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Chef Paul Ellis, executive chef, Paul Gauguin Cruises

Photo by Ethan Chung

There might not be a better gig for someone who loves seafood than an executive chef of a cruise ship in French Polynesia. Paul Ellis is that someone. You might think that being stuck on a boat for days at a time, feeding hundreds of guests might hamstring his creativity, forcing his hand with dry or canned goods and bad produce. But that’s simply not the case when dining on the Paul Gauguin. “We are incredibly lucky to be in this area. Whenever we are in port, locals come up to us and sell us the freshest fish, everything from a hundred pound tuna to a 250 pound marlin, right there on the dock. It’s incredible. The most beautiful fish I’ve ever seen.”

According to Ellis, 95 percent of what’s served on the boat is made from scratch. That’s better than most land-based restaurants. His responsibilities as executive chef include monitoring the quality and standards of the food that come out of his kitchens, writing menus, ordering and tracking provisions and managing the 38 kitchen employees on the Paul Gauguin.

Being the executive chef of a cruise ship can have its challenges. He has to know exactly how much provisions to order, making sure to have enough for cruises while curtailing any waste. Ellis said that during a three week period, the ship will go through massive amounts of flour, butter (300-400 pounds a week), sugar (300 pounds a week) and eggs (he orders about 90 cases every week, with each case holding 15 dozen eggs.)

Check out this photo of Ellis demonstrating how to filet a delicious (but strange looking) moon fish.

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is a contributor to 425 magazine.
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