Tom Goetter- Corporate Executive Chef of the Scenic Eclipse about vegan and vegetarian cuisine including own herb garden on a cruise ship

Tom Goetter is Corporate Executive Chef on the cruise ship Scenic Eclipse. Boredom is the biggest horror of all for him, which is probably why a cruise ship with all the many daily challenges is just right for him. In this great article he tells us more about his everyday life on board, about the vegan and vegetarian cuisine and how to cultivate his own herb garden on board.
“I have already travelled the world a lot and have always enjoyed consolidating my professional experience worldwide.
After a few stops at Michelin restaurants and 5 star hotels, a few things became clear to me. Mainstream is simply out of the question for me. Just the thought of cooking at one place for a longer time caused panic in me.

But it has always been incredibly important to me not only to be a cook. Through my food I also wanted to pass on a message to people and inspire them.

Cruise ships have a bad reputation. Many negative things are reported. Unqualified cooks, poor food quality, mass production, pollution and uncreative menus. No one would suspect that there is a vergan or vegetarian food on the menu. This was the perfect challenge for me! Exactly my thing!!!

I wanted to set the record straight once and for all and had found exactly the right ship and owner for it! The I quickly turned into a we – we, the team of the Scenic Eclipse, wanted to prove it to everyone together.
Vegan and vegetarian as a big focus, just like sustainability and a very conscious selection of suppliers and partners. This is what many restaurants on land offer and in my opinion they are finally going in the right direction. But is this even possible on a ship? Of course it is!

We do without three buffets a day and large dining rooms with hundreds of seats. Instead, we offer only 200 guests in a total of 11 dining options exclusively a la carte! On the one hand, this increases the quality immensely and, at the same time, the many leftovers and waste from the past are reduced to an absolute minimum.


Vegan cooking is even more complicated: no dairy products. How do you manage to balance out the situation here?

We offer a variety of vegan and vegetarian options in all restaurants, and we try to avoid classics like butter, milk, refined sugar, etc. from the outset. Not only because it gives more options and freedom to vegetarians and vegans, but also because it is healthier and in my opinion the future.


Abroad, as for example in India, there is a long tradition of vegan/vegetarian cuisine. Do recipes from abroad serve as a model for you?

I see myself not only as a cook on the water, but also as responsible for a rethinking in the industry and I love to offer my guests a cosmopolitan cuisine. I have a total of 16 nations in my 36-man team, which is why we already have the opportunity to make use of a wide variety of influences. Vegan and vegetarian is simply no longer a challenge.


To what extent do you work together with local producers?

Exactly that’s the point… in a restaurant on land you should at best buy regional food… but that often gets boring after a while… On a ship of this size you can only organize and buy locally. The madness!!! Combined with the experience and cultures I have on board anyway, this results in dishes from all over the world!
I love to re-inspire and rethink so-called Meat Lovers. I don’t think much of exclusively vegan restaurants, in my opinion a rethink can only happen casually.

Not only do we try to work with local food, but we also grow our own herbs on board on a large scale, dehydrate food, ferment and conserve on board and try to avoid plastic as much as possible.
We don’t want big suppliers and prefer the smaller companies with history, best located in the port cities we visit.
The development of the guests and employees is incredibly interesting. They are proud of the sustainable development and the knowledge that things can be different on ships too!


Are you trying to align yourself with Zero Waste?

We try to offer a new kind of gastronomy on the water on a high level.
Accordingly we reduce waste on a large scale. I am aware that we can’t work 100% clean, just like a restaurant on land. However, I have the feeling that it is precisely here that I can inspire people to rethink and rethink.


What possibilities do you see to share your knowledge with other restaurants / hotels / etc.?

I see us as pirates in the gastronomy industry on the water, which has only slowly but surely understood that we have to do our part as well and that rethinking will be the greatest time of all.


How is the pandemic changing the kitchens of this world?

The pandemic is, of course, an absolute catastrophe for our industry in particular. But perhaps it is also a good moment to dare to make a new start!

We should turn away from extremes in gastronomy – no matter what kind – be it the huge Schnitzelhaus or a purely vegan restaurant, which in Germany specializes in working exclusively with avocados. In my opinion this is not the right way. I would like to see more regional vegetarian and vegan cuisine, also in Gutschenken or classic schnitzel houses, creative and colourful it should be. Often I have the feeling that it is rather black and white, I think that is a pity.


Tell us something about the soul of your kitchen!

My philosophy and the soul of my kitchen is simply explained. First and foremost we want to cook sustainably and healthily. We want to be alternative, combine the new with the old without losing the clear line.
And we want to encourage people to consciously eat healthier food without forcing it.
Eating must be fun and delicious – not just healthy.


Tom, thank you very much for this fantastic insight. All the best for the future.