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Chef Romel Caibal’s Culinary Odyssey on the Legendary Sea Cloud

Chef Romel CaibalChef Romel Caibal

Aboard the legendary Sea Cloud, a three-masted marvel carving through the Caribbean’s azure waters, WAWW editors Veronica Kholbecker and Andrea Maslovar embark on a luxurious voyage. But they found more than spacious decks and elegant living quarters – a culinary odyssey led by the gifted Filipino chef, Romel Caibal.

Caibal’s journey is as rich and textured as the dishes he crafts. Starting his career in the galley’s humblest role, he has risen to become the mastermind behind Sea Cloud’s exceptional gastronomic offerings. His dedication to clean cooking methods, the inventive use of local produce, and an unyielding pursuit of culinary perfection ensure every meal aboard this floating palace is a celebration. But Caibal’s ambitions reach even higher than the ship’s towering masts; he dreams of collaborating with Michelin-starred chefs to infuse Sea Cloud’s menu with world-class sophistication.

Early Inspirations and Culinary Journey

After graduating, I started working at Intel in the Philippines. But I craved a new challenge, so at 19, I took a leap of faith and joined a ship as a dishwasher. That’s where my culinary journey truly began.

Thanks to a fantastic mentor from Germany, I gradually learned different aspects of cooking. His name was Mike Elbridge, a well-known chef who had been featured in magazines. He became a role model for me. Mike treated me like a brother and pushed me beyond my limits, training me despite my lack of culinary experience. Now, I strive to inspire others and encourage them to dream big, just like he did for me.

Chef Romel Caibal
Chef Romel Caibal

About Clean Cooking

Clean cooking is about using fresh, high-quality ingredients. I often rely on spices from Italy to enhance flavours instead of using salt. We use a wide variety of spices, and our sommelier, Roger, who has been with us for 25 years, selects the perfect wine pairings to complement our dishes. I always consult with Roger to ensure the wine perfectly complements the food.

Challenges of Being a Chef on a Luxury Yacht

Our job is to surprise guests every day with new and exciting dishes. We create daily menus, but sourcing ingredients can be difficult, especially in the Caribbean. To make the dining experience unique and memorable, I incorporate local dishes, featuring fresh fish like mahi-mahi or tuna depending on the weather and availability. While sourcing isn’t the biggest challenge, the long hours are. We start working at 7 a.m. and often finish around 10 p.m., with a short break in the afternoon.

Evenings are spent planning the next day’s menu, combining local Caribbean flavours with what our guests expect. Creativity and hard work are essential for success in this profession.

Chef Romel Caibal

Dreams and Future Goals

My dream is to work with Michelin-starred chefs to hone my skills and talent. It’s a common aspiration for many chefs, even if it’s just in a supporting role. Continuous learning and improvement are my driving forces. While the quality of the food served on Sea Cloud is already exceptional, I’m always looking for ways to push the boundaries.

Advice for Aspiring Chefs

Never stop dreaming. Work hard and give your all. Dreams are free, and if you set your sights high, you will achieve them, even if it takes time. I always tell aspiring chefs to think big and aim high, because with dedication, they will reach their goals.

ABOUT SEA CLOUD

The Sea Cloud is a sailing cruise ship with a storied past, originally built in Kiel, Germany, as a barque for Marjorie Merriweather Post and her second husband Edward F. Hutton in 1931. The yacht’s interiors were personally designed by Post, who even took a course in marine engineering to ensure her vision was perfectly realised. Throughout its history, the Sea Cloud has served various roles, including as a weather ship for the United States Coast Guard and Navy during World War II, notably becoming the U.S. military’s first racially integrated warship.

Today, owned by Sea Cloud Cruises of Hamburg, Germany, and sailing under the Malta flag, the Sea Cloud has been transformed into a luxury cruise liner. She continues to sail the seas as an active superyacht.

https://www.seacloud.com/en/

Edited by Elena Leo