USS BOXER, At Sea (NNS) -- Executive Chef James Koskiniemi visited USS Boxer (LHD 4) to train the ship's culinary specialists (CS) while the ship conducted operations off the coast of Southern California July 12-18.
While on board, Koskiniemi shared some tricks of the trade with the ship's CSs, such as fruit carving, basic knife skills, how to prepare hors d'oeuvres ranging from candies to pastries and several dishes suitable for formal events.
"This provides an opportunity for the culinary specialists to get an outside view of what food service is all about. It also gives them training to better serve the crew of Boxer," said Boxer's Food Service Officer Ensign Ronald Thompson.
The training culminated in an 'Iron Chef' style cooking competition, putting their skills to the test. The contest consisted of teams of two Sailors, each having 90 minutes to prepare their dish for the judges. To add a degree of difficulty to the competition, the main ingredients, chicken and steak, remained a mystery to each team until the beginning of the contest.
Each judge tasted the dishes and awarded points toward a final score. The scores were based on flavor, presentation, speed, safety and cleanliness.
"You might think my favorite part of the event is being able to eat all of that great food, but I really enjoyed being able to see the pride in my CSs when they present their products to the judges," said Cmdr. Beth Howell, Boxer's supply officer and one of the judges.
The team of Culinary Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Dameon Douglas and Culinary Specialist Seaman Benjamin Dricken won the first-place prize, a chef's knife from Koskiniemi, with their entry of stuffed cucumber and chicken stacked on rice with orange sauce.
"It feels really good that I won because I didn't think I could win being so new at this," said Dricken.
Despite the success of the competition, Koskiniemi's work aboard Boxer isn't finished yet.
"I would love to come back," said Koskiniemi. "I want to take the Sailors from the point they are now to getting a certification through the American Culinary Federation (ACF)."
Boxer CSs also plan to use their training to improve the cooking procedures and better the quality of food served to the crew.
Boxer is scheduled to enter an extensive maintenance period this fall, preparing the ship for future operations.
For more news from USS Boxer, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/lhd4/.