By Beverly Beyette
January 24, 2010
And executive chef Ivo Jahn, 39, oversees the ship's 24 dining venues and the 235 cooks and five executive sous chefs who make the magic happen.
As Jahn and I toured the vast stainless-steel main galley, we passed heaping trays of pasta and potatoes, giant bags of onions, big bins of peppers, lettuce, mushrooms and carrots, boxes of melons. He pointed out a machine that chops 900 pounds of romaine in an hour and an oven that bakes 7,000 cookies at a time.
Some of those cookies are sugar-free. Jahn's dinner menus also include healthy options (800 calories for three courses), as well as a vegetarian option -- the latter the choice of about 2% of diners.
The most popular menu item? "Beef," he said, "but 6 or 7 ounces, not 10 or 12 ounces." Also in demand: "Anything deep fried."
Each of the dining venues has its own galley, cooks and wait staff. "It's not just one big pot and everybody gets a ladle out of the pot," said Frank Weber, Royal Caribbean's vice president of food and beverage. If Giovanni's Table needs, say, chopped onions, it puts in a requisition and sends someone to pick up those onions from the main galley, load them on a trolley, and wheel it along an out-of-sight passageway to Giovanni's.
To keep abreast of trends, Weber looks at "what's hot in the restaurant industry, how we can compete with Las Vegas."
"Guests today are asking for more options," he said. An Asian concept is a necessity, and "a steakhouse always works," he noted. Cupcakes are trendy, so the Oasis has a cupcake shop.
Another trend: "People don't necessarily want to get dressed up and go through a full menu sequence," he said. "In a way, it's too bad." Still, he thinks formal nights are here to stay, though he did notice that after formal night on the Oasis people hurried to change into casual wear.
Only about 30% of Royal Caribbean guests choose My Time Dining, which allows flexibility on time and table. "Many of our guests still like the assigned table, the assigned waiter," Weber said.
One thing never changes. There are always passengers eating around the clock, keen on "getting their money's worth," as Weber put it. They can repent by hitting Oasis' state-of-the-art fitness center or jogging track. Morale-boosting signs spotted overhead along the track include this: "Tonight's dessert can be guilt free."
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