Culinary career is oceans of fun

Marine Logistics Chef Able Seaman Ashleigh Beaman. Picture: Elle Borgward www.communitypix.com.au d410883
Marine Logistics Chef Able Seaman Ashleigh Beaman. Picture: Elle Borgward www.communitypix.com.au d410883

But for the 22-year-old marine logistics chef, who is currently stationed at HMAS Stirling, it is all part of the job.

AS Beaman has just completed her apprenticeship, working as many as 67.5 hours a week to feed her colleagues.

The rotating team of 20 qualified and 20 apprentice chefs feed around 200 staff for breakfast, 300 to 400 for lunch and 200 for dinner.

The must-haves for a happy workforce? Steak and chips and spaghetti bolognaise.

However, her latest challenge is working on the spectacular salad bar.

‘I don’t burn myself as much, it’s great!’ she said.

‘At shore we do a breakfast, lunch and dinner and when we’re at sea we also do a fourth meal which is called midnighters,’ she said.

‘That’s for people who do night watch, so they have the ability to still have three meals a day.’

Her last ‘sea ride’ was a three-month stint on HMAS Tobruk, which visited New Caledonia (Noumea), and Auckland and Napier in New Zealand, and while it’s a ‘lot more work’ than being on shore, it’s great fun.

‘We did split shifts, so we did 12 on, 12 off and changed over at 1,’ she said.

‘You’d be up at 1am and for that day the previous watch would have already prepped brekkie, so you’d cook breakfast, someone would cook lunch and then you’d prep dinner.

‘Then another watch would come in and cook dinner, prep all your spuds and everything for the next day.

‘We prep about 12 hours in advance. You’re just helping the next watch out, because if they don’t provide what you need then everyone is working twice as hard.’

A rocking boat tends to be the biggest hazard for oceangoing chefs, who have to be careful where they put their equipment.

‘I’ve had a few pans fall out of the cupboard when the latches didn’t work.’ she said.

‘The deep fryer is probably the worst, when you’re frying stuff and the whole thing moves, that makes you a bit queasy.’

Despite that, she says she ‘can’t wait’ to get back on a ship, but rotations depend on the number of female bunks available.