Deadliest Catch: What Do They Do For Meals on Short Notice

Deadliest Catch: What Do They Do For Meals on Short Notice

Deadliest Catch: What Do They Do For Meals on Short Notice

It may be a no-brainer, but the truth is that short notice meals are the norm on Deadliest Catch ships. Captain Sig Hansen told a bit of what it’s like to try to eat on his boat, the Northwestern, when the crew is busy fishing. He told Miami New Times that it’s the fishing which dictates the meals, and that they don’t come at regular times. He said, “It’s hell.” The routine at sea is dictated by the sea. He’s had times when he and the crew were awake for two days straight, and even three and a half one time. They’ve been hungry and craving all the foods everyone else takes for granted. They’ve even run out of food and water. It’s not much different on the other ships in the fleet. Some have dedicated cooks, and some do not. On all of them, the biggest need is calories.

On the Early Dawn, Mike Fish does double duty as Engineer and cook. One one trip, he was filmed as he fixed a high calorie breakfast for the crew. He cooked 45 slices of bacon- more than two pounds. He made a giant omelet with 30 eggs, cheese and milk, plus veggies. Then, he started on French toast, putting more than 16 larges slices of French toast onto the griddle. He said that over the course of the week, they would use about 20 pounds of pork products, 16 gallons of milk, 50 pounds of potatoes, about 10 loaves of bread, and drink several gallons of apple juice and Gatorade every day.

On The Wizard, the deckhands admit their need to keep eating. It’s common to burn about 10,000 calories a day on a ship. Most guys look forward to a hot meal. But, on one run, they discovered that the fridge had gone out, the milk was warm, and the guys needed to watch what they were going to eat. The freezer seemed fine, and it was full of frozen pizza, ice cream and burritos. So, the guys turned to pop tarts, pickles, clam chowder, Oreos, and ice cream with chocolate sauce. They also foraged for just about anything in cans, boxed, or in the freezer. They had to eat, but now all they wondered was when the first case of food poisoning would hit.

On the Time Bandit, Captain Andy Hillstrand described the galley as being as good as in any home. It includes a stove, fridge, microwave, trash compactor and even a dishwasher. Neil Hillstrand does the cooking on board. Typical meals include turkey, spaghetti, steak and high carb meals.

When interviewed, most of the deckhands do not prefer diverse foods. Their staples on board are meat and potatoes meals. They like shake and bake meats, sausage and egg sandwiches, shepherd’s pie and lots of calories. The ships load on plenty of fresh produce before they set out to fish, and they do eat it, but some hands admit that after the first week, the produce tends to rot. Once that happens, they revert to freezer food. The ship freezers are usually packed wall to wall with microwavable foods because that’s the only thing they have time to eat. When things get busy, they often don’t have much more than a few minutes to eat. The stuff that nobody likes much is usually left for last, and then they end up eating it for days.

The job of cook is not the most luxurious, and most guys don’t want it. It’s difficult to cook in a ship’s galley, and even more difficult to keep deckhands happy about their food. That’s why it’s common to have guys doing double duty on board, with no one person dedicated to just cooking. That’s also why it’s common to have so many freezer foods which are easy to microwave. When the crew gets hungry they need calories to work, and they need them quickly.

Grilled cheese and tomato soup is one favorite of many deck hands. Some prefer that because its comfort food. The goal of most is to try to get in at least one good meal each day, if they can. When asked why they don’t eat the fish and other seafood that they return to the ocean, several deckhands have pointed to the problems associated with what they call waste-catch. Some are infested with worms, others are deformed. They avoid those items, and they don’t feast on crab daily. It’s too much work to prepare them. Sometimes they have them at the end of the run, just to celebrate. But, generally, most are so sick of fishing them that they don’t want to eat them. The most often go-to quick meal is a sandwich filled with lunch meat and cheese. The hands fix these themselves when there is no cook on board. They also have a fondness for cookies. Gotta have some dessert!

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