Memoirs of Christmas @Sea

Saturday, 21 December 2013 - 1:22pm IST | Agency: DNA

Working as a chef on the largest ocean liner was some kind of an experience, but the real thrill was the whole build up to the legendary Christmas voyage/cruise in the Carribbean.

The Baker chef would start baking his ginger bread tiles for the Gingerbread Houses. We used to create a whole Chistmas village with houses which were made from gingerbread cookie tiles and were put together with royal icing. It took us about a week to put it together and just before December 22, the village was installed to display in the grand lobby of the Queen Mary 2. The guests were completely mesmerised by the village which was stunningly set up with houses made with candy and chocolate.   A mini train (bought from a toy shop) would run through the village. Menus were extravagant all over the ship.

A gala dinner with smoked salmon, foie gras, caviar to pimp it out as appetisers and followed by a classic roast of Turkey or Goose along with the trimmings such as stuffing, gravy, roasted root veggies, brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce was hosted on Christmas eve. This was a ceremonial routine in my life on board as I was responsible to make sure it was extremely tasty.

Each table (there were over 600) in the main dining room had shimmering cutlery, starched serviettes, and plates with mandarin oranges, nuts and candy. The whole idea was to make the guests feel at home… ‘Home Away From Home’, was our motto.

Roasting about 200 of those (six kgs each) Tom Turkeys was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I mastered it and continue to roast a turkey every year wherever I am.

Sweets are an integral part of the christmas table, just like in India, families start baking the Christamas sweets in their houses, our baker used to make the Stollen (German Christmas cake) almost a month in advance and Pannetone (Italian christmas cake) too. Ours was a very international fare where chocolates, pumpkin pie, warm desserts in chocolate were consumed in copius amounts.

Christmas day lunch was a traditional roast beef or lamb with Eggnog, a clasical Christamas cocktail made with milk, cream, eggs, vanilla and loads of brandy. If you haven’t whipped one yet, you must try making it this Christmas to celebrate and nurse the Xmas eve hangover.

This year, we are doing a Christmas brunch at Nido. Call us and book in advance and celebrate with the Chef.

Eggnog recipe

4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bourbon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg whites

In the bowl, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in colour.

Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg and stir to combine.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Serve chilled.

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