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Preparing Your Gluten-Free Menu for a Cruise

I am a chef so misspelled words, terrible grammar is what you will get...but I am one of the best of best when it comes to food. Now that you have reserve your sitting seat for your cruise and have received the menus from your ship it is time to prepare what you are going to eat. I am using a menu from Carnival Cruise Line because that is the ship we sail on--I only have great things to say about them.

For this teaching course I am using a web site that they said contains the menus for Carnival.When you book a cruise make sure you get the menus right from your ship, as you don't want to come to the ship with the wrong menus that somebody else said will work--so all your work is wasted.

As regular guests we want to be extra full too. That is the funniest part isn't it? Later I will talk about who in the kitchen will be cooking or preparing your meal as we sit down for a meal. This is how a kitchen works in a resort setting or cruise setting so you can understand how you can try to choose your meal. Each area of the kitchen is responsible for the meal,  pantry is in charge of all the cold food, fruits, cold shrimp, smoked salmon, salads, salad dressings, slicing vegetables for salads or tomatoes for hamburgers.

Butcher: He prepares the meats for the chefs, if he needs to pound medallions or cut fish in to chunks for seafood new berg, prepare ducks or chickens make steaks out of loins. Not all kitchens have butchers but if they don't an area chef will have to prepare the meat so it can be grabbed by the chef who cooks your meal.

Bakery: this area cooks all the rolls, cookies, pies, cakes, pastries, desserts and even pastry for some of the meals if it is needed.

Sousa: This chef is going to make all the soups and sauce's that are needed for the day. He also makes sure there is plenty of beef, fish and chicken stocks for the area chefs if they need it. Again sometimes this chef is worked into the area chef but, as before, at the beginning of the day he must get prep ready for a meal.

Area Chef: They are the one who is preparing the meals. The saute chef works with pans on the grill to saute the meal. The broiler chef is the one broiling a meal if it is steak, chicken or seafood. This chef will use the broiler. There is a chef who is in charge of the vegetables and potatoes for the meal. Each area chef knows what he is cooking for the dinner menu that night and they come in and start prepping there food in order to have it ready for 600 to 1,000 plates--whatever the head chef tells them to do.

Sous Chef: In my trips on the high seas this is the chef who was in charge of my meal and also all special diets. The sous chef is usually 2nd in charge and very smart so it is good to have this chef cooking  your meal. So what happens is when the sous chef comes in he is going to look at your menu and go to each area chef and take what is needed for your meal before it is put into the nights meal. For example if we order sauted seafood with white wine, lemon zest and a butter sauce thickened with corn starch or arrow root, over plain white rice. On the menu for this night the meal is seafood new berg on a bed of pasta, which we can't have because of the flour and the lobster base and who knows what else. This chef will grab some seafood before that area chef cooks it all up for that night's menu, and then when you come in he will take your seafood and cook it for you.

I hope this helps you to understand how the kitchen works because this is your greatest advantage in eating gluten-free on a cruise. This is usually only for the dinner meal--lunch and breakfast we will discuss later.

Now for the meal. Your sitting at home looking at this menu they sent you for day one:

day 1
Tropical Fruits, Marinated with Lime Juice and a Touch of Tequila

Hickory Smoked Alaskan Salmon
Garnished with Purple Onion Rings, Fresh Dill and Baby Capers

Grilled Satay of Chicken Tenderloin
served with a zesty Peanut Butter Sauce

Beef & Barley Soup with Diced Root Vegetable

Asparagus Veloute
served over Oyster Bearnaise

*Gazpacho Andalouse
chilled Tomato broth with diced plum tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and

Mediterranean herbs
(76 caloies 5 grams fat)

*Mixed Garden & Field Greens
tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots with choice of dressing
(44 calories, 5 grams fat)

Hearts of Romaine Lettuce with Cherry Tomatoes
tossed with a creamy ranch dressing

Pappardelle with Sauteed Langoustino Tails
Wide italian pasta in a tomato broth with Pistou
(also available as a starter)

Pan Seared Filler Of Tilapia
herb butter sauce with tomato and shallot confit and eggplant tapenade

Sweet & Sour Shrimp
tiger shrimps in a tangy sweet and sour sauce served with oriental

fried rice

*Chicken a la Grecque
grilled boneless chicken breast with herbs and tomato confit
virgin olive oil and basil oil
(324 calories, 9 grams fat)

