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DOWN IN THE GALLEY

Oriana 1974

On joining the great steamship Oriana I was lucky to be appointed Junior Catering Assistant Purser. I loved catering and had spent all my spare time since leave school and during college working in hotel kitchens in the English Lake District so had quite a good culinary grounding to go with my management qualification from college. Of course, this was just the beginning and I had to start from scratch once I had joined the large white luxury liner, Oriana.


Oriana had recently undergone a transformation from two class to one class. While passengers had the run of all the public rooms, bars, and ballrooms the big difference came when you went down to dinner. Passengers accommodated in the old second-class cabins dined in the Drake Restaurant, while the better cabins dined In the more glamourous Elizabethan Restaurant, with its red carpet and rich wooden finishes.

Enjoying dinner in Oriana's Elizabethan restaurant with David the Maitre'd and some of the section waiters.


By contrast the Drake Restaurant - Previously the 2nd Class Restaurant


The storerooms were the domain of storekeeper Norman. Norman had been in place since the Oriana slipped down the slipway in Barrow in Furness, or so it seemed. It was very much Norman’s domain and he took minimum leave. When I joined Oriana, you could see Norman raise his eyebrows as much as to say another clueless wonder. Thankfully Norman and I hit it off and he was a great help to this clueless wonder getting to grips with the wonders of the Kalamazoo food cost control system, remember no computers in those days.



The storerooms were the domain of storekeeper Norman. Norman had been in place since the Oriana slipped down the slipway in Barrow in Furness, or so it seemed. It was very much Norman’s domain and he took minimum leave. When I joined Oriana, you could see Norman raise his eyebrows as much as to say another clueless wonder. Thankfully Norman and I hit it off and he was a great help to this clueless wonder getting to grips with the wonders of the Kalamazoo food cost control system, remember no computers in those days.


The galley was not without its problems, open any trunking door and it would be crawling with cockroaches, these were constantly sprayed but the little beggars soon became immune to the mixture. I remember as a purser cadet visiting a laboratory in Briton street Southampton where their sole purpose was to develop new cockroach treatments.


In another incident, I was sent to the galley by BKM the 5’19” deputy purser to keep an eye on what was happening at the plate wash. Hundreds of dinner plates were disappearing with new ones having to be drawn from stores. We wondered if they were getting broken. Not the case, the pot wash men were hurling them out of the porthole instead of washing them. The plate wash was also a nightmare when in American waters making sure they complied with US Health regulations. Very often they broke down causing even more problems.











Oriana Lunch Menu from1973


Another duty for the Catering Assistant Purser was to carry out Galley Tours for passengers. I see that nowadays these tours are given but the passengers have to pay a hefty amount for them. Back in the day they were free and usually consisted of about 12 passengers and were carried out in the middle of the afternoon when the galley was at its quietest. On one cruise I had the pleasure of showing a lady around who was a lecturer at Grenville Catering College in Sheffield. She reciprocated by inviting me to visit the college for lunch and a tour. I visited during one of my shore leaves and arrived early in the morning to be given a white coat and head covering and ended up with her students making croissants in one of her classes. I later had an excellent lunch with her and the college principal.


Peter was the very bronzed butcher. Along with Chris the 2nd officer, they were the biggest posers on the ship. I worked alongside Peter and storekeeper Norman often checking stores arriving at the ship, on one occasion until 5.00am on the Pier in San Francisco. Peter invited me down to the butcher's shop one evening where the Goanese butchers had prepared a chow pot, a very hot Goan curry. OMG, it was so fiery.


On another occasion, the other assistant pursers on the ship were having a party and I was not invited, which was very unusual. It turned out that Peter had provided them with a whole fillet of beef that they were cooking in an electric frying ban in one of their cabins. They did not want this fact getting back to BKM my boss the Catering Deputy Purser. So I was left off the guest list.



Oriana's Elizabethan Restaurant ready for service




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