Monday, May 31, 2010

Chief Commissary Steward Willard J. Reynolds

Ship's Cook Second Class "Squarehead" Larsen is one the more memorable characters in John Ford's 1945 film They Were Expendable. Played by a veteran of 26 Ford films, Harry Tenbrook (1887-1960), Larsen was the fictional ship's cook of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3 during the defense of the Philippine Islands in the early days of World War II

Tenbrook's character died when four Japanese float planes surprised the beached PT-34 in the aftermath of a torpedo run on enemy warships off the Philippine Islands of Cebu. Although I don't know for sure, it's possible that Larsen is the fictionalized name in the film for Chief Commissary Steward Willard J. Reynolds.

During the night action of April 8-9, 1942, Chief Reynolds manned one of the twin 50-cal. machine gun on the real PT-34. He was hit by shrapnel in the neck and shoulder as he fired his guns into a searchlight from the Imperial Japanese Navy cruiser Kuma that had illuminated the motor torpedo boat.

The Navy's official account of the PT boats in World War II, At Close Quarters: PT Boats in the United States Navy by Captain John D. Bulkeley, Jr., USNR (Retired)* continues the account of the death of Chief Reynolds and the sinking of the PT-34:
"WE COULD NO LONGER FIGHT" -- (Boat captain Lieutenant (Junior Grade)) Kelly tried to take the 34 into Cebu City before daylight to get medical aid for Reynolds. But he had only a large-scale chart, useless for navigating the channel. He idled in, and just when his soundings told him that he was in 3 fathoms, his boat ground to a stop on a coral pinnacle. He sent his executive officer, Ens. Iliff D. Richardson, USNR, ashore in a dinghy to find a tug for the 34 and a doctor for Reynolds. By daylight Kelly was able to rock the boat free. His center propeller and strut were damaged, but he was able to proceed into the channel on two engines.

"Under ordinary conditions," he said, "it would have been considered suicidal to have been operating in this area after daylight. However, the Army authorities had assured us of air cover and given us the assigned radio frequencies of the planes. These planes were scheduled to arrive that morning from Australia to form an escort for coastal steamers due to leave Cebu the next day carrying food for Corregidor. The radio of the PT 34 had been rendered inoperable during the previous night's engagement. However, I had every confidence that the planes would be there having seen a copy of the dispatch concerning them the night before.

"Shortly after 0800 a bomb landed close off the PT 34's port bow. We had not heard any planes due to the noise of our engines. Four Jap float planes were seen to be diving on us out of the sun, the first already having dropped its bomb. The PT 34's amidship .50 cal. turrets were already manned and began firing immediately. The port bow .30 cal. Lewis machine-gun was blown off its stand by the first bomb's blast. The starboard bow .30 caliber was manned immediately by the quartermaster and I took the wheel. During the next 15 minutes eight bombs were dropped on the PT 34. All were near misses (under 25 yards). The planes dove from about 500 feet altitude strafing as they came out of the sun. The first run killed the starboard .50 caliber gunner and disabled the gun. The next two runs knocked out the port .50 cal. turret. On the third run the quartermaster, Ross, hit one of the float planes causing it to smoke heavily. It was presumed to have crashed (although it was not seen to hit the water) since it was not seen during any subsequent attack. On the next run Ross was hit and his gun disabled.

"Since the PT 34 was in a narrow channel and only had two engines, maneuvering was extremely difficult. During the succeeding runs the boat was riddled with .30 cal. holes although it received no bomb hits. Chief Torpedoman Martino, who was acting as Executive Officer, rendered first aid to the crew and kept me informed of our damage. When I received word that the engine room was flooded with about 3 feet of water and the engines could not last much longer, it was decided to beach the boat since we could no longer fight."

Kelly beached his boat on Cauit Island and got his crew ashore. David W. Harris, TM2c, who had been in the starboard turret, was dead. Reynolds had been wounded again, this time fatally. Albert P. Ross, QM1c, who had hit the enemy plane; John Martino, CTM, and Velt F. Hunter, CMM, were wounded.

At 1230 the three planes returned while salvage operations were underway and bombed and strafed the 34 again. This time they set the boat afire, and it burned and exploded on the beach at Cauit Island, southern approach to Cebu City.
Chief Reynolds was the first of 18 food service rates (one chief commissary steward, 15 ship's cooks, one baker and one steward's mate) to die in the service of the World War II U.S. Navy motor torpedo boat squadrons. Like the June 2005 death of Seabee Culinary Specialist First Class Regina R. Clark in Operation Iraqi Freedom, it's a reminder that the cooks and bakers are just as vulnerable to enemy action as other service men and women.

