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Around The Fleet

Cooking for a Crowd

CS1 cooks for the Rachael Ray show

When Culinary Specialist 1st Class Stephanie R. Cooper, USS Forrest Sherman, got the call the day before Halloween, she wasn't sure if it was a trick or a treat. Did Rachael Ray really want her to appear as a guest cook on her show?

When her former senior chief called to notify her, she was sure he was putting her on. Only he wasn't. He had indeed dropped her name and she had subsequently been nominated and then confirmed to cook on the show, and she was ecstatic.

Rachael Ray did indeed want her on the show.

The show was saluting veterans with their first-ever "Armed Forces Cook-Off!" Service men and women from all five military branches cooked their best 30-minute meal for the show.

"We think of it as an opportunity, any day of the week that we can work for our service members here at our show," said Rachael Ray. "So, for us, Veteran's day comes several times a year."

As hard as it was for Cooper to believe, it was even harder for her mother. It wasn't until Cooper sent her a selfie from New York that her mother had called her screaming in disbelief.

"She was excited and crying," said Cooper. "She was so worked up that she accidently hung up in my face!"

Cooper is used to feeding a large crew, but she has never done it for such a large audience.

"It was exciting," said Cooper. "It was something that I've never experienced before. It's surreal. I'm grateful for the opportunity. I really am."

Cooper, who has been in the Navy for 11 years, was nervous about the being a part of the show, but mostly just excited. To prepare, she sent in the recipe she planned to prepare and then practiced making the meal.

"Baked Red Snapper over Bok Choy, pan seared with peppers and onions and drizzled with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette," said Cooper. "It sounds complicated, but it really isn't!"

She prepared her meal perfectly and it was identified as the "Most likely to be Served in a New York City restaurant."
  • Navy Photo

    CS1 Cooper tapes a sequence on a Manhattan street for the Rachael Ray Show's Veterans Day Special in New York City, Nov. 5. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Matthew Stroup/released)

  • Navy Photo

    CS1 Cooper has makeup applied before taping an interview for the Rachael Ray Show's Veterans Day Special in New York City, Nov. 5. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Matthew Stroup/released)

  • Navy Photo

    CS1 Cooper preps for a segment on the Rachael Ray Show's Veterans Day Special in New York City, Nov. 6. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Matthew Stroup/released)

  • Navy Photo

    CS1 Cooper and Rachael Ray in New York on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014. Photo: David M. Russell/The Rachael Ray Show ©2014 King World Productions. All Rights Reserved.



Cooking is Cooper's passion, but being a CS in the Navy does not come without its fair share of ups and downs.

"It's very challenging to cook for so many daily and to get done with all the other tasks around that," said Cooper. "Plus you are performing your duties on a ship. But you just have to knock it out. People are counting on you to provide a service and do your best. So that's what you do."

Ray said that although she can cook for a crowd, she's not sure she is cut out for military life.

"I saw GI Jane, I don't think I could have made it through the Navy's training," said Ray. "I can run five miles, but then I sort of conk out and I need wine thereafter. So, I don't know if I would have made it through basic."

The weight and odds of this opportunity are not lost on Cooper.

"Being in the Navy, you want to try everything," said Cooper. "But I would have never even thought this was an option. This is a great opportunity. It's nice to get selected for something you weren't even expecting, it makes some of the down times worth it."


**Culinary Specialists (CS) receive extensive training in cooking, baking, dining and living area management. Navy Culinary Specialists provide food service for admirals and senior government executives and run the White House Mess for the President of the United States. They are responsible for all aspects of the dining (mess decks) and living areas, Culinary Specialists work in the "heart of the ship," and are vital in maintaining high crew morale on the ship and every shore base."