Tim is a passionate and experienced cook that has been working in the maritime catering industry for many years. Right now he is passing on his knowledge to our clients’ catering crew, working as Catering Superintendent for IFS. We sat down with Tim to have a chat about him and what he does.

Tell us a little bit about your background.

Tim: "I have been working as a Camp Boss and Chief Cook for 12 years. Before sailing, I worked in the hospitality industry. I worked in various restaurants, from pancake houses to star restaurants, doing all sorts of work: as a dishwasher, floor staff, pastry chef and as a cook."

If someone asks you what you do for a living, what do you tell them?

Tim: "I tell them that, in a nutshell, I go on board our clients’ vessels and offer training and support to their staff. Of course, there is a lot more to the job."

Describe a typical working day for you at IFS.

Tim: "Working for IFS, no day is ever the same. That is also what makes my job interesting. One week, I am traveling to ports all over the world to go on board. I am being called for stock-taking, audits or to offer training and support to the catering crew. The next week, I might be working from the office, creating dishes for the IFS Cooking App and preparing menu plans for our clients. We have re-started our IFS Chief Cook’s Course in the Maritime Food Lab in Belgium, where I also work as a training instructor. "

What was your most memorable experience on board?

Tim: "This was on board a Construction Support Vessel near the port of Manila. We were asked to renew her galley (i.e. the ship’s kitchen). This meant I had to support the catering department in upgrading all galley equipment, implementing new procedures and providing training to the entire galley crew. My most memorable experience was at the end of my visit, when we had a barbecue and enjoyed the sunset while dolphins were swimming alongside the vessel. I could not think of a better way to end a job well done."

What is an important quality for a Chief Cook?

Tim: "The most important quality for a Chief Cook is something that cannot be trained: passion. I strongly believe passion is something you can taste. If people are passionate about catering on board, it will show in all aspects of their work. The entire galley will be spotless, food will taste better and the crew will be happier. When I embark on a ship and do my introductions, the cook’s level of passion already becomes apparent from the bridge. Since food made with passion will have an impact on the entire vessel."

“The most important quality for a Chief Cook is something that cannot be trained: passion.”

What is the most challenging and rewarding aspect of your role?

Tim: "For me, the most challenging part about maritime catering is keeping all crew members happy. Compared to working at a restaurant, cooking on board is something else entirely. Especially for large crews, there are many dietary restrictions, preferences, religions and nationalities we need to take into account. I try to overcome this challenge by listening to the feedback of all crew members and to offer a lot of variety in meals. What I find most rewarding may sound very cliché, but I get the most fulfillment when I sign off and leave behind a happy crew. Healthy nutritious food is essential for the seafarer’s physical health but it also plays a vital role in supporting their wellbeing. That’s why it is my duty and commitment to make eating in the messroom something to look forward to."

Finally, what do you do in your free time?

Tim: "I love being outdoors and going carp fishing. When I am not working, you will most likely find me at a lake or pond."