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Stephane Coutouly, the food and beverages director on Celebrity Infinity.

JD Lasica / Special to Cruiseable

Stephane Coutouly, the food and beverages director on Celebrity Infinity.

Hands on with Celebrity Infinity's food & beverage personnel

This is part two of a four-part series, Behind the scenes with Celebrity Infinity crew members. Also see:

Q&A with Celebrity Infinity's food & beverage director

What's your name?

Stephane Coutouly.

Where are you from?

I am from a little town in the south of France called Cannes.

What is your job on Celebrity Infinity?

I'm the Food and Beverage Director, overseeing the day-to-day operation and synchronization of the restaurant team, the bar team and executive chef and all the kitchen teams. On the ship that means 460 to 650 crew members.

And your main responsibilities?

Everything that affects guests' dining, drinks and provisions, especially the logistics of ordering 4-7 weeks in advance to make sure everything is coordinated.

Vegetable du Jatour: Art meets cuisine at Qsine aboard Celebrity Cruises.
Courtesy of Celebrity CruisesVegetable du Jatour: Art meets cuisine at Qsine aboard Celebrity Infinity. Coutouly says to also try the chicken kabob, ceviche and spring rolls.

I’ve seen photos of the food coming out of the Celebrity kitchens, and they're like works of art. How do you keep up the level of quality?

First, it's important to know that food and decor are important to Celebrity. Everything is made on board. It’s not like we get things that are pre-made and work around it. We have specific recipe books we need to follow from A to Z. We have daily tastings, so every time we open a restaurant, we do tastings of all the food we are serving.

Do you also work with some well known restaurateurs or celebrity chefs?

We have worked with celebrity chefs and with the James Beard Foundation. We’re very involved with chefs all over the world, as well as chefs in the U.S. — they give us advice and sometimes perform a contest. In collaboration with all the chefs on the ship and shoreside, they try to create a recipe that will be featured in cookbooks you see on the ship.

Celebrity has the same restaurants across many of your ships. How do you maintain consistency from ship to ship?

Celebrity has 10 ships, and we want to make sure the quality of the product is the same on each ship. Steak Diane or Chateaubriand or sole should be the same dishes with the same presentation. It comes down to training the chefs and the wait staff.

“On Celebrity Infinity we have 10,000 meals a day vs. 15,000 meals a day on the Solstice Class ships. On a lobster night, we'll serve 300 pounds of lobster for just one meal.”

Do you have a favorite dish on board?

If you want to go for cooking tableside, I would go to Murano for chateaubriand. We have lobster bisque with cream du cognac, we have venison, which is hard to get. We have a souffle that is amazing. If I feel like I want to travel around the world today and I go to Qsine, I can get chicken kabob, and ceviche, and spring rolls — there's great diversity. They are all amazing. It depends on your mood.

What about a great glass of wine?

Exactly! In all the restaurants, with all the dishes, you need the perfect wine pairing to make it magical. And Celebrity is well known for that, we have many awards from Wine Spectator.

How many meals are we talking about for a typical sailing? What are the numbers?

On Celebrity Infinity we have 10,000 meals a day vs. 15,000 meals a day on the Solstice Class ships. On a lobster night, we'll serve 300 pounds of lobster for just one meal.

What are your favorite ports of call?

I would say Santorini for sure. After tendering, you go there and have your fresh octopus, your seafood, you go to the top of the caldera and have a glass of ouzo. That’s  the No. 1 port. After that, I would say Malta is very beautiful.

What do you like best about working on a Celebrity ship?

There are two things I really like. Number one is the fast pace. Then, there is the diversity. For a culinary person, you try to get different spices and you put them together to make a nice dish. It is the same thing on a cruise ship. You have more than 60 nationalities on board and you work together to get this harmony. You won’t find that anywhere else.

 

Q&A with a waiter on Celebrity Infinity

Anjoid Fabian Hurst, a waiter aboard Celebrity Infinity.
JD Lasica / Special to CruiseableAnjoid Fabian Hurst, a waiter aboard Celebrity Infinity.

Hi. What's your name?

Anjoid Fabian Hurst.

Where are you from?

Ocho Rios in Jamaica.

What’s your job on the ship and how long have you been doing this?

I’m a waiter, and I’ve been working on Celebrity cruise ships for 13 years now.

What do you like about it?

I like just about everything, I guess. I like the pace. I like meeting new people. I have a lot of friends from all over the world, from South America and elsewhere.

How’s it different being a waiter on a ship versus on land?

On land, you don’t get to meet as many people, you don’t get to move as fast, and you don't get the same repeat guests. On land it's a bit of a slower pace, on a ship everything is even more organized.

On a ship as large as Celebrity Infinity, are you able to remember diners' preferences from night to night?

Yes. For instance, when ordering beef, guests need to just say medium rare the first time they order it, and I will remember. Who likes iced tea, who has milk with their coffee or cream. Their drinks and wine preferences.

Do you generally work one restaurant on a cruise, or move from place to place?

If you are working in one of our speciality restaurants, you just work in that restaurant. But if you’re working in the Trellis restaurant, the main dining room on board, you work in all of the different restaurants. Depending on the day I may be working in Bistro on 5 or the Oceanview Cafe.

When you're not working, how do you like to spend your time on the ship?

I have a girlfriend on board, so I like to buy two beers, sit down and talk. It’s a great time. You have activities all over the place and you interact with colleagues a lot.

What do you like to do in port?

Mostly I like to go shopping and have lunch. I’m not a beach guy.

Do you have a favorite port?

On this Alaska cruise, it is definitely Juneau. I have a lot of favorites. Ports in Chile in South America, Palermo in Italy. 

What do you like best about working on a Celebrity ship?

Everyone's treated fairly. Everybody has equal opportunities. There are lots of nationalities among the crew, and we all get along great.

JD Lasica
I'm co-founder, Editor and chief cat herder at Cruiseable. Follow your cruise bliss to any land where it may lead. Let's connect! I'm @jdlasica on Twitter.

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