Living aboardSailing&Living

Cooking for a crew of 12

Cooking onboard can be challenging at times.

The boat is moving around and everything is moving with it. But you’re on duty in the galley and you have to feed all crew members, including the skipper. So what do you do when you learn that there will be twelve people onboard?

Get a large pot

Find out if there is a cooking pot large enough. Cooking for 12 people requires at least 10 liter cooking pot, in my experience. It is better to have a larger pot, to avoid spillage when the boat is keeling. Of course, you might not have to cook while under sail. 
When I cooked for our crew of twelve (including me), I made vegan bean chili.
It can be easily modified and prepared with canned beans and tomato sauce, which is good if you’re out on the sea and you’ve run out of fresh fruits and vegetables. 
Others cooked meals like risotto, spaghetti, meat stew. The key is to find a meal you can cook in one pot, in large amount. Rice, pasta, beans, or other dry starches are a great base – easy to cook, cheap, variable. Spices are a great way to make a meal more interesting, even if it has very few ingredients.
Another way to go is to make tapaz, tacos, burritos, or other highly customisable food. Pros of this kind of food is that you prepare variety of ingredients and everyone assembles their own meal.

Find out what they like

Ask your crew how spicy they like their food, if they are allergic to anything, or have any preferences regarding food. For example, certain foods can cause migraines to some people. It is better to ask rather than deal with a problem that could have been avoided.
In case of my chilli, I ended up making it as spicy as I could handle, because my crew mates could handle a lot more than I did. So when after tasting it my mouth was burning, I knew it was just right. 

Make someone else do the dishes…

If there is eleven people in the crew, you probably won’t be cooking alone. Talk to the crew mate who will be cooking with you, decide who should do what. Assign someone to wash the dishes, either one of people who cook, or other willing crew members.
Don’t do everything alone, cooking takes much longer on a boat (because of the preparations). One thing you don’t want to do, is to leave your crew hungry. 

Get inspired

After a while, you’ll figure out how to cook the most lavish feasts onboard. Yes, there can be days when provisions are low and uninspiring, so all you can do is some mush in a bowl, but you can still make it delicious! If you’re looking for some inspiration, look at other crews and their weird eating habits. : D
Onboard Sea Shepherd’s vessel, there is a mandatory vegan diet… except for occasional barbecues. Check out how their chef finds interesting ways to spice up the crew’s diet:

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