Chief Reynolds was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action.

*Bulkeley commanded both the squadron and PT-41 during the attack on the IJN Kuma. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in command of the squadron.

Breakfast menu

Two months ago the program director at work asked me to write a breakfast menu for the residents. She wanted to give the residents a chance to cook a hot, home-style breakfast each Sunday.

Residents currently eat a self-prepared breakfast each day. Menu offerings include fresh fruit (mostly apples, oranges and bananas); an assortment of three to four dry cereals, toaster-ready frozen waffles, French toast and pancakes; toast, English muffins and bagels; and a selection of condiments plus standard beverages.

Most residents quickly fall into a breakfast rut once they enter the program. Since the facility doesn't have the budget or staff to serve a traditional breakfast each morning, the menu will give them a chance to break the monotony one day each week.

This menu doesn't address the monotony of the current continental breakfast. Once the menu menu is put into use in a month or two, I'll have to evaluate the products I purchase for breakfast.

Ultimately, I'll only use four breakfasts since the program uses a four-week cycle menu. The remaining two meals will be reserved as alternative breakfasts.

Scrambled eggs, shredded cheese & beef chorizo rolled in flour tortilla
Home fried potatoes, fresh salsa & fresh fruit in season

Baked frittata (or omelet) with whipped eggs, hash brown potatoes & sweet bell peppers topped with shredded cheese
Sliced cantaloupe or honeydew melon

One or two hearty pancakes with granola in the batter
Fresh fruit in season, hot syrup & melted margarine served on the side

Two eggs to order, hash brown potatoes & bacon, ham or sausage
Whole wheat toast with strawberry jam

English muffin sandwich with egg patty, ham slice & American cheese
Blueberry muffin with jam & honey plus fresh fruit in season

Scrambled eggs with home fried potatoes
Country (turkey) sausage gravy served over biscuits
Fresh fruit in season

Food Network 'Dinner Impossible' chef visit Iwo Jima crew

I admire chefs who have the time to donate to the U.S. Navy's guest chef program. In addition to loaning a seasoned culinary teacher to the ship for the day or a short cruise, it gives the ship's culinary specialists the opportunity to learn new techniques and dishes under and experienced culinarian from civilian life.

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW/NAC) Eric J. Rowley, USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) Public Affairs

NEW YORK (NNS) -- Chef Robert Irvine from Food Networks "Dinner Impossible" visited USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) May 27 to cook for the crew as a part of Fleet Week New York 2010.

Not only did Irvine cook breakfast, but he continued throughout the day all the way through dinner.

"Today we are pushing to a higher standard," said Irvine. "We have more people and more equipment than a restaurant, and we are using all of the same stuff in the original menu, I am just putting my own spin on it"

He also spent time with Sailors to give them kitchen tips, such as better ways to use a knife to what ingredients to use in various situations.

"I'm glad I came to work today," said Machinist's Mate Firemen Lina Rojas, food service attendant. "It was a good experience cooking with Chef Irvine."

For dinner, Irvine cooked a beef roast, roasted chicken with a creative apple juice oil vinegar and pepper sauce, Salisbury steak with a mushroom sauce and pasta with cream sauce.

"The dinner was amazing," said Fire Control Technician 2nd Class Jacob Beebe. "My wife and I are big fans of Chef Irvine's show, and he is just like he is in real life as he is on the show."

Iwo Jima's Senior Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW/SS) Stephen Boos has cooked with Irvine in the past when they both worked in the Naval Mess in the West Wing of the White House.

"Chef Irvine has done training for the Navy in the past, said Boos. "He is really big on on-the-job training. I hope having Chef Irvine on board here brings more of the passion of cooking to the Iwo Jima's culinary specialists."

Irvine served in the British Royal Navy where he began his cooking trade and ever since, he says, he has had an affinity for naval services.

"I have a long standing tradition with the U.S. Navy, and this is a way I can just give back," said Irvine. "I support the men and women of the Armed Services and I have always believed food improves morale."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Navy vs. Coast Guard in cookoff on Good Morning America

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dominique Watts, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Norfolk

NEW YORK (NNS) -- Good Morning America welcomed the Navy and Coast Guard to their set in Times Square to participate in the show's Red, White and Blue Cook-off May 29.

