Chief cook

Calum has been working with Scottish ferry company CaledonianMacBrayne for the last 12 years. 

He cooks breakfast on the Hebridean Isles ferry so his passengers can tuck in while they travel. 

Planning ahead for an early start

A typical day for Calum involves getting up at 5.30am and working until 8pm that night.

'The first thing I do when I get up is prepare my soup for the day and get the first lot of breakfast in the oven,’ he says.

‘We decide what the menu is going to be in advance. The passengers and the crew get a completely different menu each day. 

'It’s not only breakfast that’s on offer for commuters, but lunch, dinner and snacks too with the cafe open from 6.30am until 7.45pm.

Feeding 400 people on the ferry

The first ferry sets off at 7am from Kennacraig and takes just over two hours to get to Islay.

‘We get some people on the boat doing their daily commute to the island,’ says Calum. 

‘Tradesmen usually go over and spend the week on the island. There are also lorry drivers and we sometimes get police officers on the boat who are travelling to the island to start their shift.’

Calum is joined in the galley by the second cook and then another member of staff comes onboard to help during the busy summer months.

‘At peak times there could be around 400 people on board to feed. If I’m taking food out to the cafe then I get the chance to briefly chat to some of the customers which is nice and we’ve got to know all of the lorry drivers,’ he adds.

Work challenges

‘You need to be willing to be away from home for two weeks at a time, be willing to get your hands dirty and be willing to learn.’

Calum started his career at sea and in catering when he was 17. He’s been in the Merchant Navy and worked on stand-by boats for the North Sea oil rigs, preparing food on both for those on board.

‘I love my job because everyday you’re not doing the same thing,’ he says. 

‘Sometimes you might run out of certain ingredients and you have to try and put something else together.

‘It’s not like working on-shore and when you run out of something you can pop to the shops. You’ve got to wait until your delivery comes.’

He adds, ‘It gives you a good sense of satisfaction when people give good feedback about the food that we’ve made.

‘You can tell by the drivers. If they weren’t enjoying their commute and having a good meal then they would be taking on their own sandwiches.’