NORFOLK (NNS) -- USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) transformed its mess decks into a Western-themed barbecue, to complete the final inspection of the Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Award, Jan. 14.
George H.W. Bush is the East Coast finalist for the award and is competing against USS George Washington (CVN 73), the West Coast finalist. The award is given to the ship setting the standards for cleaner galleys, better quality of food, and the overall service of the food support team.
"This is the result of a tremendous amount of work. It's an incredible honor for us," said Cmdr. Trent Kalp, the ship's supply officer. "For many of our culinary specialists it is their first opportunity to be in the final stage of the contest."
"We had lots of hands-on training. There are a lot of items in today's meal we don't usually serve so we've been tested since the end of November," said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Brian Similton.
Each year the finalists for each platform choose a theme for the event showcasing the talent of the participants for one final time. This year the theme was chosen to honor the Texas heritage of George H.W. Bush, the ship's namesake. Executive officer, Capt. Matthew Paradise, authorized "cowboy wear" as the optional uniform of the day littering the mess decks with Sailors wearing cowboy hats, boots, and over-sized buckles.
"What this competition does for the crew is help the food service department heighten their game and be the best they possibly can," said Chief Warrant Officer Todd Grunlien, an inspector for the award. "The whole crew benefits from the better food."
The award originated from Capt. Edward F. Ney, a supply officer during World War II, and his work to improve food service in the military. His achievement helped shape the standard in the Navy today. This annual competition helps raise morale through friendly rivalry.
"We're well prepared." said Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Walker, the ship's food service officer. "We are ready to move forward, and be number one."
This is the first year George H.W. Bush has been a finalist among the 11 aircraft carriers that competed. Results of this event are slated to be released later this year.
George H.W. Bush is conducting training operations in preparation for its upcoming deployment at its homeport of Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Va.
For more information on USS George H.W. Bush follow the ship's fan page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/USSGeorgeHWBush.