Interview with Executive Chef German Rijo – Savor Your Destination culinary cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse – Part 2
As Executive Chef of the Eclipse, Chef Rijo wears many hats. He manages his culinary team, budgets, menus and numerous galleys. He is also part entertainer for the culinary events on board the ship, having to appear at most of these events with a major role. I might add that he is quite good at it and knows how to work a crowd. It is still, however, very important to this chef, to find time to get in the galley and work with his culinary team.
We spoke to Rijo about changes that he has seen over the years in the guest’s dining requirements. One major change is the number of passengers who now have special dietary needs, allergies or requests. They have one station to handle all the food for these passengers to ensure their requests are fulfilled.
Celebrity Cruises have always been known for their excellent food and service and continuing this tradition is the responsibility of Chef Rio and his team. With rising food prices and more demanding patrons, it is a hefty job to fill.
When asked about the changes in their guest’s palate since Chef Rio started with Celebrity, he said that many passengers are more sophisticated diners than they used to be. They are more open-minded when it comes to dining options (and enjoy restaurants like Qsine, with it’s small plates and global offerings), however, they are also a bit more discriminating and are looking at the details. There is a real desire by the entire staff to ensure the dining experience on board exceeds expectations.
We were able to tour several galleys on board the Eclipse. The galley tour for Moonlight Sonata was quite fascinating. There is one wall of photos of each dish that will be served during a particular 16 day cruise. The photographs are accompanied by a complete description of all of the components of the dish and how it is to be composed. Once again, this ensures consistency throughout the cruise and on other ships.
How does a chef top this experience and a life at sea after 20 plus years (of going around and around…and around and around again and again and again…!)? Chef Rio would like to open up a small restaurant of his own some day in either New York or Miami. He envisions something similar in concept to their casual restaurant on board the Eclipse, Bistro on Five. He would like to start with something simple and go from there. He said it worked for Daniel Boulud, so maybe it will work for him. 😉
After meeting this man and seeing him in action for a week on board the ship, I think there is a television career in Chef Rio’s future.
Thank you so much to Chef Rijo for taking time out of his hectic schedule to meet with us. It was truly a pleasure.
Disclosure – We received a media package from Celebrity Cruises to experience the Savor the Destination culinary cruise. I am not compensated in any way for any articles written about the trip and the opinions expressed are my own.
What a wonderful post! The pictures are beautiful Gwen. And if I were to wish myself away right now, it would be on a Celebrity cruise to the Caribbean! I would much rather make 16000 glasses of wine a day than cook the food 😉
Thank you. It was a delightful trip and Chef Rijo was a real pleasure to meet. He has quite the job!
I have to agree with you that making wine would be easier than all that cooking and I bet that you do “make” a large number of glasses of wine on some days at the winery. I think you actually “create” the wine. I like that better. 🙂
My dear woman! What a production it takes to prepare all that food! I’ve always been curious to learn more about the people behind the scenes on cruises, and it seems like Chef Rijo is an amazing leader for his crew. Thank you for sharing with me…I feel tired tonight after baking three cakes…I can’t imagine how he does it!
The galleys are truly impressive on a ship this size. I don’t know how they do it day after day, but they seem to have it all figured out to a science.
Chef Rijo has a great sense of humor, so I am sure that is how he brings everyone together to handle the job. He was a lot of fun to meet.
Wow! This really gives you an idea of the size and scale for which staff on a ship must prepare. This is an eye opener – it’s hard to imagine doing that every day of the year!
I agree. We fuss about preparing dinner every night and then you look at these chefs who cook at this magnitude…who can complain now?!
It was definitely interesting to see the galleys, the prep and how organized it all is.
Wow! I just want to do a backstroke in their dessert “aisle” or would that be “isle”????? Giggles Happy New Year Gwen!
LOL! There are plenty of desserts on board. No one would ever go hungry on this ship. 🙂
Ugh…tried leaving a comment and lost all the contents. Trying again –
What a great write-up Gwen! Informative and great supporting images. I’ve enjoyed two cruises and I don’t think I gave it a second thought about all the planning that goes into the fantastic food that some cruises serve (that was before the TC blog). Love that menu board – very impressive.
Happy New Year 2012 to you and Mr. Bunky. I hope we’ll be able to meet up this year some time and catch up. 🙂
I am sure most people don’t really think about what goes on behind the scenes and how much work and staff is involved in putting out all of the meals each and every day while on board the ship. The fact that they do it all so well is a real testament to Chef Rijo and his team. We were very impressed.
We hope to see you this year, too! It’s been too long.
hello! I really like the why you wright and the information, I was at Eclipse Last year in Augost and it was my first cruise, im a pastry chef myself and i meet the executive pastry chef (Candido from Portugal) and when he explain to me the organisation and the system in place. I simple had no words what this chefs do is extraordinary and i would love to congratulate all of them! thank you Gwen
Thank you for your comment. The work the chefs do on board is truly spectacular. The buffets that were prepared during our cruise were really beautiful and the meals we had excellent. Celebrity has a very nice culinary program and Chef Rijo does a particularly impressive job with his team.
I had no idea the prep and production that went into each day.. great interview. Wow 16,000..
There are some pretty staggering numbers for food preparation on these larger ships. It makes cooking for a dinner party look really simple. 😉
hrmno exelente reportage
mi hemno lo felicito ere lo mejor de berda
Would like to tell that I had a pleasure to meet this extraordinary man and work with him. So proud of his job and so happy about him.
Nice, very nice article.
Good job Rijo
and would you be so kind to tell me at wich ship he works now,?.I would be very thankfull.
Thank you for your comment. I do not know which ship Rijo is on now. It is also possible that he returned home after so many years of travel. If you contact Celebrity, they may be able to tell you.
I just sent German a message and he replied. He is still on board the beautiful Eclipse. 🙂
I worked with Chef German Rijo on the Celebrity Eclipse. …Nice memoirs about beautiful time…Thanks for everything,Dear Boss!)))Let’s God bless You! )))
Thank you for leaving a comment. I am glad that you enjoyed reading the article. I know Chef Rijo will be pleased to see your comments as well.
I worked with Chef German Rijo for several years……….
learnt soo many things from him
A great chef with well balenced personality
He is a inspiration and good mentor for young chefs
Thank you Gwen good Article about chef Rijo
Thank you for your comments, Vijay. The job Chef Rijo does on board the Eclipse is impressive and I am sure he is a great inspiration to many who work with him on the ships.
thank you so much for information :). I’ll try to contact him through the Eclipse. mail.
All the best,
chef german rijo,:great personality and outstanding leader,mentor…..no word to use in my vocabulary. hope one-day he will show up and tell me: malik (my nick name) treat me with your creation….i am waiting for that moment to arrive…this would be greatest moment of my professional career. stay blessed chef.
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