Chef’s Corner with Thomas Ulrich of Coral Princess
In September, journeyPod had the absolute pleasure of sailing the sea of the geographically-inspiring Alaskan coast with Princess Cruises. What an adventure! This isn’t Sarah Palin’s Alaska, we’ll tell you that! The scenery, the landmarks, the outdoors was something to marvel over. And the cruise, don’t get us started… onboard, journeyPod was treated like emperors and empresses, where we dined within the traditional, speciality, casual and ‘anytime’ restaurants onboard. Princess Cruises’s chefs are true culinary geniuses and artists who insist on serving only the finest cuisine that even little princes would enjoy. No matter what genre of food, we were impressed. This explains how and why the entire fleet was inducted into the prestigious Chaîne des Rôtisseurs gastronomic society!
Our onboard Chef Thomas Ulrich took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the galley and spoiled us with unforgettable dishes and impeccable service. We even got to experience Ulrich’s expertise first-hand, as we strapped on our chef’s coat (literally and physically) and headed into the kitchen to assist the culinary mastermind and chat for a few moments…
Chef Thomas, how did you get your start in cooking?
I grew up in a hotel, always lived in hotels with mum and dad, running them. After school I would go to the kitchen, with my homework. I remember sitting in the Chef’s office and some of the sous chefs would help me with my school work when I was a young lad. So yeah, it was a natural progression…was never given much choice of what I’m going to be. My mum always said if you want to see the world, the best chance would be to learn to be a cook and that would take you places.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of working in a hotel vs. working on a ship?
Hotels are set in a routine, you work 8 hours, come home & switch off –I would say that’s the good thing. The bad thing about a hotel is you have to squeeze everything into one shift. It’s more stressful, more issues with employees, and you are much more involved with hiring and firing – the positive thing on a ship is that you have nothing to do with this. On a ship you embrace the crew, look after each employee and make sure they make it. There’s a lot of training involved, but the good thing is you have all day to do this.
How would you describe the cuisine onboard?
The cuisine is made to suit the American market with influences from all different countries.
What 3 things can’t you cook without?
Fresh bones to make the basic stock, fresh produce and a good imagination.
Is there anything you won’t eat?
I eat everything for the sake of trying. I won’t eat shark fin soup or any whale product.
For your “Last Supper” what would you order?
A nice home-cooked lamb roast
If you found yourself in a British pub, what would you order?
Bangers and Mash or a pie.
What advice would you give a cooking enthusiast?
When you start cooking, make a little plan of what you need and what you want to see on the plate so you don’t have to run away in the middle of it. Make everything fresh, for example, cut chicken, take out bones, use bones for chicken stock, reduce stock for a sauce and take your time, never rush.
Executive Chef Thomas Ulrich was born in the town of Lucerne in Switzerland. His parents were hoteliers and Thomas experienced the rigors of a professional kitchen at an early age. He often assisted with preparation in the hotel’s kitchen and demonstrated a culinary aptitude which gained him the respect of the kitchen team. After graduating from high school, Thomas completed a diploma in modern languages and business at Estavayer-le-lac and embarked on a 3 year chef’s apprenticeship in a family hotel in the Bernese Alps. He worked at several hotels and restaurants in Switzerland before joining Swissair. His career has led him to Turkey, New Zealand and Australia.
Thomas has held the position of Executive Chef for 25 years and has worked for several exclusive hotels and resorts including Hilton, Sheraton, Park Royal and Inter-Continental. He has had the honor of being the culinary host of the 2000 & 2001 Australian Tennis Open held in Melbourne. Since joining Princess Cruises in 2003, Thomas has served on several ships including the Fairstar, Fair, Sea, Sun, Dawn, Island, Pacific and currently the Coral Princess.
When home in Australia where he has lived for the past 20 years, Thomas enjoys family outings with his wife and two daughters often entertaining friends with an exciting menu depending on what he finds at the local market.
Book your unforgettable Alaskan cruise with Princess today!