Culinary Specialist 1st Class Keith Ombo squared off against Food Specialist 2nd Class Robert Runn of the Coast Guard.

"This was the first time I had done anything like this," said Ombo. "It was a great experience."

Creating an original dish that adhered to the red, white and blue theme, proved to be challenging but fun for each contestant.

"I took the theme literally," said Runn. "I cooked Dijon pork, which is the white when you cut it open; and accompanied it with a red fruit compote and topped it off with blueberry accents. I was able to use great fruit that is in season right now."

Each contestant had the opportunity to practice making their dish before hand and gauged the response by asking their shipmates to taste it.

The cookoff was in celebration of Fleet Week New York 2010. Approximately 3,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are participating in the 23rd Fleet Week, which will continue through June 2.

Though the competition was close, official taste tester Marine Staff Sgt. Derek Moore announced Runn the winner.

"This whole experience has been great," explained Runn. "Everyone has been so supportive."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daughter's creation

I love to hear from my children when they step outside their culinary comfort zone. Here's a photograph of a salad that my daughter created the other night.

According to my eldest, she made the salad with cranberries, avocado, bacon, blue cheese, walnuts and apples with raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

2010 Carson City Rendezvous Dutch oven cookoff

I plan to be in Carson City on Saturday, June 12, 2010 with my chuckbox and Dutch ovens ...

Don’t Just COOK, Win!!
Compete for a chance to cook in the World Championship Cookoff!

2010 Carson City Rendezvous Dutch Oven Cookoff
June 13, 2010 - Carson City, Nevada

The Cast Iron Cooks of the West want to taste your Dutch oven creations in Carson City.

This fun ‘event within an event’ provides anyone a chance to win. Beginners have beat experienced cooks at many cook-offs in the past, so everyone has an equal chance of winning a trophy, money, and a full stomach after sampling everyone’s dishes! Contestants can be of any age; our Junior category is specifically for those under 18. Four winning teams have made it to the finals at the World Championship Dutch Oven Cookoff in Sandy, Utah!

Dutch oven cooking activities at the 2010 Carson City Rendezvous include Outdoor Dutch oven cooking classes and demonstrations on Friday and all day Saturday! Learn how to season and care for cast iron, how to cook in your Dutch oven whether camping or at home, baking sourdough bread and extravagant desserts, all taught by the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games Dutch oven Chef David Herzog.

Saturday evening will feature a D.O.G. or Dutch Oven Gathering, where everyone is invited to bring your Dutch oven(s) and your favorite recipes to share in a potluck! You don't have to be an experienced Dutch oven cook to join us Saturday evening, even if you've never cooked in a camp Dutch oven, just show up with your iron, charcoal, recipe, and ingredients and Dave will be more than happy to help you get started!

If you haven’t cooked in a cookoff before, don’t be afraid of cooking with us! We promote fun times and more fun times at our cookoffs! Beginners have beat experienced cooks at many cook-offs in the past, so everyone has an equal chance of winning a trophy, money, and a full stomach after sampling everyone’s dishes!

We are also looking for Junior contestants, 18 and younger. Any individual or group, such as schools, scouts, clubs, teams, etc. can enter as Juniors. All contestants can compete in Main Dish, Bread, and Desert categories; those over 18 can also compete in the Breakfast category.

Sunday is the big day of Dutch oven competition! There will be 2 competitions, a breakfast competition starting at 7:30 a.m. with judging at 9:00 AM and the main event starting at 10:00 a.m. with judging around 1:00 p.m. Thanks to our friends at Smith’s Food & Drug Stores and their Neighbor to Neighbor Fund for sponsoring this contest.

Visit or call 775.887.1294 for an application and further information. You can also register at the time of the cook off.

Past winners Rex Recheteiner and Mary Williamson encourage you to try their award-winning recipes:

Rex Recheteiner & Mary Williamson

1 pound hamburger
1 package stuffing mix, made according to directions
1 envelope meatloaf seasoning
1 to 2 eggs, slightly beaten
Onions, mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste

2 parts catsup
1 part brown sugar
1 part mustard

Mix ingredients together and pack into a stainless steel dog dish. Top with topping and bake at 375 degrees (17 top / 11 bottom coals) for 90 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Rex Recheteiner & Mary Williamson

No Roll Pie Crust
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup corn oil
3 tablespoons cold milk

Mix all ingredients in pie plate until flour is dampened. Press in pan with fingers.

