The table cloths were expertly laid on the tables to hold the plates and glasses securely in place. The china had never been eaten off of and the dinning rooms smelled of fresh paint. Waiters stood by ready to serve whilst cooks and professionally trained chefs prepared breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all 2,435 passengers on board the RMS Titanic.
By April 12th, 1912, Titanic was on her way across the Atlantic, powering toward New York.
In the kitchen were chefs J. Bochetez, Paul Mauge, Chester Proctor and P. Rousseau overseeing their team of 35 cooks as they prepared food for some 3,320 people, including passengers and crew.
As I’ve scoured over menus and the conditions under which these foods were prepared the feat of feeding over 3,000 people three times a day during the early 1900′s, on board a ship no less, is nothing short of extraordinary. I’ve worked on a team of 7 to 10 cooks preparing meals for dignitaries, guest numbers upward of a couple hundred and have felt completely overwhelmed. I can’t even imagine how these chefs felt!
Lunch for the 2nd Class dinning attendees was nothing short of a hearty menu. The kitchen staff prepared:
Spaghetti au Gratin
Corned Beef, Vegetable Dumplings
Baked Jacket Potatoes
And this large of a lunch menu was prepared for a mere 674 passengers, never mind the 735 passengers in First Class or the 1026 passengers in Third Class.
As a cook I am captivated by the level of food service that happened on a daily basis on board this extraordinary ship. Personally, I don’t particularly imagine passengers eating as much as I imagine the cooks banging their pots and pans about as they prepared dishes, the inevitable cursing that is associated with all kitchens, all in the name of providing luxuries meals for often viewed ungrateful guests. To even have been a bus boy would have been a fantastic ride, I think- well at least until the inevitable.