VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors from aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) supply department attended Chef Jacoby Ponder’s first Chefprenuer Academy at Stratford University, Feb. 4–8.
During the weeklong training, four groups of Sailors learned about building a brand for themselves through the creation of a national restaurant. Each group created their own menu, food to match their specific style of restaurant and marketing techniques.
Ponder is a 10-year Navy veteran who has experience with preparing food for command leadership and has been featured in various magazines and television shows. He developed “The Chefprenuer Academy” to inspire innovative cooking techniques and a new standard of personal conduct in the workplace.
“My technique of teaching, is teaching them what’s internal, verses what you can get outside," said Ponder. "I think that they have a new attitude of ownership coming into the galley and owning it. It doesn’t matter if you’re E-1 through E-6, in this industry it’s not about rank, it’s about value. I think they’re going to come back to the ship with a lot more value, and it’s going to reflect in morale for the Sailors.”
Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Jose Perez has been in Gerald R. Ford’s supply department for four years, and explained by attending the training he hopes to make an impact on the Sailors he works with every day.
“When we first opened the galley, we had plenty of challenges, like feeding everyone from a single galley," said Perez. "Once we built the foundation, it got easier over the years. I would like to motivate everyone like chef did. The way he teaches, how he communicates with all of us is very important. That way, you can make your people feel really comfortable, and they will be happier and prouder of what they are doing.”
Ponder awarded each Sailor with a certificate that read “Chef” in front of their name to remind them they are not just a “cook in a galley aboard a ship," but a tested chef armed with new ideas and a new attitude towards their job.
“Wake up every day with a positive attitude, set your mind and focus, write down goals, think on paper and you can achieve anything that you want to achieve,” Ponder told the Sailors.
Gerald R. Ford is a first-in-class aircraft carrier and the first new aircraft carrier designed in more than 40 years. Ford is currently undergoing its post-shakedown availability at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding.
For more news from USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn78/.