DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF OUR BUFFET WITH MR M. STOJOVIC, BUFFET MANAGER ON MSC GRANDIOSA
Let’s start with a little introduction. Tell us a bit about your origins, your studies, your carrier and your current position in MSC Cruises.
“I was born in the city of Bar, Montenegro, in 1985. I got a bachelor's degree in Tourism and then entered the big MSC family in 2004. I started as a waiter and now I am the Buffet Manager onboard MSC Grandiosa.”
Buffets are one of the characteristic features of a cruise, our guests go there at various moments of the day. How is the culinary offer of the buffet developed in the various moments of the day, considering that the buffet is open many hours a day?
“Buffet Restaurant is the heart and soul of the Ship, where each and every guest has a meal at least once during the cruise. The products we offer depend on many factors, such as where the majority of guests come from, how many families are cruising with us and, of course, the seasonal products. On MSC Grandiosa, cruising Mediterranean itineraries, the buffet is closed only 5 hours each day, as it offers non-stop service from 06:30 am to 01:30 am with a daily menu rotation for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and midnight snacks."
How many people work at the buffet, not only serving and attending the guests but also behind the scenes? How do you ensure an impeccable and attentive service over such a long period of time?
“There are more than 500 people in the Food&Beverage Department who are directly involved in the buffet operations and cooperate with other departments to ensure that all steps of the process run smoothly – from loading and storing of the raw products to cooking and preparing the dishes and finally serving them to our guest. The key to the success of this complex organization is teamwork. People of different origins and cultures work together for the same purpose: make sure that all guests have a dream vacation and an amazing culinary experience. The Buffet team works closely with the main restaurant galley, to ensure consistency in what is offered throughout the ship. For example, if we have lamb dishes in the main dining restaurant, it is surely also available in the buffet.”
Give us some more details about the menu of the buffet. Which dishes are always available and which ones vary during the day or during the week?
“The onboard Buffet is composed of a series of stations which feature different dishes. We have the Pizza station, where our pizza chef, our pizzaiolo, is constantly at work to prepare different kind of pizza, and a Grab and Go station where we prepare burgers, hot dogs, composed salads, fry of the day, desserts and much more. Different dishes and delicacies are available in the Starters, Soup, Fresh Pasta and Wellness station, where salads, vegetables and fruits are freshly cut. Also in the Rotisserie station, we have two meat carving with vegetables every day. In addition to this, every day we serve six different types of bread, to meet the varied request of our international guests. For the afternoon break we offer sandwiches, salads, fruit and hot desserts but we also include savory waffles, various dishes with mozzarella cheese, quesadillas and so on. For the midnight snack, we offer homemade pizza, sandwiches with spread and hot sandwiches, in addition to a variety of salads, which are different from the ones available for lunch, dinner and afternoon snack.”
A cruise is often a good occasion to discover new flavors and we do have a very interesting Ethnic Corner on board. What are the dishes available in this area and which are the ones our guests love the most?
“Cruising is all about exploring and thanks to the food available at the buffet our guests can taste flavours from all over the world. Our Ethnic Corner offers delicacies from Brazil, India, The Philippines, Mexico, Indonesia and many more fascinating countries visited by the MSC ships. The most popular dishes are chicken biryani, lamb curry, chutney, pita and papadum bread.”
Children love the buffet. How do you manage to meet their sweet tooth with their parents’ request for a healthy balanced diet?
“Children’s menus were developed by our Corporate Executive Chefs in cooperation with professional nutritionists to cater for their specific dietary needs. We do offer a very well-balanced menu for children of all ages, from toddlers to young teens, and parents love this “familiar” approach. Of course, we do have very yummy treats as well! Chocolate chip pancake is surely one of kids’ favourite.”
The buffet of MSC Grandiosa has a very special feature, a Mozzarella Station, where delicious mozzarella cheese is produced right before our eyes! Can you tell us something more about this fascinating place?
“We created this professional cheesemaking laboratory to provide a unique experience to all our guests, to stimulate their curiosity towards mozzarella and give them the opportunity to taste the genuine 100% buffalo and cow’s milk mozzarella flavor. We produce more than 300kg of fresh mozzarella every day which is used for pizza but also for appetizers (so-called “bocconcini”) and in slices to be served in the buffet and in the main dining rooms.”
Last but not least – everyone loves the delicious pizza baked on board. How much pizza is baked every day on board MSC Grandiosa?
“Every day our fantastic pizzaiolo Carlo prepares around 700 pizzas of different flavors. And believe me – they are all wonderful!”