Celebrity Chefs Embark Truman For Food-filled Visit

     Three celebrity chefs concluded a visit aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) recently.

     The three-day event, hosted by Navy Entertainment, included Blue Moon Café’s Sarah Simington, Salsa Brava’s Mike Conley, and Hodad’s Mike Hardin.  The chefs, collectively known as the “Mess Lords,” have been featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”

Truman and Gettysburg Sailors prepare for the friendly cook-off competition.  (Photo by MC2 Lyle Wilkie III)

Truman and Gettysburg Sailors prepare for the friendly cook-off competition. (Photo by MC2 Lyle Wilkie III)

     During the visit, the chefs trained Harry S. Truman and USS Gettysburg (CG 64) Culinary Specialists (CS) in cooking techniques, and prepared specialty dishes for the crew.

     While the purpose of their visit was primarily for the morale of the crew, the chefs also enjoyed themselves and appreciated the opportunity.

     “It feels amazing to be here visiting and cooking for the Sailors and Marines on the Truman,” Simington said while on board.  “It’s an honor and a privilege.  Our armed forces give so much, so we should do something for them.”

     “In a sense, I am serving the men and women serving my country when I do events like this,” she added.  Simington said there might be hard times when away from home, so events like this are important for morale.

     “I am sure service members get frustrated at times because they miss home and can’t see their loved ones, so things like this event are important,” she said.  “We want to bring a taste of home to the ship and let them know we support them and can’t wait until they come home safely.”

     Lt. Mike Sargent, Truman’s Principal Assistant for Services, said “the value of the visit could not be overstated.  The amount of positive energy generated among the Food Service team and throughout the crew was simply amazing.”

     The main event of the visit was a cook-off.  Each chef led a team of Culinary Specialists as they competed against each other to create dishes from a pre-assigned list of ingredients-chicken, rice and carrots.  Two of the teams were comprised of Harry S. Truman Culinary Specialists, and a third team was comprised of Culinary Specialists from Gettysburg.  The Gettysburg team, coached by John Conley, won the cook-off.

     Truman’s Food Service Officer, CW04 Brian Armstrong, explained that “the crew was able to incorporate Hawaiian burgers and Navajo tacos into the Navy Standard Core Menu.  It was a great hit for the entire crew to see various entrée items made in a slightly different way than the menu calls for.”

     According to the CSs, they enjoyed the competition as well as the visit from the chefs.  “I can’t believe I got the chance to meet and train under three celebrity chefs,” said CSSN Hunter Haines, a cook in S-2 Division’s forward galley.  “We learned different cooking techniques, seasoning tips and advice on baking.  Things like this mean so much to me.  They took time out of their busy schedules to come see us and make our days better.  They understand the importance of our mission and showed support from the moment they stepped foot on the ship.  I had a blast.”

By MCSN Dion Dawson; Staff Writer, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75)