Pie Ingredients
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg
1 c.upsour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 3 cups chopped apples

Mix dry ingredients together. Add egg, sour cream and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add apples. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees (18 top / 12 bottom) for 45 minutes.

Topping Ingredients
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup softened butter

Mix together until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over the pie and bake another 20 minutes with top coals only. Add necessary coals to maintain heat.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Texas caviar soup

I'm not sure where I first got the idea for a pureed black-eyed pea soup with salsa fresca.

While I may have copied another chef's creation off of a TV food show like Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, I like to believe that the soup is my own creation. But I doubt that's true.

Texas caviar is the inspiration for my rendition of the spicy soup. Instead of marinating black-eyed peas in a zesty vinaigrette with red onion, celery, sweet bell pepper and garlic, I separated the dish into its basic components -- beans and salsa.

The soup was a hit with the residents at work. The addition of chipoltle peppers gave the pureed bean soup a smooth smokey feel it it.

The star of the dish was a fresh salsa garnish. While most residents enjoy a more traditional tomato salsa with roasted tomatoes, onion, garlic and jalapeno chilies, chopped fine in the food processor, this salsa is a bit chunkier.


This recipe uses the "hot soak" method of cooking black-eyed peas that's recommended by the California Dry Bean Board.

2 pounds black-eyed peas
3 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
3 chipotle peppers with adobo sauce, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste

4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-1/2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste

Place black-eyed peas a heavy 8-quart stockpot or Dutch oven and cover with sufficient water. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Discard water.

Add 3 quarts chicken or vegetable stock, chipoltes, chili powder, cumin, coriander and granulated garlic to peas. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until peas are tender.

Meanwhile, make salsa. Combine tomatoes, onion, chilies, garlic, lemon juice and cilantro in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Puree black-eyed peas with cooking liquid in food processor or blender until smooth. Thin with a little water or stock if puree is too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return puree to stockpot and keep warm over low heat.

To serve, ladle 8-ounces soup into each bowl. Spoon 1 or 2 tablespoons salsa on soup. Dizzle with hot chili oil if desired.

Makes about 1 gallon.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

NMCB 133 sets others up for success in Kandahar, Afghanistan

My readers may not realize that Navy cooks are in charge of all enlisted barracks and officer quarters on shore bases. The change in responsibility occurred on January 1, 1975 with the merger of the commissaryman and steward ratings.

The new rating was called mess management specialist. The rating was re-titled to culinary specialist (abbreviated CS) on January 15, 2004.

As an old-school CS (commissaryman, not culinary specialist), I never cared for the Navy's concept of hotel-restaurant management. I managed to stay in the galley until my retirement as a senior chief mess management specialist in 1999.

Had my battalion been mobilized, the barracks staff would've reported to me as the leading galley chief for NMCB-17. But it was largely a paper role as we focused on culinary training during our annual training cruises.

By Chief Culinary Specialist Eric Holiman, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 Public Affairs

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (NNS) -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 culinary Specialists assisted Kandahar Airfield Afghanistan personnel in preparing for the surge of troops in April.

NMCB 133 culinary specialists attached to the 22nd Naval Construction Regiment, assembled furniture and accessories including beds, lockers and chests for 606 rooms. The housing facilities, contained in Re-locatable Buildings and stacked two high in rows, similar to an apartment complex.

The effort was spearheaded by Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Jarad Baker, who was assisted by Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Dwight Carter and Culinary Specialist Seaman Ray Stargent in outfitting the rooms.

The culinary specialists were also responsible for the proper disposal of excess materials created from the pallets and protective coverings used in transporting the furniture and accessories, spending numerous hours organizing and breaking down materials at KAF's waste management site.

The rooms were completed in time for the arrival of NMCB 21, the battalion which relieved NMCB 22 at KAF. The team of culinary specialists worked tirelessly until the rooms were ready for each arriving unit.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Comrade chef

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (May 10, 2010) -- Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Edgar Tandoy slices cucumber during a cook-off between Russian and U.S. Navy sailors at Fabrika restaurant in Vladivostok, Russia. USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and embarked U.S. 7th Fleet staff Sailors attended the challenge, which featured Russian and American-style steak cook-offs.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Josh Huebner.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Standing watch

I enjoyed standing watch in Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 17's combat operations center, often working as the logistics representative during field exercises.

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (May 4, 2010) -- Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Patrick A. Campbell, the battle watch commander for the emergency operations center at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, briefs naval station and Joint Task Force Guantanamo personnel during a base-wide hurricane preparedness exercise at Bulkeley Hall.

