Crew fuel: food for thought
When it comes to fishing vessels, crew comfort has come a long way since boats crammed a dozen or more men in front of the mast, but galley design remains outside the usual service offerings of naval architects. .
“We don’t do the galleys,” John Waterhouse of Elliott Bay Design Group told NF. “There are people who specialize in that, and we are engaging with them.”
Fred Lillian, president of Galley Design and Sales, is one of the designers Elliott Bay Design Group works with. He transformed kitchen design into a multifaceted applied art form.
“The galley is really the heart of the ship,” says Lillian. “The engine keeps the ship moving, but the galley keeps the crew moving and the fishermen work hard. While a normal person might consume around 2,000 calories per day, someone coming off the bridge might consume up to 8,000 to 10,000 calories per day.
While galley design is sometimes considered out of the norm for naval architects, Lillian reveals the complexity and importance of a well-arranged food storage, preparation, consumption and cleaning system.
“Usually designers give us a space, and we have to work with it,” says Lillian. “There are so many things to consider in ship design, that we don’t object to that.” Lillian and her team just got down to designing a plethora of integrated systems that make up the kitchen.
“The kitchen is like a little factory,” adds Lillian. “It’s the heartbeat of the ship. We look at crew size and average trip length. Then we start thinking about bringing food on board and breaking it down for storage. Because everything has to come out. Additionally, Lillian considers where a boat is stocked and how the food arrives.
“We have to get creative with the space,” says Lillian. “For example, sometimes the footprint of a fridge and freezer space can have a sharp angle, so it’s something like a 4-foot span in a corner. Food can get lost there. Lillian has designed a step system that follows the outer shape of the shell and allows easy access to all areas of the cooling and freezing units. “We use the space for bulk meats, and things like that,” he says.
Lillian designed a container system for the bulk storage areas – dry storage, cooler and freezer. A series of lockers with see-through trays allow chefs and their support staff to access what they need when they need it.
“It allows them to practice the best protocols,” says Lillian. “First in, first out, so food doesn’t get lost in the bottom of a trash can.” While Lillian designs the storage spaces, they are fabricated by outside contractors he works with.
With the food storage covered, Lillian and her team head to the food preparation areas.
“There are two types of cuisine,” says Lillian. “You can cook large batches to deliver to a buffet, where the crew gets what they get; or a short order style so if you want a burger you can order a burger.
Kitchens designed by Lillian contain grills, hobs and microwaves, but the one piece of equipment he thinks every kitchen should have is a combi oven.
“The combi oven is smart technology that cooks in three modes,” he says. “It’s like your oven at home: you turn it on at 425 degrees and it gets hot. There is a fan which makes it a convection oven which is better for baking, but you can also steam cook. It can cook in all three modes or any combination thereof. You could broccoli, rice, and a protein on different shelves and have zero flavor cross-contamination and make each one perfect. And it’s easy.
Lillian notes that he also needs to think vertically. “Ceiling height is important,” he says. “You really need 85 inches, otherwise it limits what you can put in there for equipment.”
Lillian also designs the food flow for the crew and meals.
“The galley is the crew’s comfort zone,” says Lillian. “They only have maybe 30 or 40 minutes to get their food and eat it, so if we can make that easy it helps retain the crew.” Lillian recommends what he calls a scatter-system buffet, where if there’s a line in the hot appetizer section, there are other sections for salad and drinks, respectively, and l The crew can get what they need there rather than waiting in a single line to access everything.
Finally, a galley needs easy cleaning, and Lillian uses fairly standard systems where the crew passes trays of dirty dishes through a window in the scullery section of the galley.
Among the challenges of assembling a kitchen is the engineering of all the systems, especially the electrical and plumbing.
“We need to calculate each device and its power requirements,” says Lillian. The process of designing and remodeling a kitchen can take up to nine months, Lillian points out. “That’s why we like to have a master plan, so that we can work on the project over several periods when the ship is in the yard,” he says.