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Meet the team: Lester Carvalho


P&O Cruises Executive Chef Lester Carvalho on his passion for cooking and the importance of good food for a great holiday.

P&O Cruises Executive Chef Lester Carvalho

P&O Cruises Executive Chef Lester Carvalho

How long have you worked for P&O Cruises?
I’ve been with the company for 21 years. I joined Oriana on her maiden voyage in 1995 as a Commis Chef and worked up the ranks to Executive Chef, which is a role I’ve been doing for about a year now.


What made you want to become a chef?
I’ve had a passion for cooking since childhood. My parents worked in government services and would work the whole day, so the evenings were important for us as a family to spend time together. I would usually prepare the snacks for everyone during the evening – they were simple but everyone enjoyed them. That’s where I really started to develop a love of cooking.


What might you do on a typical day on board?

As an Executive Chef, I’m responsible for the team in the Galley and back of house, as well as maintaining the food quality for our guests and crew.

My day starts with checking emails, followed by morning rounds, where I take the opportunity to chat to my staff. I then meet my management team and go through the menus, which are done three days in advance, as well as approve all orders, do relevant paperwork, go on rounds and do food tasting. During my afternoon break I usually take the opportunity to explore the port of call that we are in that day. I finish the day with the evening shift, which includes food tasting and rounds.


What’s the best thing about your job?
I believe that no holiday is complete without good food, so this job gives me the opportunity to help guests have the best holiday possible. And without a doubt, a huge benefit of working for P&O Cruises is that my job has taken me around the world, which otherwise would never have been possible. A big highlight for me was working on board Britannia when she was launched and cooking for Her Majesty The Queen – I’ll never forget that!

P&O Cruises Executive Chef Lester Carvalho climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge

P&O Cruises Executive Chef Lester Carvalho climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge

What’s your favourite food to cook?
Over the years that I’ve travelled around the world, I’ve tasted many different types of food. I like to experiment with a variety of these different cuisines, as well as understand the cultural aspect behind the dishes. My signature dish would have to be creamy cod bake (bacalhau com natas), which is Portuguese. I am from Goa in India, which was once ruled by the Portuguese – that’s where the inspiration comes from.


What do you love most about working at sea?
Working on ships takes you to so many different places. One day you’re in one country and the next you could be in a completely different one. That’s amazing. I’m currently on a World Cruise on Arcadia. It’s very interesting and exciting, and I particularly like that I’ve had the opportunity to visit South America for the first time in the 21 years that I’ve worked at sea. My favourite port of call though has to be Sydney. I’ve been there on many occasions but I always look forward to a visit. On my most recent trip my aim was to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I did it and absolutely loved it – it was a great experience.


Do you have a favourite P&O Cruises ship?

Oriana is the ship where I started my career as a 21-year-old Commis Chef as well as where I was promoted to Executive Chef, so it has a special place in my heart. Having said that, I’ve worked on most of the ships in the P&O Cruises fleet and they all have their own identity. That’s what makes working at sea with P&O Cruises so special.