Chris Seidel outlines his international ambitions for the Catering Department
As Business Manager – Catering Chris Seidel has made it his mission to bring great food to Atlas’s clients across the globe.
Based in Perth, Chris joined Atlas Professionals when the company acquired the international activities of Programmed Marine and formed a joint venture for offshore and marine manning services in Australia and New Zealand in June 2017. (Since the interview Chris has now relocated to Singapore).
Chris has been working in the offshore industry since he was 18, and most of that time he has been involved in catering management. He was originally studying Fine Art at University, however his uncle suggested he take a summer holiday job on the rigs in the Bass Strait.“I became a steward and saw my first pay cheque and thought gee!” Needless to say, Chris’s career focus changed and he concentrated on the offshore industry.
As a Catering Manager on and offshore, Chris has largely specialised in overseas sites and those in remote locations. His career has included jobs in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and East Timor, where recently he was responsible for provisions for 14 tugs.
But probably the most challenging was providing catering and janitorial services for a large open cut mine in Papua New Guinea.“This was my first management job and I wanted to prove myself. It required a lot of lateral thinking and I even became accustomed to road closures, tribal disputes, moments of civil unrest and occasionally tear gas.”
Chris has been in his current role for around three years and he is keen to expand the business overseas.
Atlas’s capabilities have been proven over the years in Australasia and the company has built up a very good reputation, he says. Chris points to a key project for marine services provider POSH, which supplies the accommodation support vessel for Australia’s biggest FLNG project. The POSH Arcadia ‘flotel’ is one of the largest in the world with around 650 bunks. We had never had to feed that many people, she is the largest accommodation unit to ever come to Australia. There were a lot of doubters who were not sure the challenge could be met. But we did, and the Catering Department even won a significant Safety Award!”
This was awarded in recognition of the company’s quality of service and great food but also because of its strict hygiene standards to combat spread of illness on board.
“We have brilliant people working for us and they understand our expectations and our standards.” An important foundation for the Atlas standards is the company’s ‘Catering Capability Statement’. This states that all catering, housekeeping and janitorial services professionals have to have an understanding of international food safety management and hygiene standards, of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) and a comprehensive understanding of worldwide quarantine and inspection requirements.
Wholesome food & healthy lifestyle
As well as these stringent standards, Chris stresses that another major reason customers choose Atlas’s Catering services is its focus on good food but also because of its promotion of healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. “Our dietician regularly reviews all the menus. But it is not just about eating fruit and vegetables, we also have promotions that everyone should try and reduce salt and sugar and remember to rehydrate, sanitise their hands, get enough rest and exercise.”
Atlas Professionals is also one of the first service providers to use modern Stock Inventory Management Systems (SIMS) technology on ASVs to manage stock control. “This is a 21st century solution. As soon as the team on board issue provisions to the galley, this is taken off the stock inventory and automatically reordered. We already have SIMS on an ASV and are seeing substantial savings. Both for Atlas in terms of ordering fewer provisions and our clients which reduce their logistical requirements. This cuts the number of containers that have to be taken out to a facility for instance, so imagine the savings over a year!”
Because Atlas Professionals is international, Chris says he is looking forward to the new opportunities this brings. “We see this positive, healthy eating culture making a difference, and want to see this model from Australia brought all over the world. The company is now looking to expand its catering services into Brazil, South East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Gulf of Mexico.”
Chris concludes: “Of course, we know that people would prefer to be with their families than working offshore, but if they can look forward to a great meal, comfortable bed and clean laundry this helps the crew, and ultimately our clients because the crew are happy. We are fortunate to have passionate, talented people, who want to make a difference and help create ‘a home away from home’.”