Smiling chef with glasses.

Albert, Expedition 400’s Baker, Puts the Joy in JOIDES

 Step into the JOIDES Resolution‘s galley during the tranquil predawn hours and the scents of cinnamon and vanilla pull you in. They let you know that Albert, JR’s baker extraordinaire, is on the job.

Chef in black jacket working at a table.
In the predawn hours, Albert moves from one baking project to another.

At 3 a.m. the baker is a flurry of activity, spooning cookie dough dollops onto oven trays and brushing coats of butter on croissants. For the crew members, these will be a treat. For Albert, this is simply another day of work on the two-month IODP Expedition 400, off the coast of northwest Greenland.

“I love cookies, more than cakes,” Albert says. “My favorites to bake are chocolate and cinnamon with oatmeal.”

Right on cue, the timer chimes, a signal that Albert answers with oven mitts in place. He pulls out a tray of oatmeal raisin cookies, then pivots to a second oven where he pops in croissants and removes a tray of flour-dusted, golden-brown Filipino rolls. Check out this video with pictures of these treats and others!

A bowl of dark cookie dough covered in clear plastic and a tray of brown eggs behind the bowl.
Albert prefers baking cookies to cakes. The JR loads up on 21,000 eggs for each expedition.

Drawing from the massive stores of baking supplies that includes over three tons (3100 kilograms) of flour, sugars and shortening, plus a staggering 21,000 eggs, Baker Albert delivers dozens of treats daily.

With operations on this research vessel continuing 24 hours a day, seven days a week in twelve-hour shifts, it’s always mealtime for someone, somewhere.  Albert’s repertoire spans crusts, doughs, batters and more as he caters to the diverse appetites of 117 hungry men and women.

A layered custard dessert with whipped cream on the side. Both sit on a white plate.
Custard desserts are also in Albert’s repertoire.

In remote locations, far from home, birthdays are a big deal and Albert’s name has become synonymous with celebration aboard the JOIDES. His birthday cakes have layers that mirror the strata of sediment and rock retrieved by expeditions beneath the waves. His birthday confections have attained legendary status, but they weren’t always a piece of cake.

 “The first time was very hard for me,” he confides,“It is much easier now.

Young man with dark hair and a COVID mask wearing a Hawaiian shirt and lei and holding a blue frosted birthday cake.
Birthdays are a big deal on the JR!

Albert, who calls Manila, Philippines home, began his culinary journey to his current position when he shifted from serving as a JOIDES steward, to assistant chef and then, trained as a baker. He’s been in this position for the past three years.

Multilayered cake with frosting.
Albert’s layer cakes mimic the sediment and rock strata that the expedition drills.

Albert now works a 12-hour shift, from 7:30 PM to 7:30 AM, confecting pies, golden-crusted French baguettes, gluten-free bread and donuts—some cake, some yeast—oozing with chocolate, custard, or Bavarian cream. He also crafts dumplings for hearty stews and bakes savory egg pies, rich with meats and vegetables.

Albert is treasured not only by the crew but also by his fellow chefs. Ally, the Camp Boss weighed in:

“Albert is well respected by all and he’s always happy. We call him “Mr. Chuckles” because he’s never in a bad mood!”

With Albert in the galley, the JOIDES crew is well-served.

Beth Doyle
Beth Doyle is a science enthusiast and teaches geology at Northern Virginia Community College and Marymount University. She likes to take students to iconic sites where the geology guides history, like Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry and Washington D.C. She enjoys hiking and trail running.
More articles by: Beth Doyle

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JOIDES Resolution