Duet of New Zealand Lamb
braised lamb shank and tender roasted loin boulangere potatoes hearts

and olives

Grilled, Aged New York Sirloin Steak with three Peppercorn Sauce
onion-tomato condiment, balsamic glazed potatoes, sauteed green beans

& Mushrooms

Indian Vegetarian Dinner
figs kabab, homemade cottage cheese, cumin flavored basmati ice pilaf
red lentils tempered with herbs and spices

I make a form paper that I give out every day that explains in detail how to cook my meal and not to vary in any way or I will get very ill.  It also tells the chef to not add any spices, garnish or not to CROSS CONTAMINATE WITH DIRTY TONGS OR CLOTH.  It also states to always use fresh tongs, forks and even very clean plates (you don't want a chef to grab your plate from another station which has breaded chicken crumbs already on it). By using the same form each day the chef knows that I am very very concerned about my health and he will be too.

For example, the day one menu Starter course could be: CHOOSE ONE:
  • A.fresh medley of fruit with lime juice and a touch of Tequila..I play it safe cause the tropical fruit might be canned.
I would skip the salmon because they usually marinate it before it is smoked and it could have something you don't want.
  • B. Saute' chicken tenderloin in olive oil splash with white wine and lemon or top with sesame seeds.
I would not do a soup because it is too risky and I want to be in full control of my meal.

For my salad I don't like lettuce only cause they use the bagged lettuce which has chemicals in it and I can't be 100% it doesn't have gluten so for each meal I ask for a whole cucumber and a some cherry tomatoes. I ask for it whole to make 100% they don't cut it on a cutting board or use a knife that has gluten on it...CROSS CONTAMINATION...but if you do go with the salad bring your own salad dressing--they won't mind.

Main Course
choose one.

  • A. The first one there I am not sure about. I assume it is pasta with a muscle of some sort, but keep it in mind.
  • B. Keep the ingredients in mind--you could use the eggplant for your meal if you wanted--your chef would grab it before it is turned into something else.
  • C. Sweet and sour shrimp, Saute shrimp in olive oil and pull to side. Deglaze with white wine and add pineapple juice splash of orange juice then add apple cider vinegar tighten up with cornstarch and water and add orange zest and finish with saute shrimp.
  • D.  Same as the starter course..Saute chicken with wine and lemon or maybe as you might like.
  • E. Make a Medellin of the lamb fine pounded. Saute or broil on a freshly clean grill serve with fresh container of mint jelly un open on the side.
  • F. Grill steak on a clean brushed broiler and serve with un-open steak sauce hopefully A-1. Maybe you want surf and turf...since they are serving shrimp also you can ask for some sauted shrim with your steak--as long as it is on this menu you can ask for it and the chef will get it. So have surf and turf.
For your vegetables you could use the eggplant from the other meal or any fresh vegetables...I tell them to microwave them in a bowl with plastic on top. I also ask for my rice microwaved--or even the potatoes--that way it is not going to be cross-contaminated.

For dessert I found it very easy to ask for the same thing for dinner. Because of the area dessert is made with flour and gluten flying all over. If they make one large batch and serve it to me every night there is less chance of cross-contamination. So when I go I ask for chocolate moose with fresh whiped cream on it. Since a moose is just whiped cream no harm there.

Now you want to prepare all  your dinner menus like this. Take each meal and break it down like you want it to be serves. Put it on the same form so they will know it is you. When you do get on board the ship the dining room is  your first stop to set up your meals.

I will talk about breakfast and lunch later.
Chef Daniel P.

As always, welcomes your comments (see below).

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2 Responses:


said this on
25 Mar 2008 7:16:28 AM PST
Very interesting to see you rework the menu using the available ingredients. I never thought to do that. Would the 'Indian Vegetarian Menu' be a possibility?

Chef Daniel
( Author)
said this on
25 Mar 2008 8:19:59 AM PST
A comment was asked about the Indian Vegetarian Dinner... any fresh vegetables are easy as we all know I would ask them to make sure if they broil the kabobs then to scrap the broiler and the home made cottage cheese. Some cottage cheeses may have wheat in them and you are taking a very large gamble unless you politely in your meal the day before ask for the chef preparing your meal to call you with the ingredients or ask to see the cottage container to see its ingredients--don't ask to see it during your meal as they are very busy and you don't want to upset them..ask to come back at a quiet time and look. I like my vegetables, beans, rice and potatoes cooked separately in the microwave that way no bases are added like they might for the regular crowd. Name your spices like basil, oregano, salt and pepper if you want some mixed spices that they might put in like lawry salt might have gluten. I hope that answers your comment.

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