Sunday, May 20, 2012

Culinary specilist trains with Royal Navy

This article should bring a smile to my professional colleagues. Their passion for food drives them to prepare most meal components from scratch. It has become second nature. These chefs transform the word 'cook' into an action verb by cooking full meals, all from scratch.

As a chef for more that 40 years in residential programs, I learned my love for cooking in the U.S. Navy, a career that's focused on the Navy, health care, corrections and camps. When I graduated from U.S. Navy Commissaryman Class 'A' School in March 1971, scratch cooking dominated the Navy's enlisted galleys. We prepared the whole meal from scratch during my eight and one-half years of active duty.

The Navy slowly shifted the emphasis away from scratch cooking in the intervening years. Now, according to this Navy Supply press release, the Navy is slowly reintroducing scratch cooking into its ships and shore stations. Initial goals call for scratch cooking 40 percent of the menu on aircraft carriers.

Maybe the Navy needs to recall some of it retired chief petty officers, like CS1 Cherry's father. We could teach our younger shipmates how to cook. A short cruise on a Navy man of war would be fun for old-times sake. And we could pass our knowledge into the younger generation.

Enjoy the article ...

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (NNS) -- Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) John Cherry completed a three-month culinary training course with the United Kingdom Royal Navy's Defence Maritime Logistics School, and returned to Fort Lee, Va. Jan. 3.

Currently serving as an instructor at the Culinary Specialist Class "A" School at Fort Lee, Va., Cherry began instructing a new class today, and will incorporate some of the "hands on" cooking he has learned to help Sailors better understand the Navy's incentive for scratch cooking.

"The training provided by the Royal Navy gives their sailors the knowledge to be able to cook a product from scratch, and not rely solely on pre-prepared items all the time," he explained. This will enable Cherry to better instruct his students in scratch cooking, and supports the U.S. Navy's efforts in increasing scratch cooking and baking aboard carriers to near 40 percent of total output.

The Navy has set three goals to help improve culinary specialists' quality of work. These include slight changes to the menu to incorporate more scratch cooking and bakery products, increasing training and ensuring appropriate staffing levels.

The training Cherry received will certainly help him meet these goals. He was selected by the school's leadership to attend a three-month culinary training regiment, conducted from mid-September through December 2011, including a five-day transit aboard a Royal Navy ship.

"The biggest impact is with the length of the course with the Royal Navy," he emphasized. "The UK training allows students to get in-depth training and allows them to function in a galley onboard ship with a lot of autonomy. It gives that Sailor the knowledge to be able to cook and produce from scratch. It also encourages them to apply what they learned during training to menu planning aboard ships, and use their skills to explore different dishes within the ship's menu," Cherry added.

His efforts coincide with Naval Supply Systems Command ongoing work with Type Commands to increase scratch cooking on carrier menus to 40 percent, which will help guarantee Sailors receive nourishing, high-quality food prepared fresh every day by culinary specialists who take seriously their impact on Sailors' health, morale, and fleet readiness.

"The training CS1 Cherry received will help him provide the over the shoulder training that our junior culinary specialists deserve, to increase their scratch cooking skills," said Cmdr. Danny King, Naval Supply Systems Command Navy Food Service director. "As an example of our commitment, the Navy has increased scratch cooking on carrier menus to 40 percent in just the past two months to bring our Sailors exceptional meals they can enjoy away from home."

King said that the UK Food Allowance per Sailor is not as high as the U.S. Navy's, which requires onboard chefs to prepare many of the meals using raw ingredients, vice using the pre-prepared items.

"In the U.S. Navy, we have focused on making Navy food service as economical and efficient as possible for the last several years," King said. "We are now working to match those efficiencies by helping the fleet balance their menus and return to more scratch cooking."

Cherry served as culinary specialist at the White House for President George W. Bush and later for Adm. Robert Willard, former vice chief of Naval Operations. He said the training he received will help him meet and exceed his career goals. "My next goal is to serve as a chief petty officer, and to run my own food service establishment, either aboard ship or in a flag community."

Having a father who retired as a chief mess management specialist (forerunner of the culinary specialist rating) and having grown up in the Navy-centric community of Norfolk, Va., Cherry knew as a very young man that he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps.

Culinary specialists provide more than 92 million wholesome and nutritious meals per year, helping ensure the Navy's fighting forces operate at peak performance, and are ready to respond to threats and humanitarian operations worldwide. With even more advanced training on the way, Sailors, serving both afloat and ashore, can look forward to even healthier and better-tasting meals.

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