Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Norfolk-area culinary specialists show off talent

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Richard J. Stevens, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Norfolk

NORFOLK (5/2/2010) (NNS) -- The Naval Station Norfolk galley hosted the Commander, Navy Installation Command galley program's 2nd annual enterprise-wide culinary competition April 29.

"The purpose of this event is to create and maintain enthusiasm for culinary skills improvement and allow our junior culinary specialists to compete on a bigger stage," said W.T. Dorris, Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Fleet and Family Readiness galley program manager. "The benefit is to take improved skills to serve our Sailors on a daily basis."

The food preparatory area behind the serving lines at the galley was converted into stations similar to the scenery of the television show Iron Chef. Culinary specialists chopped onions and peppers, roasted duck, filleted salmon, butchered tenderloin and found new and creative ways to prepare lobster.

Guest judges included Capt. Karen Tsiantas, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Fleet and Family Readiness program director; Cmdr. Jennifer Flather, CNIC food and beverage program manager; and Chef Michael Harants, Navy corporate chef from Navy Supply Systems Command.

Harants explained that the judges are looking for overall good food, as well as good presentation.

"I'm seeing a lot of creative things happening," said Harants "They're going out of their normal box and comfort zone. We, as judges, are looking at their skillsets."

He added that they also look for things like whether or not the participants are going to get anybody sick through cross-contamination or check for items such as whether or not they apply the right cooking methods to the protein or the vegetables.

The top two teams in the competition will combine into one and be CNIC's representative in the annual Navy International Food Service Executives Association. The winner will travel to the CNIC competition in Washington D.C. June 24. This also includes a week of instruction at a local hotel with training provided by local certified chef's and Navy Supply and CNIC assets.

Last year, the Naval Station galley team won the local competition and placed second in the CNIC competition. They joined the team that participated in the IFSEA Navywide competition.

"You can get certified as a chef while you're in the Navy and the Navy will pay for it," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Niles Harper last year's winner. "If you want to become a chef, get as much schooling from the Navy as you can."

First place winners, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Caleb J. Garner and Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Christopher P. Damon, of Naval Support Activity Northwest Annex, took home a top-of-the-line 27-piece knife set, trophy, gold ribbons, cookbooks, hats, flash drives and shirts provided by sponsoring vendors.

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