SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Culinary Specialists assigned to Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet ships graduated from a one-week baking course at the San Diego Culinary Institute in La Mesa, Calif. Sept. 21, 2012.
Classes are offered each quarter and are designed to teach techniques in various cooking methods, allowing CSs to enhance their professional knowledge and improve the quality of life aboard their ships.
"Our ship's in the yards right now," said Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice Erika Tavitas, assigned to USS Howard (DDG 83 ). "Our division, under the supply department, knew it would be an ideal time for us to get some in-rate training."
"We try to do this three to four times a year," said San Diego Culinary Institute Chef Instructor Chris Brill. "We have four different curriculums that we cycle through throughout the year. Some of the techniques they can use now, and maybe they'll also have an interest in pursuing it as a career after the Navy; working in restaurants, hotels, or resorts as a chef. The techniques we show them are the same ones we show our regular students.
"There's a difference between the science of cooking and just following a recipe. We try to teach them techniques that will make them good cooks," Brill said. "It's a chance to give back to them for what they do, and it's a break from the norm. A lot of people know about the Navy, but they don't know what it takes to be a Navy cook, so I always learn something from them as they learn from me."
Receiving this type of instruction from a civilian culinary school provides an opportunity for Navy cooks to grow professionally.
"Only three CSs were selected from each ship," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Sabrina Pierce, USS Makin Island, Galley Supervisor. "I was excited because I got to learn something new. Baking is one subject I've never explored before in my rating. It was something new for me, and I want to be able to teach my guys on the ship what I've learned. It was very challenging because we made so many products at one time. As soon as you were done making one product you moved directly into the next one, and it was non-stop."
Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Andres Romero from USS Howard also enjoyed learning something new. "I was pretty excited to be selected because I wasn't a good baker, but I can really bake now. I've learned how to use the correct techniques for baking bread and pastries. When we're deployed or underway, we bake every night, and the crew loves it. We can actually make it feel a little bit more like home for some people. My favorite recipe in the class was the Yule log, I'll make that at home - after all, everyone loves chocolate."
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