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Cody Black.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Good railroad cooks wanted

I last reported on the proceedings of the American Railway Bridge and Building Association's annual convention in 2007. My article ("Don't Smell Me, I'm Here to Work") re-told a gem from the association's 1917 convention in Chicago.

Association president S.C. Tanner emphasized the need for bathing facilities for railway workers. While not directly related to railroad cooking, Tanner's story drove his point home and gave his listeners mild comic relief from convention business.

Fast forward to the 1918 convention. The association again convened its annual convention in Chicago.

The body, made up of superintendents of bridges and buildings from railroads across the United States, adjourned into several committees to discuss pressing issues of the day.

One such committee exploded "small versus large gangs for maintenance work." Chairman J.P. Wood of the Santa Fe Railroad summarized the findings of the committee:

"I believe that a crew composed of a foreman and five to seven men is preferable to a larger one for general maintenance work and that the work is done more efficiently and economically."

As expected, the chairman's report and ensuing discussion among committee members focused on the factors that influence crew size.

"A gang of from 6 to 7 men can work to good advantage without getting in each other's way and can accomplish practically as much as a larger crew on the average job of this kind, especially where the (railroad) traffic is all heavy," said Mr. Wood.

Routine, that is, until a bridge and building superintendent from small railroad in Owosso, Michigan interjected this thought:
Our railroad is a small railroad and has only a couple of bridge gangs, one or two building gangs and a dock gang; the largest of these gangs comprises seven men including the foreman. If anything heavier than that comes up we have to double them up. The building gang runs as small as four men. The only question, of course, is the overhead expense. Most of these gangs nowadays insist on having a cook. Then if you give a gang of seven men a cook, the gang of four wants a cook also. I was wondering what the rest of the railroads do in the matter of cooks and how large a gang they have before they install a cook.
One wonders why men who spent their careers building and maintaining bridges on the right-of-way concerned themselves with cooks. After all, allowing one man from a crew of seven or eight to devote his day to cooking significantly drove overhead costs.

The superintendent of bridges and buildings for the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad, W.E. Alexander, answered Mr. Turnbull's concerns. The BAR used good cooks to draw quality craftsmen to the employ of the railroad, especially under the low wage conditions of the era.

"Then we furnish a good outfit and a good cook," explained Mr. Alexander. "The foundation of a successful crew is a good cook and plenty to eat."

The BAR found an innovated way to take care of that need. Mr. Alexander continued:
The company furnishes the cook and the men furnish the outfit with dishes, clothing, bedding, fuel and a stove, each man paying his share for the food which he eats. They are charged their board and settle among themselves the amount due from each so the company does not bother about boarding them. Under such conditions we find we can get men better than we could before.
This arrangement the crew was responsible for purchasing their own food, as the company only provided the cook and kitchen. The crew could eat as good or as poorly as it wanted or could afford.

I suspect a crew with limited financial resources could still eat well. A good cook could buy food from the railroad commissary or local market and fix up flavorful meals that filled the belly.

As Mr. Alexander said, a good cook, one who provided lots of good food to a crew, was worth his weight to the railroad.

Source: American Railway Bridge and Building Association, Proceedings of the 28th annual convention of the American Railway Bridge and Building Association, (Brethren Publishing House: Elgin, Ill.), Volume 28, pages 141-3. The convention was held in Chicago, October 15 to 17, 1918.

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.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Two bowls of chili

Friday and Saturday I served a chili and sweet cornbread double header at separate venues. One mild, the other hot, the chilies served different groups, each with its own tolerance for heat.

The residents at work enjoyed a mild bowl of red served over steamed rice Friday evening. Sweet bell peppers (in place of the hot peppers in the recipe) helped to moderate the heat level.

With varying acceptance for spicy food, I find that it necessary to rein in the heat level for residents. A ladle of chili over steamed rice added an extra cooling effect. A dollop of sour cream cools the chili as well.

I changed the game Saturday at the engine house of the El Dorado Western Railway. I welcomed the opportunity to dial-up the spice level of the chili. A crowd of hearty eaters eagerly waited for the dinner bell to ring at noon.

Deep green poblano chili peppers stood in for the sweet bells. While not known to bust the Scoville scale, poblano chilies do add a nice even layer of spiciness to the dish.

