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Working in the kitches on the 'Queen Mary'

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Unique ID:19460
Description:A description of what it was like working in the kitchens on the great 'Queen Mary' 
Copyright:Southampton City Council
Partner:SCC Oral History Unit
Partner ID:M0049


Question:  Tell me about the kitchens on the Queen Mary, what were they like?

Well the kitchen was always a hive of activity and … the stewards used to come in from the dining room and go up to the various places that they want, such … such as the grill chef, he'd be there with a big roaring fire with the steaks on the grills and you'd have to say how you want your steak done and all like that.  That was presented to you on a silver salver with the cover on and you'd go along to the vegetable cook and say well so and so and so and so and you'd want new potatoes or Parmesan or you know this that and the other, whatever you wanted.  And eventually you'd complete your order and you'd take it down and put in on your dumb waiter and serve it … spoon and fork to your passenger.  In the meantime, your commis, or if you were the commis, you'd been out to the galley to go and get your next order or whatever it was.  And that's how they used to carry on.  But in the galley itself, everyone was in their own department.  There'd be the sauce cooks, the entrée cooks, the cold pantry, grill cooks, the roast chefs, there'd be all sorts and they'd all be on top of their job.  And overseeing the whole lot would be the actual chef, striding around with his big fat stomach and a big tall hat.  He'd be in charge, in complete charge.  And although it would seem like pandemonium there was hardly ever any hitches, everything was running smoothly, all well controlled.  Now and again you used to get little hiccoughs here and there, such as if the ship was rolling badly you might see things sliding about where they shouldn't be and all like that, and you might have a job to hang on to something to keep yourself from sliding but the actual mechanics of the kitchen worked very well and everyone was working quite smoothly with it and you had no problems.  If the … if the weather was particularly rough you used to put your fiddles up on your tables and you used to damp all your tablecloths, make all your tablecloths wet so that everything that went onto the table would stick on the wet rug and just slide off on a dry tablecloth.  So you had all these little things to think about.  All the chairs in the saloons were all on ties, they all had lanyards on them so they couldn't slide about.  In the days before a stabiliser these things had to be thought about.  But I've seen chairs break away in the dining saloon and passengers sit up in their chairs sliding from one side of the dining saloon to the other, you know, where they ... weren't so bad on those ships.


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