By Army SSG Alexander Henninger
You’re trapped in a watertight school bus with no windows, and the bus is submerged off the East Coast of North America, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. There’s not much to do aside from your eight to 10 hour shift each day.
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CS3 Alvin Arnold, stands in the kitchen aboard the USS South Dakota (SSN 790). –photo by Air Force SrA Jared Bunn
The only other certainty is the food. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. A time to sink your teeth into a delicious reminder of life on shore, away from the bus–er–submarine. Now, imagine if the food was terrible. Fortunately, for the crew of USS South Dakota (SSN 790), it’s quite the opposite. They say the food is delicious.
The culinary specialists (CSs) aboard the newest Virginia-class submarine in the Navy’s fleet are to cooking what stripes are to Siberian tigers — a seamless, beautiful blend of rare perfection — with a dash of oregano. The dedication and passion they bring to the table feeds a crew of about 135 submariners. Seven people make this happen–three times a day, every day.
Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Chris Peddycoart and his crew of six CSs have mastered the art of fine dining 20,000 leagues under the sea, so much so even Captain Nemo would be jealous.
Preparation begins about four hours before each meal. If it can be made from scratch, it will be, including pizza, bread pudding, omelets, and even giant cookie dessert bars (a crew favorite).
The crew’s mess has been decorated to resemble the state for which the submarine is named, South Dakota. Wall paneling has been replaced by sweeping landscape photos. The dining tables display postcards from various attractions around the state. Even a glance into the crew’s mess is enough to be swept away from the confined reality and dropped into a moment of daydreaming. Oh, and while you’re there, enjoy some amazing food, cooked from scratch.
See the crew in action here: