingredients—all the food needed for the entire expedition—to be bought or delivered while the Seamans was being prepared on the dock in San Diego.  She knows, for instance, how many pounds of chicken to purchase and how much is needed for a meal so she can plan how many chicken meals can be served during the expedition.  There are many different herbs and spices so chicken can be served for a Mexican, Chinese or other tasty meals.

The menu for the each day is decided the night before. The food we eat is just like what we have at home with a lot of fruits and vegetables served with the main course or for snacks.  The food on the Seamans is hearty, healthy and delicious.  Shelby and the galley staff provide vegetarian, vegan, low cholesterol, and other food choices to meet everyone's dietary needs.

Assistant steward Heidi Hirsch and Shelby Mann, steward, make rolls and bagels in spite of Matt Ecklund's help.  After the first week of the expedition, and except for English muffins and tortillas, our stewards bake all our bread. 

Great care is taken in the galley to prepare food safely on a moving boat.  There are bars around the cooking and storage areas to prevent food from going where it shouldn't be when the seas are rough.  There is a commercial-sized stove with a griddle and four burners, and an oven that can hold eight cookie trays.  There are bars around the stove and between each burner.  In the center of the galley is an island with counter space for food preparation.  There is a sink for washing dishes, a sink for washing meat and a Hobart dishwasher that sanitizes the dishes with 180-degree steam.  In the galley there is also a small refrigerator, but down the hall is a large stainless steel walk-in refrigerator, and a door inside leads to a walk-in freezer, both piled high with well-organized crates of food.  Organization is very important to have the galley run smoothly.

Heidi Hirsch emerges from the galley with some of the sandwich fixings for lunch ready to be placed on the tables.