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Josef Jungwirth, corporate executive chef of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

16 June 2005

In March 1999 Josef Jungwirth, 37, took on his biggest challenge yet when he became corporate executive chef for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Perhaps the title doesn't do the scope of his job justice, as the chef oversees food operations, food preparation and kitchen management on board 19 cruise ships.

Helping him fulfil his role is a team of five senior executive chefs and 140 executive chefs as well as more than 2,500 cooks. He has an annual food budget of more than $180m (£98m).

Born in Austria, Jungwirth dispensed with dithering and by the age of 15 had began a four-year apprenticeship at Hotel zur Post in St Valentin, Austria. But his first experience of cruise ships didn't come until 1989, when he took up the role of chef saucier on Cunard's Queen Elizabeth II. Having not found his sea legs, the young chef returned to terra firma and between 1990 and 1994 worked at a number of hotels and restaurants in the USA and Europe while finding time to gain his master chef degree.

He returned to Cunard after this as executive chef, before joining Hyatt International at its Grand Hyatt in Seoul for a year.

In 1997 he won the prestigious role of executive chef aboard the QE2, where he managed six kitchens serving 9,000 meals a day.

Now at Royal Caribbean, he is based at its corporate offices in Miami, dividing his time between office and fleet. The nature of the cruise business means he must be contactable round the clock, and he spends most of his time on menu and equipment development, management, recruiting, testing produce and attending trade shows.

Despite being based in the USA, Jungwirth recruits the majority of his chefs in the UK.

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.

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