My business: Chris Ormshaw, Sodexo Energy & Resources

Offshore Chef Manager Chris Ormshaw takes Energy Focus behind the scenes at Sodexo

chris ormshaw headshot

Can you tell us a little about Sodexo?

Sodexo is a global food services and facilities management company operating in 53 countries. Sodexo employs more than 30,000 people across various business sectors in the UK and Ireland, including energy and resources. With more than 50 years’ experience in the industry, our Energy & Resources team works in isolated and complex environments, such as offshore rigs, delivering daily catering, hospitality, welfare, facilities and property management, and refurbishments.

Oil Rig - Credit: iStock - 1457436123

What are your daily challenges?

Working offshore has its own set of unique challenges. Equipment breaking down can be a huge issue, as replacement can take two to three weeks to arrive, so it’s ensuring that appliances go through regular safety and quality checks. Another challenge is ingredient availability.  Fresh produce is usually delivered in bulk once a week, so not having the right ingredients can impact our menus. Planning can also be challenging in a fast-paced environment. For example, the team I currently work with caters for 95 offshore workers on board, which requires a lot of early groundwork.

What’s your favourite part about working at Sodexo?

We usually work from a bank of Sodexo’s Kitchen Works Co. recipes created specifically for the offshore environment. With more than 2,500 recipes, we can explore different cuisines or food styles, including street food, Chinese, Italian and Indian, as well as great British classics. We try to keep up with current food trends, too, so we can best adapt our menus to the needs of offshore workers. Life on board can be challenging, so we provide a range of meal options to allow offshore workers to refuel, recharge and regroup.

Offshore food

Working offshore is rewarding in terms of work-life balance. Teams are usually on-site for two full weeks before having a rest period for three weeks onshore – which can be an advantage compared to working full-time in a kitchen onshore.

What has changed since your first day at Sodexo?

Today, we’re putting more emphasis on the nutritional value of food than ever before. Workers, and consumers in general, have become increasingly aware of the food they consume, so we’re using more fresh and locally sourced ingredients that cater to various dietary needs and preferences. We use Sodexo’s Kitchen Works Co. approach on-site to provide variety and keep menus fresh, modern and new, all of which our customers appreciate. Nutritional value is paramount for consumers, so we’ll display more information on the dishes we serve.

Offshore food

How is life as an offshore chef different to a regular chef?

The pace and lifestyle are different. We work in pairs for two weeks, followed by three weeks of rest, so you don’t go home at the end of your shift. Our team is much smaller than in an onshore kitchen, too – we have a chef manager, a chef and a baker working overnight. As we live and work together, we collaborate closely.

What role does food and nutrition play in the offshore environment?

Offshore workers need food that will sustain them through extended periods, but they also want food they’re looking forward to during the day or after a long shift. By keeping variety in our menus, we try to capture that ‘home-from-home’ experience as much as possible while always taking their feedback on board.

September leaves

Offshore workers often spend extended periods away from home, and we recognise the significant impact that food can have on improving their daily lives – particularly during special occasions such as Christmas, when our team places extra emphasis on enhancing their experience. Our planning process for festive meals begins up to four months in advance. We carefully consider seasonal ingredients to ensure the offshore teams enjoy a memorable and celebratory food experience.

Image credit | iStock