Instead of using the commercial chili powder blend, I opted for a fifty-fifty blend of brightly colored ancho chili powder and dark brown chili negro. Ancho is the dried form of the poblano, while the pasilla becomes chili negro when dried.

Both groups loved the chili, each for their own reasons. To the residents, it was a refreshing change from the regular menu. The engine house crew enjoyed a break from work and the chance to eat a bowl of spicy chili with cornbread.

"What great chili!" said El Dorado Western volunteer Bill Rodgers. "I loved it. We gotta make it a staple in our work parties at the rail park."


This version of my chili recipe is tweaked slightly from the one published in February 2009.

5 pounds beef chuck roast, diced
2 large onion, chopped
3 green poblano or Anaheim chilies, chopped
3 tablespoons minced garlic
5 bay leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 ounces chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons paprika
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart beef broth
2-tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 (28-ounce) cans pinto beans
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

Brown diced chuck roast in a 14-inch deep Dutch oven or 12-quart heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onions, chili peppers and garlic and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add bay leaves, oregano, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, paprika and flour to meat mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes while stirring to develop flavor.

Add beef broth and crushed tomatoes to meat mixture. Cover and simmer for about 2 hours. Add additional beef broth as needed to thin chili to desired consistency. Add beans and heat.

This recipe makes about 20 (8-ounce) portions. The final yield depends on the amount of liquid added to the chili.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Ship's cooks compete in Fleet Week Port Everglades galley wars

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sunday Williams, Fleet Week Port Everglades Media Center

PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. (NNS) -- Seventeen culinary specialists from ships participating in the 20th Anniversary Fleet Week Port Everglades competed in the Galley Wars Competition April 28 at Hugh's Catering in Ft. Lauderdale.

Culinary teams from USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), USS Halyburton (FFG 40), USS Porter (DDG 78), USS Newport News (SSN 750), USCG South Florida, and FSG Hessen from Germany gathered around Chef Hugh McCauley, the owner of Hugh's Catering who kicked off the night with opening remarks and a meeting with participating culinary teams.

Hugh really enjoys hosting this event and allowing military culinary specialists to show off their talent.

"This is our second year and we really enjoy putting the effort out there for the Navy and the Coast Guard, because they put the effort out there for us," said McCauley.

"To give back to the Navy and the military as a whole, this is one of the only ways we civilians can help out, is with a little hospitality."

Teams were given one hour to produce two entrees, a salad and a dessert. At least one entrée was required to include the secret ingredient, which was announced by Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet Vice Adm. Mel Williams Jr.

"The secret ingredient is farm raised Pacific steel head salmon," said Williams.

With that said, the teams sliced, diced, grilled and sautéed their way through their one hour timeline using various vegetables, fruits, salmon, chicken, pasta, creams and various seasonings.

While the teams raced to complete their meals supporters from the local community as well as from the various ships stood by cheering the Sailors on.

Once the teams completed their entrees a table was set for judges that included Rear Adm. Michelle Howard, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2.

"This is important for the Navy CSs because for anybody who has ever been on a ship before, food is the morale, and these guys just do a terrific job and this is a chance for them to develop their skills a little bit more and take those skills back to the ship," said Howard.

Once dinner was served to the crowd a once noisy room became silent. Attendees placed their voting tickets with their entrée of choice and the decisions were made.

McCauley stood with the rest of the judges which along with Howard included Chef Jacques Brevery, Chef John Kane, and Chef Kevin Hyotte to announce the winners.

McCauley was very impressed with all of the participants. Second place went to the German ship Hessen but it was the team from USS Porter that came out on top. They were the only team competing with just two participants where the other teams had three.

Culinary Specialist 1st Class Ryan Weimer and Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice Treavor Elliot from Porter were shocked.

"I'm surprised, I'm shocked, I'm really happy with myself and my performance, and I'm thrilled with CSSA Elliot's performance, I mean I'm really proud of the guy," said Weimer.

"I think both of us learned a lot tonight just being here so it was just really exciting. It was nice to be able to prove to myself what I'm actually capable of in a different kind of environment."

Porter gained bragging rights across the fleet and their leadership said they are very proud and look forward to competing again.

In the upper photograph, Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Corey Hartfield, assigned to the guided-missile frigate USS Halyburton (FFG 40), prepares a filet of farm at Hugh's Catering. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sunday Williams.)

The lower photograph shows Chef Hugh McCauley as he starts this year's Fleet Week Galley Wars competition at his facility, Hugh's Catering.