Mess Management Specialists Transform into Culinary Specialist

Story Number: NNS040303-04Release Date: 3/3/2004 10:17:00 AM
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By Journalist 3rd Class Shane Tuck, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- The Navy has changed the mess management specialist (MS) rating to culinary specialist (CS) in an effort to better describe the rating's profession. Sailors in the MS rating were automatically converted to the CS rating and kept their current rating badge, according to Naval Administration Message 012/04.

The rating's name has changed several times over its long history. Originally named cook, the rate changed to commissaryman in 1948. The title switched again in 1975 to mess management specialist. This year's change to culinary specialist keeps the occupation's definition current with today's civilian counterpart.

"The term culinary specialist is easier for people to relate to," said Senior Chief Culinary Specialist David Robertson, assistant food service officer aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). "It's more up to date."

"The change was long overdue and offers multiple advantages," said Robertson. "The new term holds more value and can be used as an excellent recruiting tool."

"It will take time for some of the crew members to adjust to the new name, but being known as a culinary specialist is a good thing," said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Roosevelt Roberts, Food Service Division. "It's better because mess specialist sounds like we're making a mess, but we actually work very hard and are good at what we do."

Working hard on the mess decks is important; however, CSs agree attending culinary school is the key to keeping their skills up to date.

"The Navy offers Sailors in the CS rating an opportunity to attend culinary schools," said Robertson. "Skills acquired while attending these schools are being implemented and revamped consistently to improve quality of life."

When Sailors are unable to attend culinary school, the Navy brings the training to them. The Chef-at-Sea program brings a professional chef aboard during underway periods. Executive Chef Darryl Espinosa is the Ronald Reagan Chef-at-Sea representative.

Espinosa trains the crew in new trends affecting the culinary community and offers several workshops aboard the ship to discuss what support nets are available to Sailors during their Navy career.

"The conversion from MS to CS should instill extra pride in these Sailors," said Espinosa. "Culinary is a more accepted term within the field and will add distinction."

According to Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Joseph Beezhold, Food Service Division, Ronald Reagan Sailors are dedicated to their work and their fellow shipmates, regardless of change.

"Sure the name has changed, but we still do the same job," said Beezhold. No matter what we're called, we're going to keep doing what we do...keeping the crew happy."

For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at

Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Candyce Pendelton prepares fruit for the morning meal aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).
040225-N-7535G-008 Atlantic Ocean (Feb. 25, 2004) - Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Candyce Pendelton prepares fruit for the morning meal aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). The nuclear powered aircraft carrier is currently undergoing carrier qualifications and flight deck certification off the Atlantic coast. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Mark Gleason. (RELEASED)
March 2, 2004
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