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Meet the team: Nevil Heredia

22/09/2016

We talk to P&O Cruises Executive Chef Nevil Heredia, the man responsible for your amazing dining experiences on board Oceana, about the job he loves and his passion for great food

P&O Cruises Executive Chef Nevil Heredia

P&O Cruises Executive Chef Nevil Heredia has worked for P&O Cruises for 25 years

How long have you worked for P&O Cruises?

I have been with P&O Cruises since January 1992, so this is my 25th year with the company. The first ship I ever worked on was Canberra, as an assistant to the chef. Since then I’ve worked on the majority of ships in the fleet.

 

What made you want to become a chef?

My mother has always been such a huge source of inspiration. As a young boy growing up in Goa, India, I used to always watch and wonder at how she created those wonderful and delicious dishes with a combination of just a handful of ingredients. As I grew up, so did my passion for cooking, and I started reading cookery books and practising dishes at home. Then, in 1990, I joined the Institute of Hotel Management and Catering College in Goa.

My inspiration for working at sea came from my grandfather. He was a seaman and when I was a boy he would tell me amazing stories about his experiences from around the world. By working on the ships I get to marry my love of cooking with my fascination with the sea.

 

What does your job involve?

I am fully responsible for the guest and crew dining experience on Oceana. I manage daily food budgets, ensure a safety culture within the team, and also consider the culture and ethnic religious beliefs of our crew.

 

How does being a chef at sea compare to being a chef on shore?

The operation is quite demanding in comparison to on shore. Turning things around for the next meal to be served within a short timespan can be a challenge, so constant forward planning and strong communication skills are vital in our day-to-day routine to make the operation successful.

Working at sea also connects you with people from different countries and cultures, be it guests, fellow crew members or the places we visit. And it gives me the chance to see different countries and experience the local cuisine.

Nevil Heredia and his wife standing in a garden in Madeira

Nevil and his wife in Madeira

Which ports of call do you love?

Madeira is amazing, with its fantastic geographical location and beautiful houses that echo the Portuguese architectural influence that we have back home in Goa. But I love to eat in Barcelona. Nothing beats seafood paella with chilled sangria.

 

What’s the best thing about your job?

Getting feedback from our customers, both our guests and crew, is great. The feedback doesn’t have to be positive as I like to take criticism, too. It gives me a challenge to do better all the time, which I thrive on.

 

What’s your favourite recipe to make for guests on board?

I love a classic bouillabaisse fish stew, French onion soup or braised lamb shank with winter vegetables. My signature dish, though, is peppered lamb loin served with dauphinoise potatoes, green beans and rosemary-infused port sauce.

 

What dishes would you make for a dinner party at home?

In all honesty, at home in Goa the executive chef is my wife Joana. I play the role of a supporting chef. We enjoy the local cuisine, such as chicken tikka masala, pork vindaloo and beef xacuti (a Goan beef curry).

 

If you could invite anyone to your dinner party, who would it be?

I would invite tennis legend Roger Federer as I am a huge fan. If I were given the opportunity to come up with my own menu, then it would be a three-course meal. I’d start by serving a carpaccio of Scottish salmon followed by a grilled veal chop on a cushion of wild mushrooms with a Gruyère cheese ragout, and I’d finish off with a traditional Goan desert called bebinca – a layered dessert made from coconut milk, eggs, flour, sugar and butter – with homemade vanilla-pod ice cream.

 

Where’s been your favourite place to eat on board on your night off during your time with P&O Cruises?

The Glass House. It’s a totally different experience: relaxed, informal dining with a variety of wonderful combinations of food served on small plates. Food Hero Olly Smith does absolute justice to this with his selection of fine wines to choose from that complement the food perfectly.

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