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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.