‘Restaurant: Impossible’ Chef Visits Naval Station Norfolk

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Molly Greendeer, Naval Station Norfolk Public Affairs

A Celebrity chef visited Naval Station (NAVSTA) Norfolk March 12-13 as part of the Navy-wide Adopt-A-Ship program.

Robert Irvine paid a visit to guided-missile destroyers USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) and USS Porter (DDG 78), fast-attack submarine USS Scranton (SSN 756) and the NAVSTA Norfolk galley, providing on-the-job training to command galley personnel.

“Some people want to say that culinary specialists do not cook anymore, that they can only cook what they have to cook the way they have to cook it,” said Irvine. “That is not true because chicken will always be chicken and beef will always be beef, but it is in how you prepare the meat that creates diversity.”

With the assistance of Light House Foods, Irvine provided training in the preparation of meals using a scheduled government meal plan and previously purchased government foods on hand at the time of training.

While on Porter, Irvine showed culinary specialists how to get away from the same everyday routine even while underway. Lieutenant Daniel Sepulveda, supply officer for the Porter, said his personnel were very happy to get to work with Irvine.

“He taught our guys to be creative, to think outside the box,” said Sepulveda.

Irvine, who has visited NAVSTA Norfolk and its ships many times said he knows the morale of sailors today is based on food and mail.

“Food is all about fun and for those in the Navy it is also about life,” said Irvine. “Keeping the crew happy and morale up is the most important part of a culinary specialist’s job.”

Irvine has appeared on multiple television shows including Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible,” and others shows such as “Dinner: Impossible” and “Worst Cooks in America.” He previously participated in training events for Navy culinary specialists focusing on “scratch cooking,” a culinary concept supported by the Navy Supply Systems Command, and widely taught across the fleet.

Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Kimberely Pelismen, watch captain on Bainbridge, said she and the rest of the galley staff will definitely be putting what they learned to good use.

“I learned that we can do different things rather than just sticking straight to the menu card, we change it up and help crew morale with what we make and serve,” said Pelismen.

March was recently announced as Navy Nutrition Month in support of the Navy’s 21st century Sailor and Marine initiative. Navy Commands worldwide are encouraged to increase awareness of food literacy and reinforce a unit culture where “the healthy choice is the easy choice.” Irvine incorporated the Navy Nutrition Month theme into his training by teaching sailors about different types of cooking oils and the proper way to use them.

“You have to be careful with the temperature at which you cook certain oils,” said Irvine. “Even oils that promote good health can be heated too high turning them into not-so-good-for-us oils, like canola oil.”

Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Shanti Burch, one of the NAVSTA Norfolk galley staff, said everyone from seaman to chief learned something from Irvine.

“It was amazing getting to meet such a talented chef,” said Burch. “We all learned so much and left feeling inspired to continue to grow in our rate.”

Irvine said he served as a culinary specialist in the British Royal Navy, and left NAVSTA Norfolk sailors with a few words of encouragement.

“I know your job can put a lot of stress on you at times,” said Irvine. “Just remember there are so many people appreciative of the hard work you do every day.”

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